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The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935)

The tenants of an old boarding house are terrorized by an evil slumlord. One day a strange man arrives at the house and begins to help them with their problems.



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Cast overview:
René Ray ...
Stasia (as Rene Ray)
Frank Cellier ...
John Turnbull ...
Major Tomkin
Cathleen Nesbitt ...
Mrs. Tomkin (as Catherine Nesbitt)
Ronald Ward ...
Chris Penny
Beatrix Lehmann ...
Miss Kite
Jack Livesey ...
Mr. Larkcom
Mrs. de Hooley
Mary Clare ...
Mrs. Sharpe
Barbara Everest ...
Alexander Sarner ...
The Gramophone Man


In a London boarding house, a number of lives exist precariously on the edge of disaster or despair. Stasia, the housemaid, hungers for happiness but is treated like a drudge and constantly threatened with a return to the punishments of her youth. Vivian, a beautiful young girl, loves the architect Chris, but must marry the repugnant Mr. Wright in order to erase her parents' debts. Miss Kite derides all around her out of fear of aging and loss of beauty, while her friend Mr. Larkcom sells mediocre phonograph records though he'd secretly love to be a concert pianist. Into the lives of these and other unhappy residents comes a mysterious stranger, under whose influence they each begin to see the possibility of happiness. But the cynical Mr. Wright prefers to see them in misery and plots to thwart the angelic stranger who lives in the back room of the third floor. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

15 December 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hyvä ihminen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(British Acoustic)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Remake of The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1918) See more »


Written by Henriques Gomez
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User Reviews

Unique story of a mysterious stranger and a lonely girl
3 June 2012 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

René Ray is wonderful as Stasia, servant girl at a London boarding house occupied by a nasty landlady and a wicked bunch of boarders. Stasia was hired on the cheap from a reformatory and receives nothing but scorn and cruelty from the boarders. She longs for escape, or at least a bit of kindness: "If only there was one decent person…." Pushed to her limit, Stasia heads for the door, where—

Conrad Veidt walks in and immediately the girl senses something different in him. It's a beautiful, surprising scene: She is suddenly smiling.

Veidt is a very polite, extremely soft-spoken and apparently nameless stranger. He leases a tiny third floor apartment in the house and quickly and quietly changes the atmosphere, the relationships, the attitudes of the other boarders.

Among the group, Beatrix Lehmann stands out as Miss Kite, a not-so-old spinster who is bitter that time is passing her by—and in whom the spark of energy and love of life is perhaps re-lit. Anna Lee gives a strong performance as the beautiful young woman who is her impoverished parents' only valuable possession. Must she marry the wealthy Mr. Wright, thus solving their financial problems? It's a heartbreaking dilemma; Lee makes it seem real.

Frank Cellier is the slimy Mr. Wright, a businessman whose success is achieved through laying others low. Alone among the boarders, Mr. Wright is not affected by the stranger's mysterious presence. The action will eventually build toward a showdown of sorts…but not one in any way conventional or expected.

Although most of the action takes place in the boarding house, a joyous sequence in the film's midsection shows the group taking a boat trip down the Thames. The characters loosen up, find enjoyment, begin friendships. The wonder in Stasia's face when the boat goes under the Tower Bridge as it opens for them! It's a glorious moment.

Conrad Veidt is mesmerizing and intense; René Ray is full of fear and joy and excitement. Their scenes together are quite wonderful.

It's an oddball movie, not particularly easy to watch; it looks evil and human weakness pretty directly in the face. But it's also positively moving—it's certainly left me thinking and wondering what it's all about.

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