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The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 143 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 3 critic

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

Cast overview:
...
René Ray ...
Stasia (as Rene Ray)
Frank Cellier ...
Wright
...
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 ...
Cook
Alexander Sarner ...
The Gramophone Man
Edit

Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

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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  »
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Did You Know?

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Roll Along Covered Wagon
(uncredited)
Written by Jimmy Kennedy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Mysterious Stranger In The Back Room
11 September 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Passing On The Third Floor Back was a pretty ancient Edwardian era piece which Gaumont British thought would be a good vehicle for newly arrived Conrad Veidt to their shores. Veidt who had starred in German cinema had to leave because of a part Jewish wife. He hated the Nazis thoroughly, but was so darn good playing them he's best known today for being Major Strosser in Casablanca. Veidt brought a certain amount of continental charm and unworldliness to the part of the mysterious stranger who rents a room from landlady Mary Clare and starts to change the lives of all the people who board at her establishment.

This film really ought to be seen back to back with the modern classic, The Green Mile. To some The Passing Of The Third Floor Back will seem way old fashioned, but see Conrad Veidt's character and contrast it with what Michael Clarke Duncan did in The Green Mile and you'll understand completely what this film is all about.

This is some collection of the British public that Veidt has moved in with. Mary Clare has a maid who was paroled to her whom she treats as a slave who is played by Rene Ray and who Veidt gives some hope to. Another is cynical and hardened spinster Beatrix Loehman who does show she's got more to her with a singular act of heroism. Parents Jack Turnball and Cathleen Nesbit are ready to sell their beautiful daughter Anna Lee over to this fatuous and materialistic property owner Frank Cellier to clear up her father's debts. Lee really loves fellow boarder Ronald Ward, but fears she can't marry him because there's too much she sees in the way.

This film's origins are with a short story by Jerome K. Jerome and an adapted play by the same author that ran a year on Broadway in the 1909- 1910 season. There's one bit of humor that was a political dig at the current British Prime Minister who many thought was self satisfied and fatuous as Cellier's character is in the film. Cellier loudly proclaims as his mantra in life to be 'Safety First' which was the slogan that Stanley Baldwin ran on. There was a lot more to Baldwin than Cellier's character was, but his enemies saw Baldwin smug and self satisfied. Anyone in the British movie-going public seeing this film would have seen the point immediately, but it's lost on today's audience.

Cellier's actually proves to be something more than a fatuous oaf. This guy is so cheap he lives at a boardinghouse because he owns slum property all over the district. Cheap rent and he can keep an eye on things. He also proves to be an adversary for Veidt as he's everything Veidt cannot abide in a human being.

The Passing On The Third Floor Back is probably too old fashioned for some tastes. Still it is a tastefully done antique and if one's seen The Green Mile and liked it, you'll like this one as well.


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