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Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 16 August 1940 (USA)
An aspiring reporter is the key witness at the murder trial of a young man accused of cutting a café owner's throat and is soon accused of a similar crime himself.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John McGuire ...
Margaret Tallichet ...
Jane
Charles Waldron ...
District Attorney
...
Joe Briggs
...
Albert Meng
...
Mrs. Kane, Michael's Landlady
Cliff Clark ...
Martin
Oscar O'Shea ...
The Judge
Alec Craig ...
Briggs' Defense Attorney
...
Charles Evans, the Police Surgeon
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Storyline

Rising reporter Michael Ward is a key witness in the murder trial of young Joe Briggs, who is convicted on circumstantial evidence while swearing innocence. Mike's girl Jane believes in Joe and blames Mike, who (in a remarkable sequence) dreams he is himself convicted of murdering his nosy neighbor. Will his dream come true before Jane can find the real murderer? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El desconegut del tercer pis  »

Box Office

Budget:

$171,200 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Composer Roy Webb recycled the main theme in "Murder My Sweet." See more »

Goofs

When Jane leaves the coffee shop to follow the Stranger, the shades on the doors are shown to be higher from the outside than they were from the inside. See more »

Quotes

Albert Meng: [Objecting to Ward's typing] If you have to write, write with a pencil!
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User Reviews

 
Bizarre little noir
2 December 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Peter Lorre is the "Stranger on the Third Floor" in this B movie from 1940 that stars John McGuire, Maria Tallichet (Mrs. William Wyler) and Elisha Cook, Jr. McGuire plays Mike Ward, a reporter who is the key witness in a murder trial that ends with the defendant (Cook) being found guilty. The man's protestations of innocence make an impression on Ward's fiancée, Jane, and it causes a rift between them. Back in his rooming house, Mike realizes that his nemesis next door isn't snoring as usual. Looking out of his room, he sees a man (Lorre) hanging around on his floor. Unnerved from the trial and from Jane's attitude, he begins to think his neighbor is dead and fantasizes that he could, though innocent, be put in the same position as the man he testified against and accused of murder. Then the nightmare turns into reality, and it's up to Jane to try and find the stranger - who killed in the same manner as was used in the murder case just tried.

This is a pretty interesting story with decent performances by McGuire and Tallichet, who retired after the birth of her second child with Wyler. Facially, she is a cross between Ella Raines and Jane Russell, though she gets no glamor treatment in this. Sitting down to watch the film, I was visualizing something like "M" or "The Lodger" - in reality, Lorre doesn't have much to do at all. He does, however, act strangely very well.

Some wonderful photography and interestingly filmed sequences, and a really sweet ending. Catch it the next time it's on TCM.


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