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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
Otto Hoffman ...
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:

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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

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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

Michael Ward: What if she's right - he didn't do it, and they give him the chair?
Martin: Suppose they do? What difference does it make? There's too many people in the world anyway.
Michael Ward: What's the use of talking to you? You think everything's a joke.
Martin: My son, it is. If it weren't, life wouldn't be worth living.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Considered the First Film-Noir of the Cinema History
4 June 2012 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

The reporter Michael 'Mike' Ward (John McGuire) is promoted in the newspaper when he becomes the key witness of the murder trial of Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook Jr.), a young man that he had seen threatening the victim Nick in his coffee shop and then leaving the place with Nick with sliced neck. Joe swears innocence and despite the circumstantial evidence, he is convicted and sentenced to the electric chair. Mike's fiancée Jane (Margaret Tallichet) feels uncomfortable with the sentence and believes that Joe might be innocent. Mike loses his confidence and feels remorse for his testimony accusing Joe.

One night, Mike brings Jane to his room and his nosy neighbor Albert Meng (Charles Halton) brings the landlord that expels Jane from the boarding house. Mike threatens Meng and later he sees a stranger with bulging eyes (Peter Lorre) on his floor that runs away from him. He has a weird nightmare and when he wakes up, he finds that Meng is murdered with sliced neck similar to Nick. Mike calls the police and is arrested as prime suspect of both murders. Jane seeks out the stranger on the streets to save her fiancé.

"Stranger on the Third Floor" is considered the first film-noir of the cinema history. The story is engaging, supported by magnificent cinematography, and the sequence of Mike's nightmare is fantastic. Peter Lorre is creepy and the conclusion is naive on the present days. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Homem dos Olhos Esbugalhados" ("The Man with Bulging Eyes")


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