6.9/10
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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:

Language:

Release Date:

16 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El desconegut del tercer pis  »

Box Office

Budget:

$171,200 (estimated)
 »

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

on the rainy night when Ward and Jane for the first time go to the room he's renting we may notice different water stains on his coat in consequent shots. The left sleeve is dry before they enter the room, once they get inside coat's sleeves are wet. See more »

Quotes

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

Featured in The Rules of Film Noir (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Subtle and scary
14 April 2001 | by (Vancouver, Canada) – See all my reviews

If Peter Lorre had not spent the early part of his career on the stage he would have been excellent in German silent films, this movie proves it. 95% of his role is silent and he carries it off beautifully. Director Boris Ingster seems to have been influenced not only by the German silents (particularly those photographed by Karl Freund) but also by Jean Cocteau. Certain angles and lighting during the dream sequence that takes up one-third of the movie, and especially the death chamber scene, appear inspired by LE SANG D'UN POET (1930). Mr. Ingster also seemed interested in making a social commentary. Notice how during the trial of Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook Jr. who steals every scene he is in) not only a juror but also the judge himself must be prodded awake. The public defender does not really give a hoot about saving his client and the reporters don't care if an innocent man goes to the chair because either way it will make a good headline. After seeing the buildup to such dramatic intensity with not one but two innocent men accused of brutal murders some people might groan at how things get so neatly wrapped up at the conclusion. If we look at this movie as an early entry in the American "film noir" genre the ending seems perfectly normal with bizarre happenstances solving themselves and Fate taking a hand to release three men from a living nightmare (yes, I am counting The Stranger because he too "escapes" from his torment in a way). If you like spotting character actors look quickly for Donald Kerr (DEVIL BAT) and John Harmon (MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS) in small roles. Watch for Bobby Barber, publicity agent for Abbott and Costello, popping up in a cameo as an Italian grocer!


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