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Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 2,046 users  
Reviews: 65 user | 33 critic

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 ...
Michael 'Mike' Ward
Margaret Tallichet ...
Jane
Charles Waldron ...
District Attorney
...
Joe Briggs
Charles Halton ...
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
Edit

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:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Lorre owed RKO two days on his contract and was given this role with few scenes and few lines, but received top billing. See more »

Goofs

When Ward rushes out of his apartment to phone Jane, he is not wearing a tie. But when he picks up the phone,he is. See more »

Quotes

The Judge: [Noticing a sleeping juror] Juror #2, the jury will pay strict attention to the evidence.
Juror #2: I'm sorry, your honor, I was up all night with a terrible toothache.
The Judge: [Scolding him] Well, that's too bad, but it's your duty to stay awake and try to follow the evidence with as much intelligence as you've got.
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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