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Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  16 August 1940 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 2,181 users  
Reviews: 66 user | 34 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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Title: Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John McGuire ...
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
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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:

 »
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

Michael Ward: [Referrig to Meng] Did you ever want to kill a man?
Martin: [Patronizingly] My son, there's murder in every intelligent man's heart.
Michael Ward: He's no man. He's a worm - the kind you ought to jump on with heavy boots.
Martin: You'll have to do an awful lot of jumping. The earth is covered with them.
Michael Ward: [Angrily] It'd be a real pleasure to cut his throat!
Martin: [Noticing his dinner knife] Hey, you're not kidding. Put down that knife!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Adjust Your Tracking (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
may be the first film noir.
2 April 2001 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

The Stranger On the Third Floor may be the first film noir. It's certainly one of the earliest American pictures that can be defined as such. The story revolves around a young reporter who is responsible for the conviction of an ex-con who, as things turn out, seems not to be a murderer after all. As the film develops the reporter himself becomes a suspect for the murder of a particularly obnoxious neighbor with whom he'd had a number of confrontations. The reporter's girl-friend becomes his savior, and she traps the real killer, Peter Lorre (who else?) and saves the day. The movie is splendidly dark and foreboding, deliberately unrealistic, like an experimental play, and it has a full-scale nightmare, very well-done, in the bargain. It is thematically similar to mostly much later and somewhat more elaborate films of the forties by Siodmak, Lang, Dmytryk and Dassin, and in its modest way it can hold its own with the best of them.


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