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Charles Marquis Warren
Aging bank robber, Roy Earle, escapes from prison and decides to rob a resort hotel, as a last heist before retiring. Earle's gang include Babe, Red, Marie and Louis Mendoza, an "inside man" at the hotel. However, things don't go as planned.
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A hitch-hiking stranger manages a lift from a young woman into the town he's destined for, and she's from. Both land up in jail, twice, as the small town and its leading family slowly unravel the in-plain-sight mystery behind this man.
London, 1888: on the night of the third Jack the Ripper killing, soft-spoken Mr. Slade, a research pathologist, takes lodgings with the Harleys, including a gloomy attic room for "experiments." Mrs. Harley finds Slade odd and increasingly suspects the worst; her niece Lily (star of a decidedly Parisian stage revue) finds him interesting and increasingly attractive. Is Lily in danger, or are her mother's suspicions merely a red herring? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Many believe the prime suspect in the murders was Montague John Druitt, a recently discharged teacher at a boys' school, who committed suicide in the Thames in December 1888 just as Slade apparently does in he film. After the discovery of his partially decomposed body the hunt for the Ripper was ostensibly deactivated. See more »
Much is made of anyone with a black leather bag or satchel falling under suspicion as the Ripper. In reality anyone seen wearing a leather apron in the fall of 1888 in London was suspected of being the Ripper. See more »
Curiously tepid re-telling of the Jack the Ripper legend. Jack Palance certainly looks the part. With his rictus-like face, long lean body, and sinister smile, he's the most unusual of figures. However his Ripper comes across as more neurotic than menacing. As his scenes with Smith suggest, he's emotionally vulnerable, soft-spoken, even with a slight unmasculine lisp and a rampant mother-fixation. Now this is an interesting interpretation of the serial killer. Still and all, it works against Palance's appearance and the menace the role needs. In short, it makes for an interesting psychological profile, but not for the imposing personality that would stir an audience. Palance certainly can't be accused of overplaying the role.
There's also too little of the glistening cobblestone streets and alleyways that create the needed background gloom. Likely the budget didn't allow for much of that atmospheric embroidery. Then too, director Hugo Fregonese does't appear to have a stylish feel for the material, which he films in a pretty straightforward unimaginative manner. What the movie does have is a gorgeous Constance Smith in a lively and compelling performance. Whatever happened to her. With her looks and talent, she should qualified for A-list parts, but her career looks a little mysterious, petering out in Italy in the late 50's.
Anyway, it's a good chance to scope out the early Jack Palance in a performance that unfortunately falls short of his absolutely spine-chilling gunfighter in the classic Western Shane (1953).
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