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>
The sixth and last victim of the Ripper in the film is Irish immigrant Mary Lenihan, who is killed in her one room flat. Her dying screams alert nearby constables who narrowly miss catching the serial killer. In reality, the last of the Ripper's five, not six, canonical victims was Irish immigrant Mary Kelly, killed and disemboweled in her one room flat, the only one of the victims killed indoors. Kelly's screams, if any, went unheard, and the Ripper mutilated her at his leisure throughout the night. The ghastly sight was not discovered until the morning when a rent collector saw the ghastly scene through her window at 10:45 a.m. See more »
In the opening and closing shots which include London Bridge at night, anachronistic cars and buses clearly can be seen crossing the Thames. See more »
I need you Lily! Only you can save me!
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It's at night that interesting things happen. What kind of work do you do at night, Mr. Slade?
Man in the Attic is directed by Hugo Fregonese and adapted to screenplay by Robert Presnell Jr. and Barré Lyndon from the novel The Lodger written by Marie Belloc Lowndes. It stars Jack Palance, Constance Smith, Byron Palmer, Frances Bavier and Rhys Williams. Music is by Hugo Friedhofer and cinematography by Lee Tover.
1888, Whitechapel, London, and as the murders continue, perpetrated by the man known as Jack the Ripper, the mysterious Mr. Slade (Palance) rents out the upper rooms of the Harley household...
Jack the Ripper was popular for transference to film and literature even back when the 20th century was born, now in the 21st century nothing has changed. It's a name synonymous with dastardly slaying's in foggy Victorian London, a name that conjures up images of British coppers chasing their tails while Jolly Jack went about his bloody business, only to then vanish like a plume of smoke in the wind.
Marie Belloc Lowndes' novel has been mined a few times, with a couple of film makers following the source and choosing to reveal from the off the Ripper and put "him" front and centre as the antagonist. In fact for this version there is an out and out motive offered up. Fregonese's film lacks the class and quality of production that John Brahm's 1944 version has, or the twist of Hitchcock, but that doesn't mean Man in the Attic should be dismissed. And rightly so.
It lacks a mystery element for sure, that feeling of not knowing for sure the who, whys, motives and means etc, but it doesn't lack for atmosphere, period design or strong leading man performance. This is very much one for fans of fog bound cobbled streets, of gas lamps and watery canal side blackness. Where coppers sport a truncheon as their major weapon, the whistle their call to arms. That the murders are off screen and thrust into our mind's eye is also a select film fan requirement, as too is the odd leap of faith as regards stupidity of none Ripper characters. But this does a fine job for those inclined towards such Victorian eeriness.
Musical interludes halt the mood, even though they please (and stimulate as regards Smith's wonderful legs), yet it also brings to light a community trying to carry on with wine and a song as blood was adorning those cobbled streets outside. This is far from perfect as a Ripper thriller for sure, yet still it has much to recommend for a viewing on a dark winters night. 7/10
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