81 user 59 critic

The Boston Strangler (1968)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 16 October 1968 (USA)
A series of brutal murders in Boston sparks a seemingly endless and increasingly complex manhunt.



(screenplay), (book)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: GP Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Based on the real-life case of the British serial killer John Christie, and what happened to his neighbours Tim and Beryl Evans.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, John Hurt
The Boston Strangler (Video 2006)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.1/10 X  

Boston, Mass. 1962: Thirteen innocent women were brutally slaughtered by a faceless monster. Now, through the eyes of the killer himself, we are taken on a sadistic journey from the jail ... See full summary »

Director: Keith Walley
Stars: Mauro Lannini, Jason David, Camille Lannan
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel
Certificate: M Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

In Silver City, naive farm boy Cass and newcomer saloon girl Nellie are married by Judge Roy Bean in a shotgun wedding but their honeymoon is marred by outlaws.

Director: Budd Boetticher
Stars: Richard Lapp, Anne Randall, Robert Random
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

During the Korean War, Italian nurse Virna Lisi falls in love with two American fliers, Tony Curtis and George C. Scott. Lisi marries Curtis after he convinces her that Scott has been ... See full summary »

Director: Norman Panama
Stars: Tony Curtis, Virna Lisi, George C. Scott
Beachhead (1954)
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

In 1943, in the wake of the Allied amphibious landing on the Japanese held Bougainville Island, four Marines are sent to scout the location of Japanese minefields.

Director: Stuart Heisler
Stars: Tony Curtis, Frank Lovejoy, Mary Murphy
Madigan (1968)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In New York City's Spanish Harlem, detectives Madigan and Bonaro are given 72 hours by their superior to capture a hoodlum wanted for homicide in Brooklyn.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens
Fantasy | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Kashma Baba, the son of the famed Baghdad thief Ali Baba is a cadet in a medieval Persian military academy where he runs afoul of his rival Hussein, the evil Caliph's son.

Director: Kurt Neumann
Stars: Tony Curtis, Piper Laurie, Susan Cabot
The Outsider (1961)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Tony Curtis plays an Indian (Nicknamed "Chief" by other soldiers) who fights in WWII and helps to raise the flag at Iwo Jima.

Director: Delbert Mann
Stars: Tony Curtis, James Franciscus, Gregory Walcott
Mister Cory (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Cory, an ambitious Chicago slum kid with a knack for gambling, gets a busboy job at a posh Wisconsin resort...where his real purpose is to gamble with the staff and guests and romance rich ... See full summary »

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Tony Curtis, Martha Hyer, Charles Bickford
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In 13th-century Tangiers, regent Mustapha hires a paid assassin to kill baby Prince Hussein in order to usurp his throne but the assassin has second thoughts and steals the baby for himself.

Director: Rudolph Maté
Stars: Tony Curtis, Piper Laurie, Everett Sloane
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Alvah, a young GI who happens to own a vineyard, elopes to Las Vegas with Lee, his housekeeper's daughter. But Alvah's chicken pox postpone the wedding night. The rest revolves around more ... See full summary »

Director: Douglas Sirk
Stars: Tony Curtis, Piper Laurie, Don DeFore


Cast overview, first billed only:
Det. Phil DiNatale
Julian Soshnick
Terence Huntley
Det. Frank McAfee
John Asgeirsson
Dianne Cluny
Atty. Gen. Edward W. Brooke
Peter Hurkos
Leora Dana ...
Mary Bottomly
Carolyn Conwell ...
Irmgard DeSalvo
Austin Willis ...
Dr. Nagy
Bobbie Eden


Boston is being terrorized by a series of seemingly random murders of women. Based on the true story, the film follows the investigators path through several leads before introducing the Strangler as a character. It is seen almost exclusively from the point of view of the investigators who have very few clues to build a case upon. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Why did 13 women willingly open their doors to the Boston Strangler? See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Frauenmörder von Boston  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tony Curtis broke his nose while filming a chase scene. See more »


In the film it is assumed DeSalvo was guilty, and it portrays him as suffering from multiple personality disorder and committing the murders while in a psychotic state. DeSalvo was never diagnosed with, or even suspected of having that disorder. See more »


Title card: [opening title card] This is the story of 'Albert DeSalvo', the self-confessed Boston Strangler. The characters and incidents you are about to see are based on fact.
See more »

Crazy Credits

This is the true story of Albert Desalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler. The characters and incidents you are about to see are based on fact. See more »


Referenced in The Dark Side of Porn: Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered (2005) See more »


Semper Fidelis
Music by John Philip Sousa
Heard from the television during the opening scene
Also played during the flashback montage
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Interesting and engaging drama
23 May 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When one or two strangulations of women in their own homes starts to turn into a whole series of murders, the press climb all over it, Boston is on edge and the police are struggling. Leading a new taskforce to find the strangler, John Bottomly continues the search and, after several false leads hits it lucky with a man who appears to be the one they are looking for. However, this is only half the story as Albert DeSalvo appears perfectly normal and doesn't seem to have anything to hide even though everything points to him being the serial murderer of the title.

Not being aware of the real events behind this film, it was an interesting story of me to watch even though I had to guard myself against the truism that many "true stories" will be simplified for cinema treatment. Regardless though, the film still made for an interesting detective case but also a rather engaging look at mental illness and violence. The investigation part is nicely delivered and is quite tense – yes, we know who the killer is but the other suspects are still interesting and I never felt like I was just hanging around waiting for Curtis to show up. Once he does, the film changes tact slightly but is still interesting because Albert is so engaging a person – I was not sure what he was playing at but it was interesting to go along with Bottomly and try to piece the man together; the closing captions show the slant of the film and this may annoy the more right wing viewer, but it didn't take anything away for me.

The cast are strong and help the tone of the film. Fonda plays his role well and provides a strong focus for the film until Curtis arrives to sweep it away from under his feet. Curtis' performance is well understated and lacking in the sort of showy acting that he could easily have done (Edward Norton did a similar role in this way but the vehicle was different and it worked); instead he is both a person and a monster, someone we are not allowed to judge but rarely invited to feel sympathy for. Support is good from Kennedy, Hamilton, Kellerman and others but really it is Curtis' film and it is he that sticks in the mind. The direction seems obvious now (especially with 24 in its fourth season) but it is clever and effective, the split screen keeping the film busy even in basic sequences while also helping the tension.

Overall this is not a pacey thriller but rather a more serious drama, although it still works well as an interesting look at the case but also at the failings of the system of dealing with violent mental illness sufferers. Its point is rather bluntly delivered but getting to it is well done and Curtis' performance is probably one of his best.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Director Fleischer's Sick + Twisted View Of A Victim Enjoying The Rape esaxxon
split screen technique humanjest
This movie was little more than a sociopolitical argument YINever
VHS or DVD? mcm1071989
Acting Ability jon-431
Curtis broke his nose. brisby1
Discuss The Boston Strangler (1968) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: