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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.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Frauenmörder von Boston  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Horst Buchholz was among those actors considered for the Tony Curtis part. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Sgt. Frank McAfee: So the women were strangled with a double square knot.
Sgt. Frank McAfee: What are you trying to tell us, that it was a doctor or an Eagle Scout?
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: Episode #2.25 (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

A Certain Smile
(uncredited)
Music by Sammy Fain
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Killer Role
6 May 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Tony Curtis really showed his acting chops when he took on the most unlikely role of Albert DeSalvo the famous Boston Strangler of the early 1960s. Though he's only in the film literally for about half of it, what you see is a classic performance. Why he wasn't nominated for an Oscar, the Deity only knows.

13 women were found dead in the Boston area of manual strangulation and they were also sexually molested. Public concern was so great that the then Attorney General Edward Brooke, played by William Marshall, overrode local jurisdictions and prerogatives and assigned a lawyer from his office John Bottomly to coordinate the strangler investigation.

Henry Fonda plays Bottomly who takes the task on quite reluctantly because his expertise is civil litigation. My guess is that Brooke was thinking that Bottomly would be best for the job because he came in with no preconceived notions on how to do the job and would be open to anything. Turned out he was right.

Actually Fonda has more screen time than Curtis because the first half of the film concentrates on him and the investigation. He follows up every red herring thrown at him. He even hires a medium paid for with private funds by a millionaire friend of Brooke's played by George Voskevec who actually comes close in terms of geography to finding the real killer.

One of the red herrings is a gay man played by Hurd Hatfield who in those days before Stonewall was considered a likely suspect. He gets turned in by his landlady who is suspicious of his reading material. It's something he's used to, every time there's a lurid sex murder as an openly gay, or at least openly gay for that time he's brought in for questioning. This was one of the few times I ever heard the word gay used in a film made before the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.

Curtis however dominates the film. The last 20 minutes or so is a final confrontation with him and Fonda and for those who are used to the insouciant leading man of swashbucklers and comedies, this is a real breakthrough. As much if not more of breakthrough than his part in Sweet Smell of Success.

In his memoirs however Curtis decries the fact that on this, the second of two films he worked with Henry Fonda on, he said that he found Fonda cold and forbidding as a person to work with.

The film is tautly directed by Richard Fleischer with some fine editing though I think Fleischer was a bit too fond of the split screen technique. Still it's a film worth watching.


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