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London, 1949. John Christie is an unassuming, middle aged man who, along with his wife Ethel, manages the apartment building at 10 Rillington Place. His unassuming demeanor masks the fact of being a serial killer. His modus operandi is to act as a person with a medical background, lure unsuspecting women to his apartment on the pretense of curing them of some ailment, knock them unconscious with carbon monoxide gas, gain his sexual release through contact with the unconscious body, then strangle the victim dead before disposing of the body usually by burying it in his back yard. His next intended target is Beryl Evans, a young woman who has just moved into a flat in his building. Beryl's husband, Tim Evans, is an illiterate man who likes to put on airs. Already with an infant daughter named Geraldine, the Evanses learn they are going to have another baby, which they cannot afford to have, nor can they afford to abort the pregnancy. This problem, on top of the constant issue of lack of... Written by
Richard Attenborough once said of playing John Christie in this film in an interview with "The Times" of London on 18th May 1970: "I do not like playing the part, but I accepted it at once without seeing the script. I have never felt so totally involved in any part as this. It is a most devastating statement on capital punishment". See more »
The position of the manhole cover changes from shot to shot when the police lift its lid after Evans' "confession" - first it is seen (as it was in real life) in the middle of the road opposite No.10 with the front door to the house closed, but in the next close-up shot we see it being lifted up from a position in front of a bay window from a house further down the street, with the front door of (supposedly) No.10 open See more »
This British thriller is one of the best films I have ever seen. It tells the story of John Christie, the serial killer whose "career" lasted from the middle 1940's until the early 1950's. The name is taken from the scene of the murders; 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London.
Chillingly portrayed by the great actor Richard Attenborough , Christie was a little mouse of a man who first lured his victims home on some pretext or other, usually by saying that he could perform some desired medical procedure on them, for example, an abortion, which was illegal at the time. Once there, he put them at ease by offering them a cup of tea, deceived them into breathing gas from the pipe, rendering them unconscious, then strangled them. He disposed of the bodies, at first by burying them in the garden, then putting them under the sink in the water closet, and finally by tearing up and replacing floorboards and papering over cupboards.
The primary reasons that Christie was able to do what he did for so long were first of all the war. London was undergoing the blitz, and people had a tendency to disappear during the bombing. Another reason was that he was able to turn the suspicions of the police from him to a not very bright truck driver named Timothy Evans, (played by John Hurt) who was convicted of the death of his baby daughter, and was also suspected in the murder of his wife, but due to English law could only be tried for one or the other of them. He was hanged in 1950. The scene in the film where Evans is hanged is chilling, and quite accurate.
Slow at first and shot on location at the actual scene of the murders, the film shows a dangerous manipulative killer hiding behind a bland, mild exterior. Because he appeared so mild, Christie was all the more terrifying. Attenborough brings this out expertly and the overall effect is very creepy.
This superbly-acted film is British cinema at its' very best.
Cup of tea, anyone?
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