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London, 1949. John Christie is an unassuming, middle-aged man who, along with his wife Ethel, lives in the ground-floor flat at 10 Rillington Place. His 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 somewhere in the house or outside area. His next intended target is Beryl Evans, a young woman who has just moved into the top flat in the house. 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 money ... Written by
According to the commentary by John Hurt on the DVD, real-life retired executioner Albert Pierrepoint was a technical advisor for the execution scene. This scene was the first British people had seen in a cinema of a British hanging, and as it was still covered under the government's Official Secrets Act, no details regarding the scene were available. This is where Pierrepoint came in, under an assumed name, and was able to re-create the harrowing scene to maximize the true terror of what it must have been like. 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 »
A film which shows why the death penalty will never return to the UK.
10 Rillington Place is more than a classic film. It is frequently referred to whenever the call for the death penalty is made in Britain. The notorious miscarriage of justice i.e the hanging of Timothy Evans, an immature half-wit, for the murder of his wife and child when it is almost universally accepted that they perished at the hands of John "Reg" Christie, is one which will always haunt the British legal system. When Christie was found guilty and hanged as a serial killer of women, the body of Evans was exhumed and reburied in consecrated ground but this did nothing to hide the embarrassment of those who supported the death penalty.
The film itself is a dark and brooding masterpiece which depicts life in post-war London perfectly. The grim, dirty, rain-washed Rillington Place in Notting Hill was a seedy side-street which housed the poor but largely respectable families which had survived the blitz. John Christie had moved down from the North to find work in the capital but ill-health and a penchant for petty crime prevented him from being successful.
Richard Attenborough plays the downtrodden but curiously arrogant Christie to perfection. His voice almost a whisper as he lauds it over London's underclasses. In fact Christie was not a landlord, as many believe, he was merely a tenant who fancied himself to be a landlord and acted accordingly. He also dreamed of being a doctor, with devastating consequences. His treatment of the poor, subnormal Evans (John Hurt) and his beautiful but foolish young wife, Beryl, (Judy Geeson) was centred around their desire for an abortion - illegal in the UK until the late 1960s.
John Hurt is very good as the hapless Evans although his Welsh accent needed refining. His look of wide eyed horror and disbelief is a sight to behold. Geeson pouts and whinges and looks gorgeous: the kind of wife any man would desire and yet the kind destined to irritate intensely.
The key to appreciating 10 Rillington Place is to have some idea of its setting in British history. To wander in clueless will result in disappointment. There is no gore or x-rated content of any kind and its slow pace will infuriate many. Yet, as a snapshot of an England now gone and a reminder of the folly of capital punishment it is a timeless classic worthy of many viewings.
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