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Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

An aspiring reporter is the key witness at the murder trial of a young man accused of cutting a café owner's throat and is soon accused of a similar crime himself.

Director:

Boris Ingster

Writer:

Frank Partos (story and screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Peter Lorre ... The Stranger
John McGuire ... Michael
Margaret Tallichet ... Jane
Charles Waldron Charles Waldron ... District Attorney
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Joe Briggs
Charles Halton ... Meng
Ethel Griffies ... Mrs. Kane
Cliff Clark ... Martin
Oscar O'Shea ... The Judge
Alec Craig ... Defense Attorney
Otto Hoffman ... Police Surgeon
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Storyline

Rising reporter Michael Ward is the key witness in the murder trial of young Joe Briggs, who is convicted on circumstantial evidence while swearing innocence. Michael's girl Jane believes in Joe and blames Michael, who (in a remarkable sequence) dreams he is himself convicted of murdering his nosy neighbor. Will his dream come true before Jane can find the real murderer? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Trailing a "tiptoe" killer! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El desconegut del tercer pis See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$171,200 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Lorre owed RKO two days on his contract and was given this role with few scenes and few lines, but received top billing. See more »

Goofs

When Jane leaves the coffee shop to follow The Stranger, the shades on the doors are higher in the outside shot than they were from the inside camera angle. See more »

Quotes

Michael: [referring to Meng] Did you ever want to kill a man?
Martin: My son, there's murder in every *intelligent* man's heart.
Michael: He's no man. He's a worm - the kind you ought to jump on with heavy boots.
Martin: You'll have to do an awful lot of jumping. The Earth is covered with 'em.
Michael: [while absentmindedly gesturing with his dinner knife] It'd be a real pleasure to cut his throat.
Martin: Say, you're not kidding. Put down that knife!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Vision Éternel: Pièce No. Trois (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Creepy Mr. Lorre
3 July 2005 | by Mike-764See all my reviews

Reporter Mike Ward's testimony sends Briggs to the electric chair for the gruesome murder of a luncheonette owner. He feels remorse over the fact that the evidence was circumstantial and Briggs may have been innocent. Arriving home he sees a creepy looking stranger leave his next door neighbor's apartment and then starts to wonder when he doesn't hear his neighbor's snoring. He suspects that his neighbor, Meng, may be dead and that he might be convicted of the crime. After a bizarre dream, he feels that he was just on edge and they everything is all right. This is all dashed when he finds his neighbor dead and then runs to his girlfriend, Jane, looking for answers. He returns to his apartment and thinks that Meng and the Briggs murder may be the work of the same man, but the police feel that Mike may be the killer. Can Jane find the mysterious stranger in time to help Mike, before the stranger strikes again? Good movie with some great flashback sequences and one very surreal (and well done) dream sequence. Lorre was only fulfilling a contract with RKO and has little to do in the movie but is very effective as the stranger. The rest of the cast may be only Hollywood bit players, but are perfectly cast in their roles. Great ending. Rating, 8.


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