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In late Victorian London, Jack the Ripper has been killing and maiming actresses in the night. The Burtons are forced to take in a lodger due to financial hardship. He seems like a nice young man, but Mrs. Burton suspects him of being the ripper because of some mysterious and suspicious habits, and fears for her beautiful actress niece who lives with them.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the first movies to have a point of view shot representing the killer's perception. See more »
Kitty Langley (Merle Oberon) speaks with an upper class British accent, but sings (dubbed) with an artificial French accent. See more »
Old Cockney Man:
"Murders being committed in our midst. Police inadequate. We intend offering a substantial reward to anyone, citizen or otherwise, who shall give information bringing the murderer or murderers to justice." Hmm.
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This is a great thriller that not enough people have heard of, let alone seen, which is a shame, because it is perhaps the most archetypal black and white Jack-the-Ripper film. The plot is simple but effective - during the Jack-the-Ripper scare, a strange gentleman with a mysterious past rents a room in a London boarding house, to the growing suspicion of the other residents.
This mid forties version of the novel "The Lodger" is the best movie version ever made - which is high praise when you consider that it's been adapted to the screen almost every decade from the silent era to today (a version was just released in 2009 the year of this review), including one by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock himself. Not to mention it's influence on police procedurals (there's a scene at Scotland Yard's Black Museum) and later Ripper films such as "From Hell".
But what makes this version special is that it features strong performances by Laird Cregar as the creepy Mr. Slade, and Merle Oberon as a can-can dancer who comes and goes through the East End at night, just the sort of girl who might fall prey to someone like The Ripper.
Furthermore, this film came out when the film noir style was in full swing, and cinematographers were experimenting with new camera angles and especially the use of low key lighting. Whether or not it can be classified as a bona fide noir or not, it certain shows noir influences, with figures frequently silhouetted in the London fog, and a distinct similarity to the "menaced woman" noir sub-genre typified by films such as "Sorry, Wrong Number".
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