7.1/10
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83 user 66 critic

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.

Director:

Richard Fleischer

Writers:

Edward Anhalt (screenplay), Gerold Frank (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:
Tony Curtis ... Albert DeSalvo
Henry Fonda ... John S. Bottomly
George Kennedy ... Phil DiNatale
Mike Kellin ... Julian Soshnick
Hurd Hatfield ... Terence Huntley
Murray Hamilton ... Frank McAfee
Jeff Corey ... John Asgeirsson
Sally Kellerman ... Dianne Cluny
William Marshall ... Edward W.Brooke
George Voskovec ... Peter Hurkos
Leora Dana ... Mary Bottomly
Carolyn Conwell Carolyn Conwell ... Irmgard DeSalvo
Jeanne Cooper ... Cloe
Austin Willis Austin Willis ... Dr. Nagy
Lara Lindsay ... 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:

This is the true story of Albert DeSalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler, and of what he did to thirteen women and one city. See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Frauenmörder von Boston See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$17,810,894, 31 December 1968
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Her role as Edna became the final film role for Enid Markey, ending a career of almost sixty years. See more »

Goofs

A shot of Tony Curtis, in a doorway, includes a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado in the background, at a time (in the story) which is supposedly 1963-64 (shortly after JFK's funeral). See more »

Quotes

Terence Huntley: I'm sorry to disappoint you - she played the man's part, I the woman.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 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 »

Alternate Versions

The original UK cinema version suffered heavy BBFC cuts with edits to shots of a woman's dead body, the murder scenes, and the removal of graphic descriptions of the murder victims. Video versions were cut by 1 min 5 secs and reduced the torture of Dianne Cluny to a series of flash shots by removing facial closeups, a shot of her kicking, and detailed footage of her arms and legs being tied to the bed. The cuts were fully restored in the 2004 TCF widescreen DVD. See more »

Connections

Referenced in All in the Family: Prisoner in the House (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Give Me the Simple Life
(uncredited)
Music by Rube Bloom
Played in the bar when Di Natale is talking to Carr
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
True-crime drama features Tony Curtis in career-best performance
21 January 2005 | by LibretioSee all my reviews

THE BOSTON STRANGLER (1968)

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: 4-track magnetic stereo

The true story of serial killer Albert DeSalvo (Tony Curtis), a devoted family man with a split personality who terrorised Boston during the early 1960's and murdered eleven women.

Perhaps taking its cue from the success of Richard Brooks' true crime drama IN COLD BLOOD (1967), Richard Fleischer's THE BOSTON STRANGLER is a dignified, unsensational account of Albert DeSalvo's notorious crimes and the wide-ranging police investigation which led to his arrest. However, modern viewers may be alarmed by the casual references to 'faggots', and a screenplay (by Edward Anhalt, from the book by Gerold Frank) which assumes a divide between 'normal' heterosexual behaviour and other forms of sexuality, all of which are bracketed as seedy, deviant and marginalised. That small (but significant) caveat aside, the movie provides an effective overview of a complex case, and Curtis - an unlikely choice for such a difficult role - gives a career-best performance as the deranged killer whose routine domestic life provided no hint of the monster lurking within his psyche. Henry Fonda is his nemesis, a dedicated law lecturer assigned to the case against his will, who eventually secured DeSalvo's confession. Some of the crime-scene details are fairly frank for a major release of the period, though the worst of it is relayed through dialogue and reaction shots, and visual depictions are kept to a bare minimum. Even for those familiar with the outcome of the case, the movie generates suspense through an accumulation of historical evidence, as Boston's terrified populace reacts convulsively to the maniac in their midst, and police trawl the streets for anyone whose sexual peccadilloes mark them as possible suspects.

Fleischer was a particular advocate of the widescreen format (he photographed most of his films anamorphically after being bowled over by a demonstration of CinemaScope in 1953), and his modish use of split-screen effects is completely diminished whenever the movie is broadcast on TV (you'll need a big screen to get even a modicum of the intended effect!). While irritating for some, there's nothing gratuitous about this technical device, by which Fleischer is able to convey layers of relevant information within the space of a single scene, whereas a conventional approach might have taken more time and necessitated the removal of crucial information (note also the clever use of directional dialogue and sound effects during these episodes). Few of the murders are recreated in any detail, but there's a couple of unsettling scenes which describe the cunning manner in which DeSalvo was able to gain access to his victims despite a city-wide alert over the Strangler's crimes, and Sally Kellerman is hugely sympathetic as the only woman to survive one of DeSalvo's brutal assaults.

NB. While Fleischer's film takes DeSalvo's guilt wholly for granted, the facts which condemned him have been challenged in robust terms by a number of sources throughout the years (most recently in Susan Kelly's 2002 book 'The Boston Stranglers: The Public Conviction of Albert DeSalvo and the True Story of Eleven Shocking Murders'), and much of the evidence which 'exonerates' DeSalvo is as compelling as anything in the movie. DeSalvo himself died in 1973, murdered by a fellow inmate whilst serving time in Walpole Prison.


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