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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
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 »
Music by John Philip Sousa
Heard from the television during the opening scene
Also played during the flashback montage See more »
There is a big problem with this movie -- aside from the unecessary and distracting use of the split screen, a passing fad ripped off from Warhol's Chelsea Girls. The first half is an almost flawless police procedural. It doesn't stick to historical facts all that much. Bottomly was a political nobody whose main job was to keep the public thinking that something was being done. The second half deals with Albert DeSalvo the man and is pretty much hyped up and fictional. It turns from a good docudrama into a standard piece of Hollywood baloney. Not a reflection on Tony Curtis's performance. He's better here than in most of his performances, some of which -- Some Like It Hot and The Outsider -- are pretty good. But, first, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. MPD is when two or more whole and integrated personalities inhabit the same body. It may or may not be "real" and in any case is easily faked. And DeSalvo didn't "have it." I don't mean to harp on the issue of historical accuracy. Sometimes, as in Shakespeare in Love, it really doesn't matter much, but in this case it does because it's used as a deus ex machina that resolves all the questions the actual facts raise. Interviews with DeSalva make it clear that he knew exactly what he was doing when he was doing it. And he didn't need help in remembering the facts. He recalled all of the details, including the state of his penis, while he committed the murders. The film changes history and turns him into just another dramatic case of MPD. Nothing is said about his admission that he was also a criminal rapist known to the police as "the green man," who, in the guise of a talent scout, went around measuring girl's busts and hips, thousands of them by his admission. The film also leaves out any reference to his escape from jail and his subsequent recapture wearing a sailor's uniform. He never had the anxiety attack shown in the film. He never went over the edge into irredeemable psychosis. Any competent shrink in reviewing the case would diagnose the real Boston strangler as a socialized type of anti-social personality disorder, the kind of illness that used to be called "psychopath." He was a con man, pure and simple. The ending is dramatic but it's nothing but fictional trash designed to lull an unthinking audience into the belief that even the most loathsome and darkest aspect of human nature has a comprehensible explanation. The twisting of fact is understandable, however. The real, historical explanation, or the lack of it, would give not only the Boston strangler but all the rest of us an anxiety attack. Some people commit thoroughly rotten acts -- and none of the rest of us knows why.
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