Man in the Attic – USA, 1953

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Man in the Attic is a 1953 mystery horror film directed by Hugo Fregonese. The movie, based on the 1913 novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes, fictionalizes the Jack the Ripper killings. It stars Jack Palance, Constance Smith, Byron Palmer, Frances Bavier and Rhys Williams.

London, 1888: On the third night of the Jack the Ripper killings, a man rents out an attic from an older couple in need of extra income. The man (Jack Palance), a research pathologist, begins working on his experiments in the rooms. Helen Harley, the landlady (Frances Bavier), becomes suspicious of the man, especially when her niece shows an interest in him.

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Reviews:

“Why use the backdrop of one of the most intriguing serial killer stories in history in order to tell a fairly drab story about a creepy guy who turns out to be the killer (in a film that offers no other suspects to boot)? It hardly makes for gripping cinema, nor does it really teach you anything about the real case.” Horror Movie a Day

“Palance is free of the breathy, asthmatic overacting of the performances he gave in later life and with gaunt, bony face he has effectively harsh and sinister presence in the film. This version is better budgeted than the 1944 version and directed with a basic, although not standout, competence. However, it also lacks the entertainingly overwrought melodramaticism of the 1944 version…” Moria

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“I wasn’t very keen on how certain characters and locations were ‘Americanised’ by default. Especially when you take into consideration that Man in the Attic was meant to be a English based film set in London. (Pssst! If you look very closely at the daytime scenes, you can clearly see American style sidewalks and houses in the backgrounds).” Comic Book and Movie Reviews

“Palance finds in Slade a character whom his forced, clunky, and erratic acting actually makes more convincing than would be the case had he been portrayed with even the slightest touch of finesse. It is for this reason that Palance’s presence here does not have its usual effect, dragging an otherwise quite classy movie down into the gutter. Instead, he and his character fit right into their place in the film, which, while by no means a classic, is a sturdy little piece of work, and one which deserves to be better known.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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