HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Hitchhikers, The
For All Mankind
Glass Key, The
Captor, The
Hide in Plain Sight
Wildlife
X2
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Heiress, The
Cold Pursuit
Firestorm
Dogs of War, The
Holy Mountain, The
Piercing
Under Fire
Jennifer on My Mind
People on Sunday
Lethal Weapon 4
Downhill Racer
Emily
Odette
Escape Room
Across the Pacific
Madeline's Madeline
You're Gonna Miss Me
Iron Sky: The Coming Race
Derby
Mortal Engines
Union City
Knife+Heart
Little Stranger, The
Sauvage
Watermelon Man
Wandering Earth, The
Good Fairy, The
Killer Party
Holmes & Watson
Monster in the Closet
Sand, The
Glass
   
 
Newest Articles
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
   
 
  Man in the Attic Jack knows Jack about JackBuy this film here.
Year: 1953
Director: Hugo Fregonese
Stars: Jack Palance, Constance Smith, Byron Palmer, Francis Bavier, Rhys Williams, Sean McClory, Leslie Bradley, Tita Phillips, Lester Matthews, Harry Cording, Lisa Daniels, Lilian Bond, Isabel Jewell
Genre: Musical, Drama, Thriller, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: London, 1888. Jack the Ripper terrorizes Whitechapel by night, always one step ahead of the police. Amidst these grisly crimes chatty landlady Helen Harley (Francis Bavier) welcomes a new lodger: jittery pathologist Mr. Slade (Jack Palance) who carries a suspicious bag and only goes out to work after dark. At first Helen's suspicions are scoffed at by husband William (Rhys Williams) and debonair Inspector Warwick (Byron Palmer) of Scotland Yard. Yet everyone grows concerned when the Harley's newly-arrived niece Lily Bonner (Constance Smith), a vivacious young actress, catches Slade's eye...

Man in the Attic was based on the novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes, a fictionalized account of the Ripper murders adapted for the screen several times. Most notably by Alfred Hitchcock for his breakthrough silent film in 1927, then again by Maurice Elvey in 1932, John Brahm in the best known Hollywood version in 1944, and most recently David Ondaatje in 2009. This 1953 version is a glossy atmospheric B-movie released by Twentieth Century Fox and directed by versatile journeyman Hugo Fregonese. The Argentinean-born filmmaker dabbled in crime thrillers and westerns, including the likable Joel McCrea vehicle Saddle Tramp (1950) and Blowing Wild (1953) a team-up of Gary Cooper with Barbara Stanwyck. In the Sixties he decamped to Europe helming a string of Karl May westerns and co-directing The Devilish Dr. Mabuse (1964) before delivering one of his strangest films: the Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina) werewolf romp Assignment Terror (1970). Come the Seventies, Fregonese returned to his native Argentina ending his career with a run of melodramas.

Compared with earlier films its grasp of a fog shrouded Victorian milieu filled with chatty police constables and brassy but doomed streetwalkers is almost charmingly corny. On top of that Fregonese intersperses the murder sequences and psychological drama with silly (but still fun) musical numbers featuring Lily and her ooh-la-la band of French showgirls flirting it up onstage in racy, if unlikely given the period, attire. Missing from the film is all but the faintest hint of satirical indictment of Victorian bourgeois hypocrisy along with any tangible attempt at suspense.

Things get off to a solid start as amiable constables Sean McClory and Leslie Bradley arrive too late to prevent the Ripper from claiming his third victim. However Jack Palance's saturnine features, nervous tics and manic intensity instantly mark him as guilty. The script, co-written by Barré Lyndon and Robert Presnell Jr., stacks the deck so heavily against Slade modern viewers will be expecting a twist that simply does not happen. To its credit the film foreshadows a plot conceit developed more substantially in Michael Mann's Manhunter (1986) and Brett Ratner's Red Dragon (2002), both adapted from the same novel by Thomas Harris. Motivated by the love of a good woman the murderer has a fleeting glimpse of his own dormant humanity and makes a halfhearted attempt at embracing a normal relationship. Yet the script also grafts a pat psychological rationale for the Ripper's aberrant behaviour that is very 1950s.

Both Palance and Constance Smith (a talented yet tragically ill-fated actress) are very good in their roles but Man in the Attic is sorely lacking in nuance. It merely confirms the paranoia and mistrust built into its Victorian protagonists. Interestingly although Helen Harley remains consistent in her polite mistrust and suspicion of Slade, her attitude towards the sexually liberated Lily and showgirls is disarmingly progressive. Nonetheless the film makes a point of portraying its heroines as flighty, over-emotional and prone to lapses in judgement (including Queen Victoria who is mentioned off-screen as believing the murderer could not possibly be married nor an Englishman) while the male characters remain rational and sane. Which inadvertently endorses a disdain for women shared by Jack the Ripper. And that ain't good.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 146 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Rachel Franke
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
George White
   

 

Last Updated: