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United Kingdom 1971
Directed by
Richard Fleischer
111 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

10 Rillington Place

American Director Richard Fleischer had already directed a real-life serial killer film The Boston Strangler (1968), memorable for its against-type performance by Tony Curtis, so he was a likely choice to helm another film about someone with a similar bent, Londoner, John Christie.

In the lead, Richard Attenborough gives a very different performance to Curtis  - subdued to the point of anonymity  - but it is creepily note perfect. Not surprising as Attenborough, whose acting career started in the late '40s when the film opens, had by this time played many dull little Englishmen notably in Séance On A Wet Afternoon (1964) in many films set in the drabness of lower middle class London.

10 Rillington Place is much darker fare than Attenborough is usually associated with but he is outstanding in portraying Christie as a meekly proper nonentity with a seriously demented secret life. John Hurt is also impressive as the illiterate, boasting tenant who wrongly hangs for the murder of his wife (played by Judy Geeson) and child, crimes which Christie committed.

Based on a book by Ludociv Kennedy, who is also credited as technical adviser, there is no explanation of Christie’s motivations, Instead we are simply presented with Christie’s inconceivable perversions and the dreary banality of post-war London, The combination is sufficient to make for a very effective film.

FYI: Christie was hanged on July 1953 by Albert Pierrepoint, subject of the 2005 movie, Pierrepont: The Last Hangman.




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