Man in the Attic (1953)

Article 2199 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-24-2007
Posting Date: 8-20-2007
Directed by Hugo Fregonese
Featuring Jack Palance, Constance Smith, Byron Palmer

While the Jack the Ripper murders are terrifying Whitechapel, a mysterious pathologist comes to stay in the home of an elderly couple. They soon begin to suspect that their new lodger is none other than Jack the Ripper, but their actress niece begins to fall for the man.

This is the fourth and last (to date) cinematic version of Marie Belloc Lowndes’ novel “The Lodger”, though a fifth version is apparently in the works. It is also one of the lesser versions of the story. This is not to say that it’s bad; it features good performances from Jack Palance, and I also enjoyed both Frances Bavier and Rhys Williams as the elderly couple. It also has an exciting chase scene near the end of the movie. It’s just that it can’t really compete with either Hitchcock’s 1927 silent version of the movie or Laird Cregar’s 1944 take on the story. Overfamiliarity with the story also works against it; the scene where the lodger proceeds to turn all the pictures in his room to the wall might have been more effective had I not seen it done much better in the Hitchcock movie, and there are few surprises in the story. Still, the movie does manage to keep you wondering as to whether the lodger is actually Jack the Ripper or not, and it helps that I’ve seen the answer to this question go in opposite directions in various other versions of the movie. I always enjoy seeing Palance at work as well; one thing I’ve really come to appreciate about him as an actor was that he played a much wider variety of characters than I had thought previous to my starting this whole project.



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