HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
Benediction
Nezha Reborn
Evil Toons
Worst Person in the World, The
Whirlpool
Hunter Will Get You
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Revolver
Men, The
Parallel Mothers
Sadness, The
Bloody New Year
Faye
Body Count
Spider-Man: No Way Home
'Round Midnight
Wild Men
Barry & Joan
Wake Up Punk
Twin, The
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
One of These Days
Lift to the Scaffold
Savage Dawn
Rest in Pieces
Innocents in Paris
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Beyond the Door 3
Jules et Jim
Love Jones
Saint-Narcisse
Souvenir Part II, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
   
 
  Man in the Attic Jack knows Jack about Jack
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, RomanceBuy from Amazon
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 1601 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Enoch Sneed
   

 

Last Updated: