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Man in the Attic: A Movie Review


In 1953, moviegoers had the opportunity to see a Twentieth Century Fox release entitled Man In The Attic with Jack Palance, Francis Bavier (who would eventually become Aunt Bee on the Andy Griffith Show), and a pretty Constance Smith. Based on a short story entitled, The Lodger, the story takes place in London, 1888 where a Jack the Ripper is killing women in Whitechapel.

William and Ellen Harley (Francis Bavier) take in a lodger, a Mr. Slade played by Jack Palance (at the age of 34). Slade is a soft-spoken, polite, yet eccentric individual and immediately almost everybody assumes he is actually Jack the Ripper.

In fact, it is so obvious that he is Jack the Ripper, I assumed as the viewer that there was no way he could be the Ripper at all. I mean, there are no hints at all. the evidence hitting you in the face with all the subtlety of a punch in the mouth. When Slade hears the Ripper was seen with a small black bag, he burns his small black bag. When he comes back to the lodgings covered in blood, he burns his overcoat and hat. He works late at night and cannot be accounted for when the murders occur. When the police calls the Ripper a lunatic, Slade defends him. And, of course, at every opportunity he acts odd and weird and basically just acts like a creep.

In fact, with the script screaming at every moment that Slade is Jack the Ripper, when the movie ends with him being Jack the Ripper, I wondered why I even doubted for a moment he couldn't be. Then I wondered how this sloppy writing ever got made into a movie.

Oddly enough, the scriptwriters show no understanding of Victorian England at all. Everybody has an American accent except when they need caricatures such as the Irish bobby or the cockney prostitute. Also, Constance Smith plays a burlesque dancer with a show that is even attended by the Prince of Wales and the wives who have accompanied their husbands, nodding in appreciation at a bevy of young girls showing off enough skin to make even me uncomfortable.

And did I mention, the London bobbies have flashlights? In 1888?

This movie came with what was called a "classic" DVD collection of horror films. More nonsense to come.

By the bye, Man in the Attic is available for free on The Internet. Enjoy.