Review: ‘Stranger on the Third Floor’

Yarn concerns a stern newspaper reporter whose testimony proves the circumstantial evidence that convicts an innocent man. The familiar artifice of placing the scribe in parallel plight, with the newspaperman arrested for two slayings and only clearing himself because of his sweetheart's persistent search for the real slayer, is used.

Yarn concerns a stern newspaper reporter whose testimony proves the circumstantial evidence that convicts an innocent man. The familiar artifice of placing the scribe in parallel plight, with the newspaperman arrested for two slayings and only clearing himself because of his sweetheart’s persistent search for the real slayer, is used.

Peter Lorre, cast as the maniacal murder, is not seen for nearly two reels. It is only in the final footage that he has much of anything to do. By that time, the picture has lost its momentum. Absence of action and humor is a further handicap.

Unknown from NY, John McGuire, as the newspaperman, needs considerably more grooming with the RKO stock company, while Margaret Tallichet is only passable. Charles Waldron makes an acceptable d.a. while Elisha Cook Jr is satisfying in the role of the innocent man railroaded to jail.

Boris Ingster’s direction is too studied and when original, lacks the flare to hold attention. It’s a film too arty for average audiences, and too humdrum for others.

Stranger on the Third Floor

Production

RKO. Director Boris Ingster; Producer Lee Marcus; Screenplay Frank Partos; Camera Nicholas Musuraca; Editor Harry Marker; Music Roy Webb; Art Director Van Nest Polglase, Albert S. D'Agostino

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 67 MIN.

With

Peter Lorre John McGuire Margaret Tallichet Charles Waldron Elisha Cook Jr Charles Halton
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