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on 30 November 2005
10 Rillington Place is not a fun movie for those looking for a Saturday night popcorn/splatter fest. It is a hard-edged, harrowing account of British mass-murderer John Reginald Christie and his hapless fall guy, Timothy Evans. The film, directed by Richard Fleischer and featuring Richard Attenborough and John Hurt in the two leading roles, is based on the book of the same name written by Ludovic Kennedy. This controversial case, which resulted in two hangings, came back to haunt Britain after everyone thought it had been resolved and was paramount in the abandonment of capital punishment in the UK. The slant in this film is unmistakeable.
Starting in 1949, the Evans family: Timothy, his wife Beryl and their baby daughter Geraldine, arrived at Christie's dingy Rillinton Place address to rent the flat on the top floor. Christie had already killed two women by this time and would continue to do so after the Evans's had gone. Timothy Evans was a compulsive liar of rather limited intelligence and it was his gullibility combined with Christie's manipulative talents which would eventually get him into trouble.
Posing as a backyard abortionist, Christie sets to work on the newly-pregnant Beryl with predictably awful results and this is one of the most distressing scenes in this very disturbing film. He then convinces Evans that he should leave or face the consequences, promising to place the baby in the care of some friends in Acton. For Evans, as if things weren't bad enough already, they only get worse from here.
Shot in the original street and using exteriors fronm the actual house, the film has a very stark confronting look with a seedy brown look, all accentuated by the quietness and lack of music. The acting is very powerful: Attenborough being particularly villainous and the direction is very tight. Intelligently scripted and with no actual gore, it is "the thinking person's horror movie". The result is superb pace and an utterly chilling atmosphere. I think the feeling I got most from this film was one of absolute helplessness and revulsion. A first rate film which makes a very clear point, 10 Rillington Place has a very important message for all and goes way beyond other films of the same genre.
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on 20 December 2010
This is one of the most chilling movies I have ever seen. The murders scenes were not particulary gory,the scenery was average and not haunting, but Richard Attenborough's calm and collected voice throughout the movie is - goosebumpish, spine chilling, got to look away, frightening. He doesn't yell, scream or lose it. The voice is always soft, kind, gentle and very helpful. Who else could make a soft, sweet voice sound so menacing. That is great acting. Anyone can decapitate limbs these days in the movies (remember 300!) However, when a little man opens the door and says "Hello" you are yelling at the TV "run away". It is all in the voice. CHILLING!!
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on 22 September 2007
One reviewer wrote: "It's impossible for anyone who has seen this film not to be affected by it.." how true!
I saw it on television when I was around seventeen or so, and it scared me badly. Ominous, dark and saturated with an all pervading uneasiness throughout, it WILL remain in the memory always.Pat Heywood who plays Mrs. Christie looks petrified, she knows, and in one chilling segment Reg in all consuming self-pity declares: "I should be in hospital" Mrs. Christie replies: "I know where you should be.." I'll never forget the look she gave him.
Even the authentic exterior street scenes are unsettling.
Truly a horrible case that occurred in our time-essential viewing for the stout hearted.
Truly a masterpiece that will never be bettered.
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on 2 August 2007
A classic piece of British film making. As accurate as a film can be, where-ever possible in the film the dialogue has been based on official documentation. Couple this with outstanding performances and attention to detail ( it was even filmed at Rillington Place, albeit a few doors down from the actual house ) makes this film a must-see. I remember visiting Madam Tussauds waxwork museum in London as a kid in the 70s and seeing Christie's waxwork in the chamber of horrors where Christie is stood, brush in hand having wallpapered over a cavity in the wall where he put bodies of his victims, I have no idea if the waxwork is still there today.
If you are expecting a slasher type fim then this is not for you. If you want a film that is dark, creepy and atmospheric with a top notch script and performances then this is definately for you. Don't be put off by the fact that it was made in 1971. As good today as it ever was.
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The films kicks off straight away with the grisly goings on inside number 10 Rillington Place as we see mild mannered John Christie coldly killing a woman in his flat. This immediately establishes him as the monster he was, and heightens the tension when a young couple move into the flat upstairs and Christie fires odd menacing glances at the pretty Beryl Evans.

There's been no attempt made to polish the setting for the film, it's presented in a grim way which adds to the realism of this true-life story (although this is a film based on a book of events rather than a de-facto documentary film, but it certainly seems as close to the truth as we'll ever know). Richard Attenborough is absolutely brilliant as the disturbing John Christie. His slow, deliberate, soft-spoken delivery help create the persona of an intelligent man who can ask if you want a cup of tea in a way which sends shivers down your spine.

Such a scene stealing character would threaten to swamp the film, but John Hurt balances out the cast as the considerably less articulate John Evans. It would have been easy to have presented the characters as two-dimensional, but instead of being stereotyped as the `calculating killer' and `the simple one' - the actors bring a depth which makes the film a compelling watch.

When you watch Attenborough in his portrayal of the quiet serial killer, you are reminded of a much more famous and fictional one - Hannibal Lector. I'm not saying that Hopkins' Lector was influenced by Attenborough's Christie but there are some similarities, and in a scene set in a homeless shelter Attenborough looks eerily like everyone's favourite cannibal.

In a nutshell: Horrific events from inside one of Britain's most notorious addresses are brought to your screen in a non-glitzy way which further reminds you that this is all based on true events. John Hurt is excellent as the hapless Evans but it's Richard Attenborough who dominates with his creepy depiction of the Notting Hill Strangler. This film makes a perfect compliment to other related true-life films Let Him Have It and Pierrepoint.
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on 17 November 2007
I remember following the Christie murders as a kid much to my father's concern but after all, it was all over the papers.
Little did I know that in the early Seventies as a sales rep having lunch in my car one day that I would actually go inside 10 Rillington Place.
They were filming at the actual site (later demolished) and no-one was around. I wish I hadn't gone in, so cold and unwelcoming was the condemned house and I made a swift exit with the experience staying on my mind for days..
The film itself is depressingly brilliant with great performances from Attenborough, Geeson and Hurt ..... the story is well known and puts many an American "serial killer" movie into the shade. Attenborough wasn't known in the States then and it had limited success there.
Those interested in murder for ghoulish reasons needn't bother with this film - there's no explicit sex and blood flying around - but for the intelligent film goer it's an account of how twisted the human mind can be.
An excellent film.
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on 6 February 2008
The centrepiece of this unsettling study of the depressing banality of human evil is an extraordinary performance by Richard Attenborough as serial killer John Christie. Attenborough plays Christie as a soft-voiced curtain-twitcher hiding behind a thin veneer of respectability - imagine, if you can, a psychopathic Norris from Coronation Street and you're almost there. There's excellent support from John Hurt as his simple-minded lodger Timothy Evans and Judy Geeson as Evans' wife, but it's Attenborough who dominates, bestriding this film like a colossus and delivering the performance of a lifetime. Set in a dark and ravaged post-war London, this film is about as far from the glamour of Hannibal Lecter as it's possible to get, and all the more disturbing for it. Be warned - this is a film that leaves you feeling uneasy long after the credits have rolled.
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on 18 March 2010
10 Rillington Place makes great play with being made in the actual locations where John Christie committed his murders (or most of them - evidence from his collection of pubic hair suggested there were more, unidentified). In fact it was filmed in the vacant 7 Rillington Place, when the inhabitants of No. 10 refused to move out for filming.

Nevertheless it can lay legitimate claim to being one of the finest examples of British fact-based drama of the period. The conviction (pardon the pun) it carries first lies in the ambience which Richard Fleischer created. Fleischer had earlier directed the far flashier "Boston Strangler", an exercise in grand guignol and screen trickery; here he tones it right down for the drab, depressing post-war world of rationing, bomb craters, perpetual rain, peeling wallpaper... As is fitting from the title, the house itself is a major character. Wandering around this gloomy crumbling house with its grubby net curtains and cracked lino, its bare gas rings and its outside lavatory in the bar yard, you see this as both a psychic extension of Christie's mind and almost a mechanism for triggering madness.

The other major factor in the films success - its realism, its terror, and its emotional pull - are the twin performances of John Hurt (Timothy Evans) and Richard Attenborough (Christie). Attenborough was on a personal acting roll which started with "A Dock Brief" (1962) and continued until "The Human Factor" (1979) when he turned his energies more exclusively to directing. In these years he never put a foot wrong, even in rubbish movies. Here Attenborough seizes on the fact that Christie was gassed in the Great War and as a result was incapable of speaking above a whisper. The smooth sibilant unemotional voice is perfect for the little mediocrity who passes unnoticed among his fellows. But it also conveys extremely subtlety the psychological pressures and psychotic impulses behind the steel-rimmed glasses. The means of killing - poisoning by domestic gas (coal gas in the 1940s) followed by bludgeoning and raping - is not fudged in any way, unlike "Boston Strangler", which was geared to the more squeamish US mass market.

Hurt is equally brilliant in this early role, because at no time does he suggest that Evans is remotely likeable. Boasting, bullying, fantasising, stupid to the point of being mentally challenged (as we have to say these days), he is an overgrown child playing at what he thinks a man should be. The way that he walks blithely to his death, putting the noose further round his neck with every action, makes you want to throw things at the screen - but in an entirely good sense. The only weak point is Judy Geeson as the wife, Beryl, a 60s "chick" actress who marred many a contemporary movie with her faux charm and woodenness of delivery.

The posthumous enquiry (1965/6) which looked at Evans' case again and led to his pardon concluded that he had probably murdered his wife but not his daughter. The film insists on his innocence on both counts, although he is an accessory in disposing of her body. This seems to me a legitimate interpretation.

Capital punishment was abolished in the UK only two years before this film was released, but the argument was far from won, and even today a majority of the public favours a return to it. This film was a passionate advocate for abolition, and even today its anger, its pain and its horror (especially the execution scene) speak as powerfully as ever. I would recommend it to anyone who has even a scintilla of sympathy for bringing back the death penalty.
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on 19 June 2010
A dark atmospheric thriller chronicling the crimes of John Christie.This really is a treasure of British cinema never given the recognition it deserves.At least this dvd release goes some way to address this.Attenborough is excellent in the lead role
a more restrained performance than his portrayal of Pinky in Brighton Rock but none less menacing or sinister.It's amazing how he plays Christie as a man who can see no wrong in his actions wallowing in his own self importance even in the court room
scenes.The murder of his wife seems to bring a realisation of his actions to Christie yet his compulsive personality still tries to supress this.The on location filming adds a realistic touch of gloom and intimidation as we see the scene of Christies horrific acts.The show belongs to Attenborough with a masterful portrayal of at the time a real murderer who would have still been fresh in the memory of many.Extras include a commentary and interview with Attenborough.A disc worthy of any collection
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on 16 December 2005
This is an excellent film which really does so much to make you remember that serial killers like Christie are seedy disturbing drab people. This is not a film that is intended to thrill you at the expense of the underlying message: murder is murder. Kennedy's book of the same name is faithfully reproduced in the film. It's important to realise that at the time, the prosecution messed up the case and withheld key forensic evidence into the death of Beryl Evans. It's also important to realise that a jury was perhaps swayed by the fact that Christie was somehow more respectable than Evans. He had, after all, been a special constable. Evans was a half wit who struggled to articulate his feelings in words and frequently resorted to terrible arguments with his wife. Not only did this case help to bring capital punishment of the statute books it also brought in a vital defence to a murder charge: diminished responsibility. Evans was hanged for a murder he did not commit, Christie carried on killing. Both Hurt and Attenborough are magnificent.
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