Man In The Attic CoverNow if anybody ever tries to sell you a loft-conversion, please, for the love of Donald, tell them to go and 'f*ck a duck'. OK? Or else you might end up with the following 83 minute movie made in 1953. It was Directed by: Hugo Fregonese; and Starred: Jack Palance, Constance Smith, Frances Bavier, with Byron Palmer.

Man in the Attic

Do you know how some people can like you one minute and hate you the next? Well, with all due respect I'd say my landlady Helen Harley (Frances Bavier) is just such a person.

Now a few nights ago when I first entered their boarding house and rented a room off of Helen and her husband, William, (Rhys Williams), Helen was so happy with the five pounds I gave her, she came up to me and said in a soft gratifying voice, 'Why thank you most kindly for paying me a whole months rent in advance, Mister Slade (Jack Palance). If all my tenants were as generous as you, I'm sure the world would be a much better place'. Yet as time ticked on she started to become suspicious of my nocturnal activities. Going so far as to accuse me of being none other than 'Jack the Ripper' himself.

I mean, come off it! Do I look like a killer to you? What with my funny working hours. Obtuse behavior. Bag of sharp medical implements. Plus disdain for pictures depicting actresses in bold and lavish poses. 

No. Of course I don't. Do I? I'm no knife wielding maniac that frowns upon all woman-kind. As a matter a fact women in general are very pleasing to my eye. Like Helen's younger niece, Lily Bonner (Constance Smith), for example. Who befriends me during the day, whilst singing on stage during the night. 

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires flashes her knickers when me, Lily, and Inspector Warwick (Byron Palmer) pay a visit to the black museum. As a knife wielding maniac goes on the prowl - a household starts to scream and scowl - a stray fingerprint ultimately condemns - and at the end of the day, our mate Jack takes a trip along the River Thames.

Now 'Man in the Attic' was a film recommended to me by a fellow Ripperologist I know on facebook. And as I've already reviewed the Hitchcock original a few months back, I thought, hey, why not? I might as well check out the Jack Palance version next. After all, 'Palance' himself does kind of resemble a version of 'The Ripper' due to his gruff demeanor. Visually speaking, of course.

Man In The Attic Starring Sexy Constance SmithHowever, now that I've finally found some time to sit down and watch it, on the whole it's fairly difficult for me to say if I actually liked it or not. Despite it not being a bad film to follow, in the same breath it wasn't a marked improvement on the original either.

You see, dear reader, my main problem with this movie was how it became rather irritating on a historical level. For instance, nearing it's conclusion there's a scene where a couple of policemen go wading through the River Thames. The only problem with this, though, is that you can't wade through the River Thames.

Then there's the fact that 'Jacks' last conical victim wasn't called Mary Lenihan. She was called Mary Kelly. She was his fifth victim and not his sixth. Plus she wasn't discovered until the following day.

Also, I best mention that Inspector Littlechild wasn't a conventional beat detective, in real life he was a member of the 'Special Branch' assigned to investigate the 'IRA'. Plus lets not forget that fingerprinting techniques weren't established in the UK until 1892 -- four years after the last murder was committed.

OK. I know that some of you out there might think I'm a little bit OCD for picking up on these historical gaffs. But I've got to be frank with you, dear reader, they did grate on my nerves the more I was watching this movie. Making me like it yet hate it at any given turn of the plot.

Well, as I said before, this is one of those productions that was both good and bad in fairly equal measures. On the one hand I did enjoy how every single one of the actors were able to express a lot of character throughout their depictions (even in the more minor roles, like the two policemen on patrol). What's more I got a right kick out of those 'music hall' numbers because they made my loins stir a real treat, too -- if you catch my drift -- wink-wink! On the other hand, however, I wasn't very keen on how certain characters and locations were 'Americanized' by default. Especially when you take into consideration that 'Man in The Attic' was meant to be a English based film set in Victorian era London (Pssst! If you look very closely at the daytime scenes, you can clearly see American styled sidewalks and houses in the backgrounds).

Man In The Attic Starring Jack Palance

Man In The Attic Starring Jack Palance and Constance Smith
Anyway. That's enough of my bi-polar musings for the moment, movie mates. As I'm sure by now you know what I think about this flick, and it would be a pretty good time for the following filmic-facts. (1) 'Twentieth Century Fox' first released this production on the same month John Wayne starred in the western, 'Hondo'. It was on the 23rd of December, 1953. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Strange Mister Slade' in France; 'The Hand Shadows' in Italy; and 'The Sinister Lodger' in West Germany. (3) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'The Life. The Loves. The Crimes of Jack the Ripper!'. (4) The majority of this movie was shot at '20th Century Fox Studios', Century City, located within the Californian state of Los Angeles. (5) 'The Dear Little Shamrock' song was sung by the popular 50's singer, Lisa Daniels, and yes, this was her first appearance in a feature length film. (6) Just like its predecessor -- the 1927 Alfred Hitchcock classic, 'The Lodger' -- this piece was loosely based on the 1913 novel written by Marie Belloc Lowndes. (7) To follow on from my previous fact, you might like to know that there are currently five versions of this tale cast onto celluloid, and two of those five are remakes. (8) After this movie made a mess on the carpet, Jack Palance starred in the historical drama, 'Sign of the Pagan'; Frances Bavier starred in the television series, 'City Detectives'; and Rhys Williams starred in the romance, 'Bad for Each Other'. (9) For any more Ripper related information please click on over to our pals at The Jack The Ripper Tour.

Man In The Attic Starring Jack Palance and Constance Smith

Overall I'd say 'Man in the Attic' was an above average film that could have been a lot better than it ultimately was. It was well-acted. The story was fairly well told. The production values were good for its time. And the only thing that let it down was its historical inaccuracies and it's American-ways.

Hmmm. Nuff said.