Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boston Strangler (1968)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Hurd Hatfield, Murray Hamilton, Sally Kellerman, William Marshall, William Hickey

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Why did 13 women willingly open their doors to the Boston Strangler?

Plot: Boston is being terrorized by a series of seemingly random murders of women. Based on the true story, the film follows the investigators path through several leads before introducing the Strangler as a character. It is seen almost exclusively from the point of view of the investigators who have very few clues to build a case upon.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Man, I don't know.

Going into this I had very vague memories of the actual crimes I read about so many years ago. The first half of the picture deals with the crimes and the hunt for the killer. The second half (which is when Curtis shows up) is largely about trying to get inside the mind of DeSalvo. The first hour is a home run for police procedural fans. It's very well constructed and it features one of the best (if not THE best) uses of split screen.

Once DeSalvo is arrested (for attempted robbery) and is under questioning, it's a completely different film and much slower. It's now a character study on just one man and it's not a particularly fascinating one at that. It's too bad, too. While I admire the film maker's attempt at doing something different, the second half takes the piss out of the first. Curtis does a fine job but the amount of time it takes for him to realize what he did pulls the picture down. After watching the picture I did a little reading up on the case and, as I suspected, A LOT was changed for the film and the true account is far more interesting than the movie. But I sure loved the hell out of the first hour. It was highly engaging.

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