When I first heard about this movie, I thought, “Oh dear. This sounds a bit too creepy.” A movie by Hitchcock about a serial killer? Count me out.
But then I actually saw the movie and was surprised to find that I liked it. If I feared that the film would give me nightmares, I’m glad to say that those fears were completely unfounded.
The movie is about a serial killer in London who rapes women and strangles them with neckties. We see early on who the actual murderer is and that one of his friends is being set up as a fall guy, based on circumstantial evidence.
Part of the reason this movie works so well is Hitchcock’s amazing use of cinematography. There is a particularly creepy and suspenseful sequence, in which the fall guy’s (unsuspecting) girlfriend climbs upstairs with the murderer and enters his apartment. The door closes and the camera pulls back, going down the stairs and out into the street. And as we watch the hustle and bustle of activity outside, what’s happening inside is left to our imagination. What we can imagine is far more frightening than anything today’s modern special-effects can produce in graphic detail.
Another great thing about this film is the way the plot twists keep you on the edge of your seat. Not only is the fall guy falsely accused and arrested, but the killer discovers that he left a clue on one of his victims (that girlfriend I mentioned). So not only does the fall guy have to escape imprisonment, but having figured out that his own friend has set him up, he must find a way to exonerate himself and get his revenge. Meanwhile, the killer ends up hiding in the back of a truck full of potatoes, scrambling through the bags for the body he buried there, in order to find the clue that could be his undoing.
The suspense in this movie is so high it’s agonizing. More agonizing even than the serial killings themselves. And the story holds that suspense right up until the very end. As usual, Hitchcock weaves moments of levity into the plot. Including the very end, when the detective investigating the case confronts the killer and tells him, “Mr. Rusk, you’re not wearing your tie.”
And here’s the trailer. Witness the Master of Suspense at his morbid funniest!
One thing’s for sure. I’ll never be able to hear the expression “Bob’s your uncle” again without thinking about this movie!
I give this one two thumbs up! 🙂