Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
10 Rillington Place
Cleveland Press June 22, 1971
"10 Rillington Place" is a true crime drama and while truth may be stranger than fiction it also can be harder to make interesting.
The picture is often intriguing, more often downbeat. I suppose the makers should be praised for not capitalizing on the sensational aspects of a fairly sordid story, but there are times when Richard Fleischer's direction is merely plodding rather than restrained.
What fascination the movie has is in excellent performances by Richard Attenborough and John Hurt.
THE STORY is about Attenborough, a mild appearing sort of man who lures women into his home and kills them. He is a folksy type, fixes a cup of tea, sympathizes over their ailments, spouts a little pseudo-medical jargon, knocks them out with a whiff of gas, strangles them and buries them in the back yard.
Into the sundown tenement (the camera dwells on the place, making it as important as the people) comes a young couple (Judy Geeson and John Hurt) and their baby. The young man is illiterate, a boaster and pathological liar.
The young woman becomes pregnant, wants an abortion and Attenborough passes himself off as enough of a doctor to do the job.
He is careful to get the husband's prior consent and when he kills the woman convinces the young man to keep quiet by making it clear to him that he is an accessory.
THE MAN flees, has a change of heart and confesses the crime, then accuses the older man. The young man's contradictory stories lead to his conviction and execution.
It isn't until several years and several bodies later that the older man is apprehended and he confesses to a series of crimes.
Without Attenborough the picture wouldn't amount to much. A fine actor who seems to get stuck in a series of mediocre pictures, he remains capable of suggesting nuances that make the characters he plays always interesting.