Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Out of his element: Lee Patterson 
JACK THE RIPPER (1959). Directors: Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman.

London. 1888. Jack the Ripper is stalking the west end, asking women if she is "Mary Clarke," and then bloodily dispatching them a moment later. Scotland Yard's Inspector O'Neill (Eddie Byrne) is on the case, but he welcomes the help of an old friend and American policeman named Sam Lowry (Lee Patterson). Lowry begins romancing Anne Ford (Betty McDowall), the ward of the surgeon Dr. Tranter (John Le Mesurier). Other characters include Dr. Urquhart (Garard Green); Sir David Rogers (Ewen Solon), the governor of the hospital; Louie (Endre Muller), a scarred mute who works at the hospital; Kitty (Barbara Burke), a former prostitute whose fiance killed himself when he learned of her past; and Hazel (Jane Taylor) a dance hall girl who doesn't realize that she's expected to fulfill certain other duties. Jack the Ripper has an excellent script by Jimmy Sangster, and while heavily fictionalized, it emerges as one of the better movies about the Ripper. Lee Patterson as the American cop acts as jauntily as if he just stepped out of an episode of Surfside 6, and is almost completely out of place in the film. The others are more on the mark, with especially nice work from Solon [The Hound of the Baskervilles] and Burke. The movie seems to have cheap TV production values for the most part, with much fog filling up the sound stage, but it nevertheless has atmosphere, as well as a suspenseful finale with an effectively gruesome coda (which briefly goes to color in some prints).

Verdict: Doesn't quite have the polish or production values of a Hammer film, but not bad at all. ***.


angelman66 said...

Will check this one out, Bill. I have always been fascinated with the Jack the Ripper of my favorite films inspired by the Ripper was just on recently, Time After Time fromt he late 1970s with the wonderful David Warner as the Ripper and Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells.

William said...

I saw that in theaters years ago. I believe it was based on a novel but I can't recall the author. An interesting movie that I want to see again.

Amazing that the Ripper fascinates after all these years, even after some people slaim to have "solved" the murders. One book suggests the killer was artist Walter Sickert, who dabbled in the macabre, but I was not convinced.