Stranger on the Third Floor (RKO 1940, Peter Lorre, John McGuire)

Stranger on the Third Floor

Stranger on the Third Floor is considered by some movie historians to be the first film noir for its atmospheric, Expressionist sets and its anxious story of brutal crimes and guilt. When reporter McGuire’s testimony convicts an innocent man for murder, he’s haunted by regrets. His guilt seems to attract trouble in the form of a lurking stranger (Peter Lorre) and the murder of his neighbor, a murder for which McGuire gets blamed. Ingster’s directorial debut.

Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca’s use of low key lighting in Stranger on the Third Floor became a signature style for many other cameramen at RKO. It was this that prompted the label “Film Noir” by French film critics.

Peter Lorre as The Stranger
John McGuire as Michael ‘Mike’ Ward
Margaret Tallichet as Jane
Charles Waldron as District Attorney
Elisha Cook Jr. as Joe Briggs
Charles Halton as Albert Meng
Ethel Griffies as Mrs. Kane, Michael’s Landlady
Cliff Clark as Martin
Oscar O’Shea as The Judge
Alec Craig as Briggs’ Defense Attorney
Otto Hoffman as Charles Evans, the Police Surgeon

crew details
Director: Boris Ingster
Screenplay: Frank Partos

production details
Country: USA
Studio: RKO
Year of Release: 1940
Duration: 64 minutes

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