A Hollywood production portraying the real-life murderous rampage of the serial killer dubbed The Boston Strangler.
Great casting with Tony Curtis playing against type as the homicidal lead (and he does a great job- check out the chilling final scene. Henry Fonda and Murray Hamilton play detectives on the case.
This looks great as a film with beautiful cinematography. The use of split screen and an almost mosaic style works very well indeed.
There’s a great sequence where the police chief says that he wants every pervert to be questioned (he lists examples starting with ‘toilet queens’ which made me giggle). One locale we see a suspect being questioned is a 60’s gay bar. This doesn’t pull any punches with societal attitudes towards homosexuality being played out. The police detective says he’s ‘slumming it’ by being in a gay bar when asked by his suspect if he was there to satisfy his curiosity. But then he quickly apologises. This almost sympathetic view towards gay people must have been shocking to audiences back then.
This was also a very early Hollywood film about a real life serial killer. This film was very brave for examining this very gritty fare. Society was changing with a darker cloud rolling in after the summer of love and this encroaching darkness was now seeping into Hollywood cinema.
The first part of the film depicts the murders, the policemen who are trying to catch him and how women were responding to this new threat to their safety (locks, guns and dogs sold very well during this period). The first part of the film ends with De Salvo being captured.
The second part of the film changes pace as De Salvo is interrogated by Fonda’s character with sequences in which the killer appears in the setting he’s being questioned about but with Fonda there also as he asks the questions. It’s a great idea that places both Fonda, De Salvo and the audience at the actual scene of the crimes.
One of the best true crime films about a real-life serial killer.
4 stars out of 5