10 Rillington Place
|10 Rillington Place|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Fleischer|
|Produced by||Basil Appleby
|Screenplay by||Clive Exton|
|Based on||Ten Rillington Place
by Ludovic Kennedy
|Music by||John Dankworth|
|Edited by||Ernest Walter|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||12 May 1971 (USA)|
|Running time||111 min|
10 Rillington Place is a 1971 British crime drama film, directed by Richard Fleischer. It stars Richard Attenborough, John Hurt and Judy Geeson and was adapted by Clive Exton from the book Ten Rillington Place by Ludovic Kennedy.
The film dramatises the case of British serial killer John Christie, who committed many of his crimes in the titular London terraced house, and the miscarriage of justice involving his neighbour Timothy Evans. Hurt received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Evans.
In 1949, Timothy and Beryl Evans move into 10 Rillington Place, London, with their infant daughter Geraldine. Their downstairs neighbour, John Christie, convinces them that he can help Beryl terminate her unwanted pregnancy; he then strangles and rapes Beryl. He tells Evans that she had died accidentally and that Evans should leave town so that people don't realise she's missing. Evans entrusts Christie with his daughter, whom Christie then murders as well.
Police neglect to search the property thoroughly and miss the bones of Christie's earlier victims visible in the garden. As a result of a false confession Evans, who is of limited intelligence and illiterate, is tried for their murders (specifically, his daughter), found guilty and executed in 1950. Christie goes on to murder his own wife and three prostitutes at the house before his crimes are detected. On-screen text reveals that he was hanged in July 1953.
The film relies on the same argument advanced by Kennedy in his book that Evans was innocent of the murders and was framed by Christie. That argument was accepted by the Crown and Evans was officially pardoned by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins in 1966. The case is one of the first major miscarriages of justice known to have occurred in the immediate postwar period.
- Richard Attenborough as John Reginald Christie
- Judy Geeson as Beryl Evans
- John Hurt as Timothy John Evans
- Pat Heywood as Ethel Christie
- Isobel Black as Alice
- Phyllis MacMahon as Muriel Eady
- Ray Barron as Workman Willis
- Douglas Blackwell as Workman Jones
- Gabrielle Daye as Mrs. Lynch
- Jimmy Gardner as Mr. Lynch
- Edward Evans as Detective Inspector
- Tenniel Evans as Detective Sergeant
- David Jackson as Constable
- George Lee as Police Constable
- Richard Coleman as Police Constable who arrests Christie
- André Morell as Judge Lewis
- Robert Hardy as Malcolm Morris
- Geoffrey Chater as Christmas Humphreys
- Basil Dignam as Member of the Medical Board
- Sam Kydd as Furniture Dealer
- Rudolph Walker as West Indian man
- Reg Lye as Tramp
In 1954, the year after Christie's execution, Rillington Place in Notting Hill, west London was renamed Ruston Close, but number 10 continued to be occupied. The three families living there in 1970 refused to move out for the shooting of the film, so filming was moved to the empty number 7. The house and street were demolished later, and the area has changed beyond all recognition. Filming also took place at Merthyr Vale railway station; Merthyr Vale was Timothy Evans's hometown and where he made his confession to the police. The pub scenes were filmed at the Victoria Hotel on Burdett Road in east London. The pub was subsequently demolished as part of the re-development of the area in 1972–73.
Richard Attenborough, who played Christie in the film, spoke of his reluctance to accept the role: "I do not like playing the part, but I accepted it at once without seeing the script. I have never felt so totally involved in any part as this. It is a most devastating statement on capital punishment". The film was produced by Leslie Linder and Martin Ransohoff. Hangman Albert Pierrepoint, who had hanged both Evans and Christie, served as an uncredited technical advisor on the film to ensure the authenticity of the hanging scene.
At the time of the film's release, reviews were mixed. Variety's critic wrote "Richard Fleischer has turned out an authenticated documentary-feature which is an absorbing and disturbing picture. But the film has the serious flaw of not even attempting to probe the reasons that turned a man into a monstrous pervert." Praise went to John Hurt for his "remarkably subtle and fascinating performance as the bewildered young man who plays into the hands of both the murderer and the police." Vincent Canby of The New York Times described 10 Rillington Place as "a solemn, earnest polemic of a movie, one with very little vulgar suspense ... The problem with the film is very much the problem with the actual case, which involved small, unimaginative people."
The film has since risen in stature with critics. In a 2009 review, J. Hoberman wrote, "More highly regarded these days than when it was released in 1971, Richard Fleischer's 10 Rillington Place is a grimly efficient treatment of a once-notorious case". The same year, Keith Uhlich of Time Out gave the film a 5-star review and described it as an "underseen gem".
In an interview with Robert K. Elder in his book The Best Film You've Never Seen, director Sean Durkin states that 10 Rillington Place "depicts this story the way that a piece of journalism might, as opposed to worrying about preconceived notions of what a film should achieve." Tom Hardy of the British Film Institute has noted Attenborough's ability at "getting into the flesh of the paranoid and the distressed", describing the film as a "detailed account of life under the shadow of World War II [which] is powerful and compelling".
- Variety film review; 10 February 1971.
- Barber, Sian (22 January 2013). The British Film Industry in the 1970s: Capital, Culture and Creativity. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-137-30592-3.
- "Christie's ghost returns" (subscription required), The Times (57872), 18 May 1970: 5, retrieved 18 April 2009.
- Russell, William B. (2009). Teaching Social Issues with Film. IAP. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-60752-117-4.
- "10 Rillington Place". TCM. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- "10 Rillington Place Review". Variety. 31 December 1970.
- Canby, Vincent (13 May 1971). "10 Rillington Place Review". The New York Times.
- Hoberman, J (24 June 2009). "10 Rillington Coolly Documents the Case of an Infamous Lady Killer". The Village Voice.
- Uhlich, Keith (25 June 2009). "10 Rillington Place". Time Out.
- Elder, Robert K. (1 June 2013). The Best Film You've Never Seen: 35 Directors Champion the Forgotten Or Critically Savaged Movies They Love. Chicago Review Press. p. 247. ISBN 978-1-61374-929-6.
- Hardy, Phil (1997). The BFI Companion to Crime. University of California Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-520-21538-2.