Jack the Ripper (1959 film)

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Jack the Ripper
Directed by Monty Berman
Robert S. Baker
Screenplay by Peter Hammond
Monty Berman
Starring Lee Patterson
Eddie Byrne
Betty McDowall
John Le Mesurier
Ewen Solon
Music by Stanley Black (UK)
Jimmy McHugh (US)
Pete Rugolo (US)
Cinematography Robert S. Baker
Monty Berman
Edited by Peter Bezencenet
Distributed by Regal Film Distributors (UK)
Embassy Pictures (through Paramount Pictures) (US)
Release date
  • 28 May 1959 (1959-05-28) (UK)
  • 17 February 1960 (1960-02-17) (US)
Running time
84 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £50,000[1]
Box office $1.1 million (US)[2]

Jack the Ripper is a 1959 film produced and directed by Monty Berman and Robert S. Baker, and is loosely based on Leonard Matters' theory that Jack the Ripper was an avenging doctor.[3] The black-and-white film starred Lee Patterson and Eddie Byrne and co-starred Betty McDowall, John Le Mesurier, and Ewen Solon.[4] It was released in England in 1959, and shown in the U.S. in 1960. [5]

The film borrowed icons from previously successful horror films, such as Dracula (1958) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), by giving the Ripper a costume of a top hat and cape. [6] The plot is a standard "whodunit" with the usual false leads and a denouement in which the least likely character, in this case "Sir David Rogers" played by Ewen Solon, is revealed as the culprit.[7] As in Matters' book, The Mystery of Jack the Ripper, Solon's character murders prostitutes to avenge the death of his son. However, Matters used the ploy of the son dying from venereal disease, while the film has him committing suicide on learning his lover is a prostitute.[8]


In 1888, Jack the Ripper is on his killing spree. Scotland Yard Inspector O'Neill (Byrne) welcomes a visit from his old friend, New York City detective Sam Lowry (Patterson), who agrees to assist with the investigation. Sam becomes attracted to modern woman Anne Ford (McDowall) but her guardian, Dr. Tranter (Le Mesurier), doesn't approve. The police slowly close in on the killer as the public becomes more alarmed. The killer's identity is revealed and he meets a ghastly end.



The film's budget was raised from a combination of pre-sales to Regal Film Distributors at the National Film Finance Corporation.[1]


Joseph E. Levine bought the US rights for £50,000. He later claimed he spent $1 million on promoting the movie and earned $2 million in profit on it.[1]

According to Variety, the film earned rentals of $1.1 million in North America on initial release.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The New York Times wrote, "the most memorable line of dialogue in Jack the Ripper is read, appropriately enough, at an inquest. In the stentorian tones typical of the new Victorian melodrama, the coroner declaims that the London police are "incompetent, inadequate and inept." He may have aimed his verdict at the law enforcers, but visitors to neighborhood theatres this week are likely to give his words a broader interpretation. That coroner would have made a good film critic." [9]


  1. ^ a b c John Hamilton, The British Independent Horror Film 1951-70 Hemlock Books 2013 p 56-61
  2. ^ a b "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  3. ^ Meikle, Denis (2002). Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Richmond, Surrey: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-32-3, pp. 75-79. Woods, Paul; Baddeley, Gavin (2009). Saucy Jack: The Elusive Ripper. Hersham, Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-3410-5, p. 198.
  4. ^ "Jack the Ripper (1958)". BFI. 
  5. ^ Woods and Baddeley, p. 197
  6. ^ Woods and Baddeley, p. 197
  7. ^ Meikle, pp. 76–77
  8. ^ Meikle, p. 79
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9803E0D61138E333A2575BC1A9649C946191D6CF

External links[edit]