Boston, 1962. Several elderly women are strangled, apparently by the same unknown assailant. An investigation ensues, but clues lead nowhere. Then the strangler starts to attack younger women. John Bottomly (Henry Fonda) is assigned to direct a more intense investigation, interviewing even the remotest suspects. Meanwhile, the murders continue. Dianne Cluny (Sally Kellerman) survives an attack but remembers only that she bit her attacker's hand. When Albert DeSalvo (Tony Curtis) is caught breaking into an apartment, his mental capabilities are questioned. He goes to the hospital for observation, and there someone notices a bite mark on his hand...
Director Richard Fleischer forgoes his usual flexible but unobtrusive style in THE BOSTON STRANGLER. Shooting in Cinemascope, he makes flamboyant use of the wide screen--splitting it to show multiple images and multiple action as the police pursue leads and hunt for suspects. As a suspect recounts events in a long interrogation sequence, Fleischer imaginatively shows the suspect and his interrogator in flashbacks. With a fine and uncharacteristic performance by Curtis and vivid appearances by Hurd Hatfield and William Hickey, THE BOSTON STRANGLER is a fine addition to Fleischer's series of movies based on real-life murders, following THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING and COMPULSION.
THE BOSTON STRANGLER chronicles the investigation of the famous real-life murder case that haunted the citizens of Boston. Using an unusual split-screen technique, the film follows two detectives as they track the man who raped and killed thirteen women in the early 1960s.
Serial Killers |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: Octoder 16, 1968.
Filmed in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Robert Fryer, the producer of THE BOSTON STRANGLER, was a good friend of Terence Rattigan, the respected English playwright whose best known works are THE WINSLOW BOY, THE DEEP BLUE SEA, and THE BROWNING VERSION. Fryer asked Rattigan to write the script of THE BOSTON STRANGLER. Director Richard Fleischer says that when he and Fryer received Rattigan's first 40 pages they "were appalled...[it] bore little relationship to the book. Worse still, and most puzzling, it was written as a comedy." Rattigan was removed from the picture, and replaced by Edward Anhalt.
John S. Bottomly (played by Henry Fonda) and Philip Di Natale (played by George Kennedy) were technical advisers on THE BOSTON STRANGLER.