The Boston Strangler (1968)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The Boston Strangler adopts the split-screen technique then in vogue (see also The Thomas Crown Affair) to relate the true story of self-confessed mass murderer Albert DeSalvo. Adapted by Edward Anhalt from the book by Gerold Frank, the film covers the years 1962 to 1964, during which time a dozen women were raped and murdered in the Boston area. State-appointed officer John Bottomly (Henry Fonda) arrests as many known sex offenders as he can get his hands on in hopes of finding a clue as to the Boston Strangler's identity. As these things often happen, the police come across the necessary evidence through pure luck. Well-played by Tony Curtis (whose makeup is startling), DeSalvo himself does not appear until an hour into the film. When caught, the schizophrenic DeSalvo insists that he knows nothing of the murders. Under interrogation and hypnosis, his homicidal impulses are exposed. Meticulously cast, The Boston Strangler offers excellent vignettes by Sally Kellerman as the Strangler's only surviving victim and by Hurd Hatfield as an erudite sex pervert. When Boston Strangler was first shown on TV in 1974, a voice-over coda was added, noting that Albert DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison on November 26, 1973, and that many experts were convinced that he was not the killer but that his confessions were the product of a delusional mind. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox Film Corp.


Tony Curtis
as Albert DeSalvo
Henry Fonda
as John S. Bottomly
George Kennedy
as Det. Phil DiNatale
Mike Kellin
as Julian Soshnick
Hurd Hatfield
as Terence Huntley
Murray Hamilton
as Frank McAfee
Jeff Corey
as John Asgeirsson
Sally Kellerman
as Dianne Cluny
William Marshall
as Edward W. Brooke
George Voskovec
as Peter Hurkos
Leora Dana
as Mary Bottomly
Carolyn Conwell
as Irmgard DeSalvo
Austin Willis
as Dr. Nagy
Lara Lindsay
as Bobbie Eden
George Furth
as Lyonel Brumley
William Hickey
as Eugene T. Rourke
Eve Collyer
as Ellen Ridgeway
Gwyda DonHowe
as Alice Oakville
Alex Dreier
as News Commentator
John Cameron Swayze
as TV Commentator
Shelley Burton
as David Parker
Elizabeth Baur
as Harriet Fordin
William Traylor
as Arnie Carr
Dana Elcar
as Louis Schubert
Carole Shelley
as Dana Banks
James Brolin
as Sgt. Lisi
George Tyne
as Dr. Kramer
Karen Huston
as Pat Bruner
Almira Sessions
as Emma Hodak
Arthur Hanson
as Commissioner
Walter Klavun
as Chief of Police
Tim Herbert
as Cedric
Janis Young
as Louise Parker
George Fisher
as Mr. Taylor
Greg Benedict
as Dick Matheson
Tom Aldredge
as Harold Lacey
Nancie Phillips
as Barbara Wise
Marie Thomas
as Gloria
David Lewis
as Judge Schroeder
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Boston Strangler

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (1)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

An intriguing and underrated film with a great deal to say.

Full Review… | August 19, 2013
Eye for Film

An excellent movie, Curtis' best role ever as the tortured Albert DeSalvo. the documentary-style suits the film perfectly. wonderfully underplayed and suspenseful from beginning to end.

August 8, 2007
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Audience Reviews for The Boston Strangler

Classic psychological thriller with horror elements, The Boston Strangler which is based on the true story is a thoroughly engaging, and shocking picture that is brilliantly acted and directed. The film boasts a strong sense of atmosphere, which adds a depth to the film that really makes it that much more disturbing. The acting here is terrific, and the direction makes for a truly memorable picture, one that is sure to unsettle its viewers. What makes this film truly shocking is the fact that the events portrayed on-screen really happened, and films like this that uses true stories such as the Boston Strangler are more disturbing than any fictional character because the horror here is real, and it Makes for an even more compelling and engrossing picture. Mixing different genres, this is a classic picture that recounts a truly shocking murder case, and it is one of the finest in the genre. If you enjoy these types of movies, then The Boston Strangler is a must watch. The direction is immaculate and the pace of the film steadily builds up, and in turn, you're sucked even more into its story. Real life events make for more interesting film subjects because they actually happened, and they have a gripping nature that fiction simply can't pull off. This one delivers a unique, shocking and unforgettable film going experience. With top notch performances, intense murder sequences, and a great story to grab your attention, The Boston Strangler is a highly memorable and engaging thriller horror drama that should be seen for its memorable kills sequences, riveting performances and terrific direction. If you want a riveting, well constructed picture, then The Boston Strangler is a worthy film to watch, especially if you films of this nature.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


A crime thriller based on a true story. It's fascinating visually, using screen techniques and flashbacks that look great even by today's standards. The movie starts to get a bit uneven and dated in the final act, but up to that point, it's captivating.

Gabriel Knight
Gabriel Knight

A captivating and absorbing screen treatment of Gerold Frank's best-selling account of the infamous Boston murders of 11 women allegedly committed by a schizophrenic plumber named Albert De Salvo, played by Tony Curtis in startling and convincing dynamic performance as the deranged De Salvo and Henry Fonda in a fine creditable performance as John S. Bottomly the man in charge of the investigation into the serial killings, directed skillfully by Richard Fleischer in a documentary-style detailing of the brutal killings, manhunt and prosecution of this notorious killer. The film also has a unique complex multi-image technique that is very effective. Outstanding supporting performances by George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Hurd Hatfield, Murray Hamilton, Jeff Corey, Sally Kellerman, William Marshall and William Hickey. Dramatically intense, unrelentingly disturbing as it is meant to be. Recommended.

Danny Rovira
Danny Rovira

Super Reviewer

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