Stranger on the Third Floor 1940

Stranger on the Third Floor

Critics Consensus

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86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 7

65%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 876

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Movie Info

When upstart journalist Michael Ward (John McGuire) testifies that he saw Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook Jr.) at the scene of a murder, Briggs is jailed and sentenced to death. Later, Michael's conscience and troubling dreams get the better of him. He tells his girlfriend, Jane (Margaret Tallichet), that he isn't certain Briggs is guilty. They begin to investigate, but unfortunately, the couple soon makes the acquaintance of an ominous, enigmatic man (Peter Lorre) who wants the case to stay closed.

Cast & Crew

Peter Lorre
The Stranger
John McGuire
Michael "Mike" Ward
Charles Waldron
District Attorney
Alec Craig
Briggs' Defense Attorney
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Critic Reviews for Stranger on the Third Floor

All Critics (7) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Stranger on the Third Floor

  • Apr 24, 2010
    In "Stranger on the Third Floor," Michael Ward(John McGuire), a reporter, is the chief witness for the prosection in the murder trial of Joe Briggs(Elisha Cook Jr.), a drifter. During the trial, Michael's fiancee Jane(Margaret Tallichet) comes by to lend moral support. After Briggs is convicted of first degree murder and is likely to be sentenced to death, Michael starts to have second thoughts, especially after this strange dude(Peter Lorre) puts in an appearance. "Stranger on the Third Floor" is a dark little number with a very cool nightmare sequence. The movie is about how often appearances can be deceiving while taking a shot at the strict moral code of the time and this is an important lesson for Michael if he is to be a success at his chosen profession. However, the movie wraps a little too neatly and quickly, as more could have been done with the premise.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 13, 2008
    so it's a bit contrived and the lead actress is quite bad but this highly stylized film is considered the first noir with good reason: stunning art direction, especially the remarkable dream sequence, and great expressionist cinematography by nicolas musuraca. makes a powerful anti-death penalty statement as well
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 08, 2008
    A good little B-movie about a journalist whose eyewitness testimony convicts a potentially innocent man of murder. The journalist himself then becomes a victim of circumstantial evidence after his despised neighbour is murdered. The plot is contrived and overuses both flashback and voice-over, but there's an excellent expressionist dream sequence in the middle. John McGuire makes a dull hero but Peter Lorre walks away with the movie with his 10 minute contribution.
    Stephen M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 01, 2007
    In some circles, the first film noir movie. The story is nothing special as Maguire plays a reporter who made the big time because of a mistaken identity murder which he later becomes involved in. There are some greatly-lit scenes which became a staple in film noir, but that dream sequence is worth it alone. Peter Lorre is as freakish as ever and Elisha Cook, jr. plays the classic sap perfectly. The story's a little uneven, but if you're a film noir fan Stranger on the Third Floor is a must.
    Michael G Super Reviewer

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