Stranger on the Third Floor Reviews
While this is sometimes touted as the first Film Noir, I would say this is a progenitor of the genre. The streets are dim echoes of fritz Lang's M (which also starred Lorre) in which an all night search miraculously uncovers a psychotic - who doesn't scream "Hilfe!" in this film. And a few scenes show a strong influence of German Expressionist cinema - not quite the archetypal American Noir yet. While Lorre does an excellent job once more, it's a shame he took so long to break out of this stereotype. A shame he was ever locked into a stereotype as Lorre was a great character actor who could do everything... except dance.
This film introduces most of the elements of the film noir genre including the an inner city street setting (mostly at night), the use of light and shadows, diagonal lines and camera angles, voiceovers and flashbacks, a dream sequence, winding staircases, and a relatable wrongly accused man that create a spellbinding crime thriller.
Although he doesn't speak a line until more than one hour into the film, Peter Lorre is his typical creepy self and provides the most memorable acting in the film.
This film makes a mockery of the criminal justice system with a serio-comic bent, which is a departure from most film noir stories; specifically shots of he judge and jury sleeping during the trial, the introduction of prior convictions into evidence, and the defendant taking the stand in his defense.