Stranger on the Third Floor - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Stranger on the Third Floor Reviews

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½ May 18, 2016
Classic example of a psychological noir, really dated but with magnificent cinematography.
July 19, 2015
Peter Lorre at his creepiest
June 23, 2015
Stranger on a Train is an excellent film. It is about an aspiring reporter who is the key witness at the murder trial of a young man. Peter Lorre and John McGuire give incredible performances. The script is well written. Boris Ingster did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and mystery. Stranger on the Third Floor is a must see.
June 6, 2015
Stylish and tight little crime thriller where the testimony from a reporter, John McGuire, puts away Elisha Cook Jr. but the reporter second guesses whether Cook is really innocent and he and his girlfriend discover the real killer is the wonderfully creepy Peter Lorre. The potboiler elements of the story aren't that much of a standout, but Lorre's performance makes this film an absolute must see. He's not the haunted child killer he played in "M" but is more of a mentally ill man who doesn't really know what he's doing. The other standout for the film is the stylish direction by Boris Ingster, who's a director who's never really been on my radar, but after looking at his IMDB page, he only ever directed three films and spent most of his career writing and producing low budget film and as a series producer on "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." Ingster is not Wells or Lang, but he did provide the film some nice noir slashes of shadow and light. However, I may be giving credit to Ingster when it may be due director of photography Nicholas Musuraca , who also photographed the incredibly stylish "Out of the Past" and "Cat People." Regardless, the film looks great and Lorre is terrific, even if he isn't in the film all that much.
November 3, 2014
Often considered the first 'Film Noir' this 65 minute B movie routinely eclipses its formulaic plot and timid finale with a striking expressionist style. Its use of shadows and lighting conjures memories of Dr Caligari while its deeply cynical, paranoid tone grounds the film in a stark reality of normalised injustice. A surreal dream sequence remains impressive 75 years later and Peter Lorre's small role is memorable and unnerving.
½ September 13, 2014
This weird, pulpy little movie is sometimes considered the first film noir, and I love it. Its story is straightforward and melodramatic, but memorable, and done with considerable style, especially for a lower-budget movie. There are no fewer than three, maybe four flashbacks, as well as a highly stylized dream sequence straight out of German Expressionism. There's paranoia, murder, dramatic court scenes, sexual frustration, and Peter Lorre in full creep mode. What else could you want? It's great. I highly recommend it.
June 4, 2014
Ok ... nice dream scenes
November 17, 2013
While the movie as a whole is ordinary, the cinematography is excellent and the dream sequence impressive.
July 9, 2013
A pretty good "B" movie starring John McGuire as a reporter who begins to doubt whether the testimony he gave convicted an innocent man of murder. He later observes a stranger, played by Peter Lorre, leaving his neighbor's apartment - hence the film's title - and after experiencing a strange dream sequence, discovers the neighbor dead in a fashion similar to the first murder. He is falsely accused of committing the crime when he reports it to the police.

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.
June 3, 2013
The only thing standing in the way of a "miscarriage of justice" (a down-and-out, unhandsome young man being executed for a murder he didn't commit) is the bad/guilty conscience/luck of a good-looking, upwardly-mobile, young professional (cum-amateur detective) couple. (I don't know if this film originates the formula, but it certainly expresses it concisely/patly.) A liberal film, then, with a pathetic "solution" to a real problem.
April 14, 2013
'Stranger on the Third Floor' probably wouldn't be remembered outside of its recognition as the first film noir, but on its own it is a stylishly entertaining little B-film nightmare with an outstandingly creepy appearance by Peter Lorre. Clocking in at just over an hour, the picture doesn't overstay its welcome; if anything, the story could have used a little more fleshing out in order to bring its themes of guilt and responsibility to a more palpable level. John McGuire plays Mike Ward, a newspaper reporter who sends a man to death row in order to knock out a big headline and earn a promotion. He seems certain at first, but as the days tick on he begins to wonder if he has framed the wrong man, and he decides to do a little investigation on his own in order to set his conscience at ease. Margaret Tallichet plays Ward's grilfriend, a source of purity and justice who soon becomes the precious stakes in the middle of Ward's case and the killer. There isn't really anything new in this film that wasn't done brilliantly before- by Fritz Lang in his films of the thirties- but this RKO milestone should not be dismissed. It's meeting of aesthetic expressionism and hard-boiled American crime story was revolutionary in Hollywood, and its psychological suggestions probed at a darkness just beneath the surface of a country on the edge of war.
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2013
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
November 4, 2012
A powerful film noir masterpiece!
November 1, 2012
lorre delivers the goods here
½ October 10, 2012
Though hampered by pedantic voice-over and melodramatic acting, the cinematography alone is gorgeous enough to merit a viewing. The dream sequence is perhaps one of the finest I've ever seen and John McGuire gives a performance eerily close to Kyle MacLauchlan's "Agent Cooper".
September 23, 2012
Made on a very low budget, this short little movie is very often called the first true noir. It has a distinctly gloomy atmosphere, disturbingly nightmarish dream sequence, and claustrophobic cinematography. Peter Lorre shows his creepy charm once again. Although the story is simple, it has its moments of ambiguity.
August 9, 2012
Early Noir that helps to define the genres guilt, paranoia and pessimistic tradition. Lorre is creepy as ever and for some of its stagey faults and restrained ending, the suggested violence is quite shocking. It is however the inventive use of voice-over and visual design that mark this out as a film that ought to be seen.
February 22, 2012
Startling 'B' movie, with some okay acting all round and some stunning visuals considering the low budget - particularly the long dream sequence. The subvocal speech/subconscious narration is also inspired - and Peter Lorre's demented though sympathetic killer is sinister perfection. A rewarding film.
½ October 30, 2011
Hailed as the first "true" film noir, Stranger on the Third Floor contains many of the familiar elements of the noir style (atmospheric lighting, morally twisted protagonists, crime) but it still retains elements of earlier, lighter Hollywood fare, refusing to let its main character succumb to some darker aspects of his personality, and focusing less on the criminal side of the story than on the sense of guilt McGuire feels after helping convict a potentially innocent cabbie for murder.

The highlights here are a fantastic dream sequence, where the most obvious noir elements shine through (brilliantly atmospheric lighting as well as some truly frightening imagery), and Peter Lorre's delightfully deranged performance as the titular Stranger. It's kind of a shame that McGuire is front and center, since Lorre was one of the great character actors and his performance here begs for more screen time. Still, Stranger on the Third Floor is a lot of fun, showing the early signs of what would become known as film noir.
½ October 4, 2011
Magnificent film of noir cinema with the great Peter Lorre
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