(1971)4Mike CummingsThis is the story of the ordinary man next door who is not what he appears to be. Richard Attenborough portrays that archetypal character in this adaptation of Ludovic Kennedy's book 10 Rillington Place, the true story of landlord John Reginald Christie, a serial killer. In real life, the Christie murders led to the abolition of the death penalty in Britain after executioners hanged an innocent man, Timothy Evans, for one of the murders. This production focuses on events surrounding that landmark case. Director Richard Fleischer filmed the motion picture in the drab London neighborhood where Christie killed his victims and disposed of them in a garden, under the floorboards of his flat, and in a kitchen alcove. Attenborough plays Christie as he was: quiet, meek, seemingly innocuous. Balding, with inscrutable eyes staring out of spectacles, Attenborough's Christie hints subtly that a twisted mind is at work beneath a veneer of ordinariness. However, the gullible tenants upstairs -- Evans (John Hurt) and his pregnant wife, Beryl (Judy Geeson), who have financial problems and a whining infant -- do not see through Christie when he offers to abort Beryl's unborn baby, claiming he has the medical know-how. After they accept his offer, Christie rapes and kills Beryl, then frames Evans for the murder. Unlike Tora! Tora! Tora!, director Fleisher's blockbuster film the year before, 10 Rillington Place is a small production of limited scope and action. But it does have three things in common with the previous film: meticulous attention to historical details, excellent acting by the entire cast, and a gradual buildup of suspense. The production, therefore, deserves high marks both as a docudrama and as an artistic achievement.