This gripping real-life story is one of most underrated police procedurals around, not to mention an interesting precursor to modern-day fictional serial-killer tales like The Silence of the Lambs and Seven. The Boston Strangler remains potent even by modern standards because it hits the right balance between showing the gruesome details and leaving things to the viewer's imagination. Using intriguing multi-panel split-screen effects, director Richard Fleischer effectively conveys how terror grips the people of Boston as the killer stalks his prey and gradually shows more of the killer's gruesome deeds as the tension builds. Fleischer also gets stellar performances out of a top-flight cast: Henry Fonda's upright, all-American persona brings instant credibility to his detective character, and familiar character actors like George Kennedy and Murray Hamilton add convincing supporting performances as his colleagues. However, the movie really belongs to Tony Curtis for his portrayal of the title character. Even though he doesn't appear until the film is almost half over, Curtis' skillful portrayal of a man who can't fathom the monstrous side of his own mind is as heartbreaking as it is frightening. It is a testament to the quality of his performance that the filmmakers allow the third act to hinge upon his ability to convey the character's personality disorder. All in all, The Boston Strangler is a powerful portrayal of the serial killer mindset and worthy of rediscovery by true crime buffs.
by Donald Guarisco review