STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR (1940) B/W 64m dir: Boris Ingster

w/Peter Lorre, John McGuire, Margaret Tallichet, Charles Waldron, Elisha Cook Jr., Charles Halton, Ethel Griffies, Cliff Clark, Oscar O'Shea, Alec Craig

A reporter is convinced a condemned man is innocent of murder, especially when the same pattern of criminal behavior reoccurs.

From The Movie Guide: "This extremely weird B movie has been hailed as the first true film noir, and it certainly has all the noir elements, both visual and thematic. ...

"First-time director Boris Ingster, cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, and art director Van Nest Polglase created a frightening, claustrophobic, and nightmarish urban environment ruled by indifference, injustice, and moral corruption. The forces of order (the police, district attorney, juries, judges, and institutions) are the true villains here as they quickly and carelessly dispense judgement [sic] on citizens. Lorre's killer is obviously mad (an escaped mental patient), but in his brief screen time he is seen to be a sympathetic victim of harsh and thoughtless treatment (he describes being held in a straight-jacket and doused with ice water). Ingster's direction shows the heavy influence of the Germanic expressionist films of the 1920s and the film is a visual delight. He never again directed anything nearly as interesting or influential as this nearly forgotten B picture."