When Timothy Evans (John Hurt), and his wife Beryl (Judy Geeson), move into 10 Rillington Place with their young daughter, they have no idea of the horror that awaits them. For at the same address lives John Reginald Christie (Richard Attenborough), a man with a dark secret that will soon engulf Evans and his family in tragedy.
When this film was released, and when the book by Ludovic Kennedy this was based on was published, it was received as a condemnation of the death penalty inspired by Timothy Evans (superbly played by John Hurt) being wrongly hanged for the murder of his wife. That was my initial response to the film. Many years later I found the foul depravity, the dismal viciousness of John Christie, as portrayed in Richard Attenborough's astonishing performance had swallowed the film whole. His oppressive hypnotic psychosis was nearly all I could see. Fleischer created an awful world for Christie to operate in, a phlegmy, yellowy world in which this spider caught, murdered and raped his ignorant, innocent victims. Fleischer seems to indict the poverty and lack of education that allowed Christie to thrive in the darkness. A stunning, repulsive performance by Attenborough, and a film that seems to have gained in status as the years have passed.