Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

62 or 66-67 mins | Drama | 16 August 1940

Director:

Boris Ingster

Writer:

Frank Partos

Producer:

Lee Marcus

Cinematographer:

Nicholas Musuraca

Editor:

Harry Marker

Production Designer:

Van Nest Polglase

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

This picture marked writer Boris Ingster's directorial debut. Modern sources comment on the film's innovative use of low key lighting and credit Nathanael West with writing the final version of the ... More Less

This picture marked writer Boris Ingster's directorial debut. Modern sources comment on the film's innovative use of low key lighting and credit Nathanael West with writing the final version of the screenplay. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
3 Sep 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
5 Sep 40
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Sep 40
p. 40.
New York Times
2 Sep 40
p. 19.
Variety
4 Sep 40
p. 18.
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 August 1940
Production Date:
completed 3 July 1940
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 August 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9935
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
62 or 66-67
Length(in feet):
5,740
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6407
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Reporter Michael Ward sends Joe Briggs to the electric chair by testifying that he saw the unfortunate Briggs fleeing the scene of a murder. Shaken by the verdict and by his fiancée Jane's intuition about Briggs's innocence, Michael returns to his room, where he begins to brood about the events that led up to Briggs's arrest. Lost in his thoughts, Michael recalls his meeting with Meng, his loathsome neighbor, when he notices a sinister stranger in the hallway and chases him from the rooming house. After returning to his room, Michael detects that Meng's snoring has ceased, and begins to fantasize that his neighbor has been murdered and that he will be convicted of the crime on circumstantial evidence. Michael's paranoia continues in his dreams, and he awakens to find that his nightmare has come true and that Meng's throat has been slit. Jane convinces Michael to report the murder to the police, who find Michael's presence at the scene of both murders suspicious and arrest him. Realizing that the only way to prove Michael's innocence is to find the stranger, Jane begins to search for the man. She finds him feeding a stray dog and learns that he has escaped from an insane asylum. Thinking that Jane has come to take him back, the stranger begins to chase her across the street but is hit by an oncoming truck before he can harm her. Before dying, the stranger confesses to the murders, thus exonerating both Michael and Briggs of the ... +


Reporter Michael Ward sends Joe Briggs to the electric chair by testifying that he saw the unfortunate Briggs fleeing the scene of a murder. Shaken by the verdict and by his fiancée Jane's intuition about Briggs's innocence, Michael returns to his room, where he begins to brood about the events that led up to Briggs's arrest. Lost in his thoughts, Michael recalls his meeting with Meng, his loathsome neighbor, when he notices a sinister stranger in the hallway and chases him from the rooming house. After returning to his room, Michael detects that Meng's snoring has ceased, and begins to fantasize that his neighbor has been murdered and that he will be convicted of the crime on circumstantial evidence. Michael's paranoia continues in his dreams, and he awakens to find that his nightmare has come true and that Meng's throat has been slit. Jane convinces Michael to report the murder to the police, who find Michael's presence at the scene of both murders suspicious and arrest him. Realizing that the only way to prove Michael's innocence is to find the stranger, Jane begins to search for the man. She finds him feeding a stray dog and learns that he has escaped from an insane asylum. Thinking that Jane has come to take him back, the stranger begins to chase her across the street but is hit by an oncoming truck before he can harm her. Before dying, the stranger confesses to the murders, thus exonerating both Michael and Briggs of the crimes. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.