10 Rillington Place (1971)

GP | 109 or 111 mins | Biography, Drama | May 1971

Full page view
HISTORY

The opening credits are preceded by the written statement: "This is a true story. Whenever possible the dialogue has been based on official documents." The film ends with the still image of Richard Attenborough's face, as "John Reginald Christie," with the following titles superimposed over it: "Christie confessed his crimes and was hanged at Pentonville Prison. Twelve years later Timothy John Evans was pardoned, his body exhumed and reburied in consecrated ground." As noted onscreen, the film was shot at Rillington Place and at the Lee International Studios and Shepperton Studios in London. In addition, press notes state that many scenes were shot on location in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London. The NYT review mistakenly lists the film's running time as 139 minutes and LAT as 119 minutes.
       As noted in historical sources, Christie (1898--1953) was abused as a child and later in life reportedly suffered from sexual dysfunction and experienced sexual pleasure from raping women and then strangling them. The film closely mirrors real-life events. After already having murdered several women, in 1949 Christie took on Timothy John Evans and his wife Beryl as tenants at his home at 10 Rillington Place, London. Soon after, Beryl gave birth to their daughter Geraldine. Christie raped and murdered Beryl under the pretense of helping her abort her second pregnancy, then blamed the murder on Evans, who was sentenced to hang on 9 Mar 1950. After Evans was executed, Christie killed four more women, including his wife. After he left 10 Rillington Place, the bodies of his victims were discovered buried throughout the property, and Christie was found guilty of killing his wife. He was ... More Less

The opening credits are preceded by the written statement: "This is a true story. Whenever possible the dialogue has been based on official documents." The film ends with the still image of Richard Attenborough's face, as "John Reginald Christie," with the following titles superimposed over it: "Christie confessed his crimes and was hanged at Pentonville Prison. Twelve years later Timothy John Evans was pardoned, his body exhumed and reburied in consecrated ground." As noted onscreen, the film was shot at Rillington Place and at the Lee International Studios and Shepperton Studios in London. In addition, press notes state that many scenes were shot on location in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London. The NYT review mistakenly lists the film's running time as 139 minutes and LAT as 119 minutes.
       As noted in historical sources, Christie (1898--1953) was abused as a child and later in life reportedly suffered from sexual dysfunction and experienced sexual pleasure from raping women and then strangling them. The film closely mirrors real-life events. After already having murdered several women, in 1949 Christie took on Timothy John Evans and his wife Beryl as tenants at his home at 10 Rillington Place, London. Soon after, Beryl gave birth to their daughter Geraldine. Christie raped and murdered Beryl under the pretense of helping her abort her second pregnancy, then blamed the murder on Evans, who was sentenced to hang on 9 Mar 1950. After Evans was executed, Christie killed four more women, including his wife. After he left 10 Rillington Place, the bodies of his victims were discovered buried throughout the property, and Christie was found guilty of killing his wife. He was hanged in 1953.
       Some facts from the real-life case, and details from the best-selling novel based on Christie's life, were not included in the film. Some reviews pointed out that Evans’ limited mental capabilities were not depicted, nor was the fact that the trial disallowed evidence that Beryl had been raped after her death as well as the workmen's testimony that the bodies were not hidden in the washhouse while they were there working. In addition, the film suggests that Evans was convicted of several murders while, in fact, he was convicted only of Geraldine’s murder.
       Although Christie never confessed to the killings of Beryl or Geraldine, and no definitive evidence exists to his guilt, the public presumed him culpable, and his conviction years after Evans’ death spurred an outcry against capital punishment in Great Britain. In 1961 journalist Ludovic Kennedy wrote Ten Rillington Place , a biography of Christie, as a plea for reform. According to contemporary sources, the case and Kennedy's book contributed to the 1964 decision to abolish capital punishment in Britain. Evans was granted his posthumous pardon in 1966.
       In Jun 1962, as noted in HR , producers Elliott Kastner and Stan Shpetner bought the film rights to Kennedy's novel. In Mar 1968, Shpetner’s Forest Park Productions announced in DV that they would team with William Dozier’s Greenway Productions and CBS Films to produce the film version of the book. They hoped to star James Mason and Dirk Bogarde, with Joseph Losey directing. Dozier would serve as executive producer and Shpetner as producer. DV noted on 22 Aug 1968 that the producers had signed Sean Graham to write the screenplay.
       By Mar 1970, however, FD stated that Filmways would produce 10 Rillington Place as a Columbia release. Although Columbia’s European production chief, John Van Eyssen, and Filmways head Martin Ransohoff announced in a Mar 1970 HR news item that Basil Appleby would serve as executive producer, he is listed onscreen as associate producer. Director Richard Fleischer stated in a Jun 1970 HCN article that he had wanted to make the picture for years, but was prohibited by a British law requiring fifty years to pass before a real-life murder could be shown onscreen. The law, however, was changed to thirty years shortly before the production began.
       Press notes and contemporary articles reported that the film renewed interest in the case and in the location of Rillington Place, by then renamed Ruston Close. A Jun 1970 HCN article described the area as “like a vacation resort,” frequented by tourist buses and squatters. The press notes indicate that because filming could not take place at the actual building, most scenes were shot at the house next door. In 1970, the street was demolished and rebuilt as Bartle Road.
       Press notes state that the production hired as technical advisors Albert Pierrepoint, the man who hanged Evans and Christie; police constable Ledger, the man who arrested Christie; and John Nutting, a London criminal lawyer. Although Filmfacts includes Bernard Lee in the cast as "Chief Inspector," according to the BFI index, this role was cut from the finished film.
       Despite receiving excellent reviews for his portrayal of Christie, Attenborough stated in press notes that he disliked playing the role and accepted it only because the film was such a devastating statement against capital punishment. The Sunday Times (London) review stated that British response to the film was bound to be painful, as “the memory of the execution of poor trapped Evans is still too fresh.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 May 1971
p. 76.
Box Office
26 May 1971.
---
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1968.
---
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1968.
---
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1971.
---
Film Daily
11 Mar 1970.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 278-80.
Hollywood Citizen-News
3 Jun 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 1962.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1970
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 1970
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1970
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 1971
p. 3, 10.
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1971.
---
Motion Picture Herald
16 Jun 1971.
---
New York Times
13 May 1971
p. 52.
New York Times
16 May 1971
p. 1.
New Yorker
22 May 1971.
---
The Sunday Times (London)
31 Jan 1971.
---
Variety
8 Apr 1970.
---
Variety
10 Feb 1971
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Martin Ransohoff-Leslie Linder Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Lighting equipment
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const mgr
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd ed
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Police liaison
Tech adv
Tech adv of arrest scenes
Tech supv of courtroom scenes
Casting
Prod secy
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Ten Rillington Place by Ludovic Kennedy (London, 1961).
SONGS
"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," music and lyrics by Thomas P. Westendorf.
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1971
Premiere Information:
London opening: 28 January 1971
New York opening: 12 May 1971
Los Angeles opening: 28 May 1971
Production Date:
mid May--early July 1970 at Lee International Studios, London and at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England
Copyright Claimant:
Genesis Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
28 January 1971
Copyright Number:
LF78
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastmancolor processed by Rank Film Laboratories
Duration(in mins):
109 or 111
MPAA Rating:
GP
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In London in 1944, soft-spoken John Reginald Christie, the landlord of 10 Rillington Place, invites his neighbor, Muriel Eady, into his flat. After assuring Muriel that he has a medical background, he promises to cure her bronchitis with a “medicine” of vapors she breathes in through a mask. Soon, he adds carbon monoxide to the mix, and when she attempts to break away, he forces the mask onto her face until she passes out, after which he rapes and strangles her. Later, he buries the body in the garden along with his previous victims. Five years later, Timothy John Evans, his wife Beryl and daughter Geraldine rent the upstairs flat from Christie. Tim, who is illiterate, frequently lies to impress his friends, inventing a wealthy relative and insisting that he has multiple lovers. Taking an instant interest in Beryl, Christie subtly urges them to rent the apartment, despite Beryl’s misgivings. Soon, Christie is visiting Beryl after Tim leaves for work, offering her tea and mentioning that he was in the police force during the war, doing medical consulting. When Tim returns home one night, Christie informs him that he owes six weeks’ payment for his furniture. Blaming Beryl for not paying, Tim promises he will soon be promoted to manager, then goes upstairs to chastise his wife. Stating that she cannot cover all the bills with his meager pay, Beryl announces she is pregnant. Upset by the news, Tim is further horrified to hear that Beryl is taking pills that she hopes will abort the baby. Furious, Tim fights loudly with Beryl, and as Geraldine begins crying, he storms out to the local pub. Later, he returns home drunk ... +


In London in 1944, soft-spoken John Reginald Christie, the landlord of 10 Rillington Place, invites his neighbor, Muriel Eady, into his flat. After assuring Muriel that he has a medical background, he promises to cure her bronchitis with a “medicine” of vapors she breathes in through a mask. Soon, he adds carbon monoxide to the mix, and when she attempts to break away, he forces the mask onto her face until she passes out, after which he rapes and strangles her. Later, he buries the body in the garden along with his previous victims. Five years later, Timothy John Evans, his wife Beryl and daughter Geraldine rent the upstairs flat from Christie. Tim, who is illiterate, frequently lies to impress his friends, inventing a wealthy relative and insisting that he has multiple lovers. Taking an instant interest in Beryl, Christie subtly urges them to rent the apartment, despite Beryl’s misgivings. Soon, Christie is visiting Beryl after Tim leaves for work, offering her tea and mentioning that he was in the police force during the war, doing medical consulting. When Tim returns home one night, Christie informs him that he owes six weeks’ payment for his furniture. Blaming Beryl for not paying, Tim promises he will soon be promoted to manager, then goes upstairs to chastise his wife. Stating that she cannot cover all the bills with his meager pay, Beryl announces she is pregnant. Upset by the news, Tim is further horrified to hear that Beryl is taking pills that she hopes will abort the baby. Furious, Tim fights loudly with Beryl, and as Geraldine begins crying, he storms out to the local pub. Later, he returns home drunk and slaps Beryl. The ensuing fight attracts the attention of Christie, who advises Beryl to see a doctor and warns them both to stop fighting. The next day, Beryl visits Christie to apologize, and after informing him about the pregnancy, asks for his help. Christie suggests a doctor he knows she cannot afford, then finally, as if coerced, offers to do the “termination” himself. Following Christie's advice to obtain Tim’s permission, Beryl picks up Tim from work and takes him to a movie and the pub. There, she tells him about the procedure. Disgusted, he promises to make more money, but when she cries, he gives in. The next morning, Tim gives his consent to Christie, who shows Tim a “doctor’s book” to prove his medical background, knowing Tim cannot read the words. When Tim asks how the procedure is performed, Christie replies that it must remain secret, and warns him that one in ten patients can die. Seeing Tim waver, Christie feigns offense, prompting Tim to assure him he trusts him. After sending his wife Ethel out to pay bills, Christie heads upstairs, but is interrupted by the arrival of two workmen who have come to repair the outdoor washhouse. Despite the men’s clatter downstairs, Beryl invites Christie into her kitchen. As he sets up, he reassures her about the procedure, then lovingly applies the mask to her face. Soon, she realizes something is wrong and struggles, so he punches her until she falls unconscious. He then rapes and strangles her. Just then, Beryl’s friend Alice arrives, but finding the door locked, she leaves. Later, when Tim comes home, Christie informs him the operation did not succeed, and showing Tim Beryl’s body on the bed, states that he had to secure her arms to keep her from struggling, after which she concussed her head. Tim, helpless in his grief, believes Christie’s claims that Beryl’s blood had been poisoned by the pills she was taking. When the landlord then refuses to call the police, stating that he would be accused of manslaughter and Tim of being an accessory to the crime, Tim agrees to keep silent. Christie offers to bury Beryl, and when Tim grows hysterical, Christie declares that he will deny any involvement and Tim will be hanged for murder. Confronting Tim about the lies he tells about his family, Christie confuses him further, until he agrees to do whatever Christie says. Christie directs Tim to go away, during which time he will dispose of the body down the manhole out front, tell people the couple went on holiday together and send Geraldine to Acton to be looked after. Later, after Tim has left, Christie strangles Geraldine. Not knowing his daughter has also been murdered, Tim visits his aunt and uncle in Wales, telling them that Beryl and Geraldine went to Brighton to visit her father. While Christie tells his wife that Tim killed the baby, and hides both Beryl’s and Geraldine’s bodies in the washhouse wall, Tim’s aunt and uncle learn from Beryl’s father that she has not been in touch with him. Trapped and bewildered, Tim goes to the local police, declaring that he is turning himself in for disposing of his wife’s body. He states to the police that Beryl died from pills she hoped would abort her baby, and finding her dead body, he buried her in the manhole in a panic. When the London police explore the manhole, however, they find nothing, and Tim is questioned again. This time, Tim reveals the true story, blaming Christie for the crime. But Christie has planted newspaper clippings of past murders in Tim's nightstand, and cleverly suggests to the police that the Evanses had a discontented, violent relationship. Searching the house, the police find the bodies in the washhouse. They bring Tim back to London, where he is shocked and anguished to learn of Geraldine’s death. In a daze, he agrees to the confession written by the policemen, stating he killed his wife and child while the Christies were away. At the trial, Tim reverts back to his accusation of Christie, but the landlord maintains that Tim is lying about his involvement. Tim is stunned to hear Christie lie on the witness stand about everything he previously told the Evanses about his medical background. Despite the defense’s charge that Christie has multiple previous sentences for robbery and violence, the prosecution counters with Christie’s admirable war record, impressing the jury. Tim is called as a witness, but his inarticulate defense cannot save him from the prosecution’s emphasis on his signed confession. In jail, Tim begs his aunt to bring Christie in to talk with him face to face, but with no ally, Tim is sentenced to hang. As the verdict is read, Christie breaks down in tears. Although Tim continues to insist that he is innocent and Christie guilty, stating that he confessed only because he had nothing left to live for, the death sentence is soon signed. When Tim is hanged, Christie suffers crippling back spasms, and unlocking his medicine cabinet, sees the rope he used to strangle Beryl. That night, after Ethel intimates that she knows he murdered Beryl, Christie kills her and hides the body under the floorboards. Over the next few years, he continues luring other women with the same ruse about being a doctor. Unable to work because of his back pain, he sells the house and moves into a shelter, where he is reduced to bragging about his involvement in Tim’s case. As new tenants move into 10 Rillington Place, they notice a false wall, and soon uncover some of the murdered bodies. The police set up a search for Christie, and one day while he is loitering by the wharf, a policeman recognizes him. Almost as if he has been waiting, Christie meekly submits to his arrest. Later, Christie confesses to killing Ethel and is hanged. Twelve years later, Tim is posthumously pardoned, exhumed and buried in consecrated ground. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.