10 Rillington Place Poster

10 Rillington Place (1971)

Biography | Drama   
IMDB Rayting:   7.6/10
Country: UK
Language: English

Based on the real life case of the British serial killer John Christie, and what happened to his neighbors Tim and Beryl Evans.

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thurberdrawing 1 June 2004

I saw this in a theatre here in the United States in 1971, when I was eleven years old. I'd seen Richard Attenborough as the circus master in DOCTOR DOLITTLE and I wonder if I'd sold my mother on taking me to this one because I knew the name Richard Attenborough. In any case, this movie burned itself into my brain immediately and, for the next three decades I told many of my fellow American film-buffs that there was this British movie no American had ever heard about that was more blood-curdling than PSYCHO. I suspect the obviously limited release of this movie in the United States had something to do with the fact that one of its chief selling-points was that it was based on a murder not well-known to Americans. The Christie murders were famous in Britain, and, in fact, historic because of their effect on the elimination of the UK's death penalty. But the distributors in America had to market this on its qualities as a thriller. Attenborough had yet to make his name a household word here, GHANDI being about ten years in the future and the probable difficulty with accents couldn't have made people who did see it very eager to recommend it. On top of this, the movie is not a thriller but a truly disturbing exploration of evil. It makes the roughly contemporary FRENZY look like a sitcom. Movies became more realistic in the late sixties and early seventies than they have been before or since. 10 RILLINGTON PLACE may be the most realistic movie about a serial killer ever made. It may not be the scariest, but it's the most memorable. I haven't forgotten it, and I haven't seen it in more than a generation. It is a mournful movie for serious viewing.

garyoverman 5 February 2002

This British thriller is one of the best films I have ever seen. It tells the story of John Christie, the serial killer whose "career" lasted from the middle 1940's until the early 1950's. The name is taken from the scene of the murders; 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London.

Chillingly portrayed by the great actor Richard Attenborough , Christie was a little mouse of a man who first lured his victims home on some pretext or other, usually by saying that he could perform some desired medical procedure on them, for example, an abortion, which was illegal at the time. Once there, he put them at ease by offering them a cup of tea, deceived them into breathing gas from the pipe, rendering them unconscious, then strangled them. He disposed of the bodies, at first by burying them in the garden, then putting them under the sink in the water closet, and finally by tearing up and replacing floorboards and papering over cupboards.

The primary reasons that Christie was able to do what he did for so long were first of all the war. London was undergoing the blitz, and people had a tendency to disappear during the bombing. Another reason was that he was able to turn the suspicions of the police from him to a not very bright truck driver named Timothy Evans, (played by John Hurt) who was convicted of the death of his baby daughter, and was also suspected in the murder of his wife, but due to English law could only be tried for one or the other of them. He was hanged in 1950. The scene in the film where Evans is hanged is chilling, and quite accurate.

Slow at first and shot on location at the actual scene of the murders, the film shows a dangerous manipulative killer hiding behind a bland, mild exterior. Because he appeared so mild, Christie was all the more terrifying. Attenborough brings this out expertly and the overall effect is very creepy.

This superbly-acted film is British cinema at its' very best.

Cup of tea, anyone?

drj-12 13 July 2000

10 Rillington Place is more than a classic film. It is frequently referred to whenever the call for the death penalty is made in Britain. The notorious miscarriage of justice i.e the hanging of Timothy Evans, an immature half-wit, for the murder of his wife and child when it is almost universally accepted that they perished at the hands of John "Reg" Christie, is one which will always haunt the British legal system. When Christie was found guilty and hanged as a serial killer of women, the body of Evans was exhumed and reburied in consecrated ground but this did nothing to hide the embarrassment of those who supported the death penalty.

The film itself is a dark and brooding masterpiece which depicts life in post-war London perfectly. The grim, dirty, rain-washed Rillington Place in Notting Hill was a seedy side-street which housed the poor but largely respectable families which had survived the blitz. John Christie had moved down from the North to find work in the capital but ill-health and a penchant for petty crime prevented him from being successful.

Richard Attenborough plays the downtrodden but curiously arrogant Christie to perfection. His voice almost a whisper as he lauds it over London's underclasses. In fact Christie was not a landlord, as many believe, he was merely a tenant who fancied himself to be a landlord and acted accordingly. He also dreamed of being a doctor, with devastating consequences. His treatment of the poor, subnormal Evans (John Hurt) and his beautiful but foolish young wife, Beryl, (Judy Geeson) was centred around their desire for an abortion - illegal in the UK until the late 1960s.

John Hurt is very good as the hapless Evans although his Welsh accent needed refining. His look of wide eyed horror and disbelief is a sight to behold. Geeson pouts and whinges and looks gorgeous: the kind of wife any man would desire and yet the kind destined to irritate intensely.

The key to appreciating 10 Rillington Place is to have some idea of its setting in British history. To wander in clueless will result in disappointment. There is no gore or x-rated content of any kind and its slow pace will infuriate many. Yet, as a snapshot of an England now gone and a reminder of the folly of capital punishment it is a timeless classic worthy of many viewings.

uds3 6 October 2002

The zenith of British film making, 10 RILLINGTON PLACE (the location since re-named) is a true story. John Christie (who last time I was there was still a star exhibit at Madame Tussaud's waxworks museum in London) was the mega-ordinary, almost mousy south east Londoner who besides liking a good cuppa tea...killed people in his dingy little residence. Somewhat of a sexual predator (though this is hinted at, rather than depicted) Christie used his very basic scientific knowledge to offer "comfort" to such as pregnant young girls by way of his own in-house abortion that none actually survived. The case of young and fully dim-witted Timothy Evans (so brilliantly played by John Hurt) who comes to lodge and whose pretty young wife (Geeson) becomes another victim of the serial killer Christie represented the height of British injustice when Christie himself was able to manipulate the facts to point the finger of guilt at Evans himself and who was actually hanged for the murder of his wife and child. (The later-bestowed pardon would have been of little consequence I feel....the ultimate "too liitle too late")

The film's bleak depiction of immediate post-war Britain is just stunning, Attenborough deserved the Oscar for his amazing characterisation of Christie...a monster with a facade no-one thought to question. No clear-thinking and perceptive person could possibly watch this movie and not be affected in some way. The horror Is that there IS no horror, just a veneer of respectability and decency. I cannot offhand, nominate a more powerful or credible piece of film-making. We have this film in our library and watch it on average ever two years - it has never aged or been less impactful!

mike65-2 20 March 2008

Slow, deliberate, creepy, grimy, grim, repressed.

The recreation of one of Britains most famous serial killers crimes and the impact on one family in particular is nothing if not sober in tone.

Director Richard Fleischer had recent "true crime" form with his version of The Boston Strangler 1968, Fleischer shoots with hand-held cameras under realistically dim lighting, creating an intimate close up portrait of the house and its occupants.

As such the performances have to match, and do. Richard Attenboroughs in particular. His portrayal of Christie will come as a shock to those who only know him from the Jurassic Park series or Miracle on 34th Street. John Hurt and Judy Geeson as the young, ill-educated Evans couple do well though Hurts accent is a little wayward early on.

The_Void 23 June 2005

There's a whole host of films from the great decade that was the seventies that have gone on to not get the praise that they so rightly deserve, and if one were to make a list of those films; 10 Rillington Place would feature in a prominent position. The film follows the true story of serial killer John Christie, who murdered a series of women in the late forties. His modus operandi is to murder his victims with gas, shortly before having sex with the corpse. Despite this shocking premise, the film always sees fit to focus more on the reality of the situation than the actual murders themselves. Despite not being graphic, this actually makes the film more shocking as we are constantly reminded of the things that go on behind what people allow us to know about ourselves. The murderer in this story is just a normal man. A nice man, in fact. People trust him, and even respect him; yet despite all this, the man is a stone cold killer. The realistic way that the story is approached, combined with the fact that these are real events ensures that 10 Rillington Place is a morbidly fascinating watch.

Richard Attenborough takes the lead role and does fantastically well with it. His calm mannerisms and nonthreatening demeanour clash well with the underlying evil of his character and we really can believe that this man is a maniac. The film was made in the United Kingdom, I'm proud to say, and this is obvious throughout. UK films have a certain atmosphere about them, and although I didn't know that this movie was homegrown before watching it; it soon became apparent. This style bodes well with the theme of the film, as it's downtrodden and makes sure that the film is firmly planted in the land in which the story took place. The idea of an innocent man not only going down, but being killed, for a crime he did not commit is shocking and the cold way that it is presented in this film reflects the fact that it actually happened and also gives it more of a degree of shock. On the whole, 10 Rillington Place is a film that shouldn't be missed by anyone. It's not all that well known, but this is unfair considering the quality of it and I wont hesitate to recommend this movie to people in the future.

dbdumonteil 23 March 2005

Three years after "the Boston strangler" ,Richard Fleischer brilliantly succeeds in transferring to the screen a horrible true story.The two movies do not look like each other though."Boston strangler" was spectacular,making the best use of the split screen I've ever seen."10 RP" is an austere bleak work ,all the more disturbing than its style is bald.Richard Attenborough(an extraordinary performance,on a par with Peter Lorre's"M") portrays one of those serial killers in the first half of last century.Two good examples :Landru ,whose character Charlie Chaplin used in "Monsieur Verdoux " and Claude Chabrol in his eponymous movie,or "Doctor Petiot" who was doing on a small scale (killing Jews to despoil them) what the Nazis were doing on a large one. Christie ,Landru and Petiot are close relatives.They seem harmless,mediocre little men .Not the serial killer we meet in today's thrillers.And Christie is given the adequate treatment by his director:the poor house,the crummy flats ,the pubs ,the no-future of an uneducated generation (Fleischer lays stress on the fact that Tim cannot read and write ).This illiteracy is partly responsible for Tim's unfair revolting fate.

Fleischer's style is plain;the trial scenes,when any director would have his actors overact is a lesson a lot of the current artists should pay attention to.The hanging could not be spookier.One cannot help but think that the last lines about Tim on the screen are a bit ironical.

Matching Attenborough's awesome portrayal,is John Hurt's remarkable Tim:definitely not Gregory Peck as his wife thinks,macho but pitiful,a not very handsome whining lad who cannot hold a candle to his maleficent owner.

You should see "the Boston strangler" and "10 Rillington place" one after the other

Mikew3001 13 September 2002

This British 1970's drama tells the life of the real London strangler John Reginald Christie, a doctor and landlord who killed several of his female patients in the 1940's and 1950's. Richard Attenborough plays Christie in a rather silent, but very menacing and psychological way. Director Richard Fleischer is not portraying a serial killer monster like Hannibal Lector, but rather a boring and nice guy who turning to a mentally disturbed and brutal serial killer.

The atmosphere in the dirty London suburbs is photographed in a very dark and intense way, as most of the scenes take place in Christie's old back street house. The calm music adds much atmosphere to the movie, and young John Hurt plays the husband of one of the victims. A forgotten genre jewel that is worth being discovered again, as it cannot be compared to many of those stylish current serial killer TV and movie productions.

dougdoepke 11 July 2010

No need to repeat consensus points already made. Instead, I'll try to touch on noteworthy aspects generally unmentioned.

The movie's not only a reflection on the death penalty, but on anti-abortion laws, as well. Those desperate women wouldn't have been driven into the clutches of the lunatic Cristie were abortion licensed and legal. That may not have stopped his madness, but he would have had to come up with a different ploy.

The movie focuses on one particular episode (the Evans killings) rather than the series of killings that actually covered a considerable time period. So, cooped up in the city, Cristie ends up hiding his many victims where he can (in the garden, in the washroom, in the walls). What surprises me is that no one, least of all, the wife, notices what must have been an atrocious smell.

Note the dispatch with which Evans is hanged, unlike the more ritualized American way. I assume the movie is an accurate depiction. He walks into an ordinary room, the hood is placed over his head, and plop, the trapdoor opens. And it takes just about that long. The suddenness really startled me.

Contrast two ends of the serial killer spectrum—the shy, unattractive Cristie and the charming, handsome Ted Bundy of 1970's America. Understandably, Bundy had no trouble luring girls to their doom; judging from the movie, however, Cristie's victims must have been truly desperate to let that little creep lay hands on them.

Not mentioned in the movie, but in one of the books that I recall, is that Cristie kept swatches of pubic hair as trophies.

Like any good document on serial killers, the film presents a glimpse of lives and social levels that otherwise go unnoticed. Here we get a sense of a decaying part of London and the dreary lives hanging on there. A good movie or book is like a knife slicing through a cake, exposing layers that otherwise remain hidden. That's the particular strength of this film.

My only reservation is the casting of Judy Geeson as Evans' wife. She seems too pretty and smart to be hooked up with a dead-ender like Evans. Still and all, Geeson's performance is excellent— note her subtle expressions on first meeting the creepy Cristie. Nonetheless, I suspect her casting was the one concession the producers made to commercial appeal.

All in all, it's a grim, ugly film-- as it should be. We may not get much sense of why Cristie has taken the warped, monstrous turn he has. But then such dark matters may be beyond us, anyway. Above all, the movie should not be viewed in a depressed state or if you're looking for a room to rent.

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