Movie and plot overview
In 1888 Jack the Ripper took to the streets and murdered women in the London borough of Whitechapel. When a mysterious man named Mr. Slade comes to Helen and William Harley’s house to rent rooms, they discover that Slade is a very strange man. However, he is a respected pathologist and researcher in a large hospital. Besides, the Ripper is always out of the house every time he strikes, and he fits the only known description of the killer. She convinces Mrs. Hurley thinks Slade’s the Ripper, but with the growing tension all over town, all the suspects…
Filmman in the Attic Room Vitae
Below is a brief description of the spoilers.
The Man in the Attic appears in 1888 in London very late on the third night of the murder of Jack the Ripper, when a pathologist named Slade (Jack Palance) arrives at the house of William and Helen Harley (Rhys Williams and Francis Bevier). He wants to rent a room there on a friend’s recommendation. Next to the bedroom he rents his attic to continue his research.
When she agreed to let Mr. Slade rent the rooms, Mrs. Slade… Hurley struck by the man’s strange ways. He immediately turns all the pictures of the actresses in his room face to the wall so that he can’t feel their gaze on him. He also mentions that he usually goes to work late at night, but he never explains what work is.
Even Hurley’s niece, Lily Bonner (Constance Smith), lives in the house. She is a beautiful actress and singer who has just returned from Paris where she has a successful stage production.
On the night of Lily’s London premiere, Slade leaves the house to perform his usual mysterious experiments in the coat and the little black Ulster bag. Annie Rowley (Lillian Bond), a former colleague of Lily’s, who visited her backstage during a difficult period. But as soon as she leaves, Jack the Ripper will kill her. She asks Detective Warwick (Byron Palmer), who is investigating the murders, to visit Lily. He told her the suspect was seen with the Ulster coat and a small black bag.
The next morning, when Warwick goes back to Lily to ask her some questions, Slade introduces himself and expresses his different views on the Ripper. He thinks the police will never catch him. But Mrs. Hurley’s suspicion of Mr. Slade is aroused when she burns something in her attic room. Clary convinced himself that Slade was the killer when she found out he burned her black bag. Mr. Hurley disagrees and says Mr. Slade is just smart because every man in town with a black bag is now being prosecuted and charged with murder.
Meanwhile, Lily has developed a pretty strong attraction to Slade, and the feeling is mutual. As the two get closer, he opens up and tells her that her mother was also an actress. Unfortunately, despite the fact that she was beautiful, she was so angry that he both loved and hated her. She was also such an adulteress that her father became an alcoholic when she left him. She spent the last years of her life on earth as a prostitute and died on the streets of Whitechapel. Slade also shows Lily a picture of her, which he keeps in an office in his room.
Inspector Warwick shows up to take Lily to the Black Museum. Slade decided to join them, to Warwick’s sorrow, as he was looking forward to spending some time with the young woman. In the museum, Slade makes many comments and mocks the terrible character of the exhibits. He stops being particularly interested when he encounters five photographs on the wall of Ripper victims. He’s going to tell Warwick the police will never catch The Ripper.
That same night, the Ripper killed another woman. Then we go to Slade, who’s washing his hands in the river. Later that night, Harley’s dog makes a loud wail that wakes Lily up. She goes downstairs and finds Slade burning various clothes, including his Ulster coat… and this coat seems to be stained with blood. Slade shrugs his shoulders as the solution of one of his experiments, and because it is dangerous, he has to destroy his coat.
Meanwhile, Inspector Warwick is both jealous and suspicious of Slade. He goes to the university hospital where Slade claims to work to check his references. The man who works there tells him that Slade really is part of the team and that he is a respectable worker with an investigation that she comes very late.
That night at Harley’s, Lily asks Slade to meet him backstage, which he’s happy to accept. After Slade left for the evening, a detective showed up to see if the print on Slade’s right thumb matched the print on the Ripper’s left hand at the scene of one of his crimes.
He asks Mr. Hollis to help him search Slade’s room, where he finds a picture of Slade’s mother in his desk drawer. Lily catches him red-handed and then yells at Warwick to stop beating up an innocent man. Back in the museum’s office, when Warwick tries to compare his fingerprints, his assistant notices that the photo of Slade’s mother matches the photo of the Ripper’s first victim, Anne Lawrence. His picture is one of the five that caught Slade’s attention the day before.
While two cops are connected to the murders, Slade is at the theater to see the play. But when he sees all those lascivious looks on the faces of the men in the room when they see Lily dancing, something clicks in him. When he goes to her backstage, he tells her that he hates other men who look at her like that. He’s demanding that she walk away with him somewhere… …somewhere.
If she says no, he takes the knife out of her pocket and starts cutting her throat. Lucky for Lily, he can’t go through with it. He threw a knife and ran out the window while the inspector and other policemen opened the door. They’re chasing Slade all through the streets of Whitechapel, but he manages to avoid them.
It goes down to the river and falls below the surface. Warwick and the other officers jump after him, but they find nothing. Whether he lived that night or drowned, no one can say for sure. But one thing is clear – Slade was right – the police never caught Jack the Ripper.
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