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The Brighton Strangler (1945)

A nice little B movie, with an unusual premise. Matinee idol John Loder, worn ragged after a long run in a leading role ('I'm so tired of strangling people, three hundred nights in a row'), is knocked out by falling debris during an air raid and wakes up under the impression that he is the homicidal maniac he has been playing. He heads for Brighton, locale of the play, and spends the Christmas holiday working through the plot by strangling the Mayor and the Chief of Police, then sets his sights on the WAF heroine (June Duprez), whom he corners in an eerie hotel roof garden. Though shot in Hollywood, this makes effective use of blitzed Britain as a setting for psychological terror, with all the stalking scenes complicated by the blackout or falling bombs. Loder is a wonderfully theatrical maniac, demanding that the police applaud as they close in on him, and enjoying his deliberately melodramatic speeches. It's the type of film in which an obvious murderer is able to lure his victim to a clifftop because 'I have something on my mind and the moonlight on the sea will help to clear my thoughts'.
KIM NEWMAN

First published on the BBC Films website.


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