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Movie Review: The Boston Strangler (1968)
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Posted by: LateForLunch

03/13/2019, 08:37:51

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If you missed or otherwise haven't seen it in awhile this is an interesting movie for a lot of reasons.

First foremost it's strong evidence that pretty boy Tony Curtis did more than bring one smokin' hot woman into the world (Jamie) but he could do some great acting work.

Henry Fonda (who brought a vile traitor into the world) and George Kennedy (who did a passable portrayal of Eminem in Cool Hand Luke) contribute to the cast but ultimately it's Curtis's performance that IMO makes this a very special film.

The director's documentary style works - no doubt Michael Moore studied/copied this film in every possible way when he decided to make his own pathetic, hackneyed "documentary" films.

The period-feel of the film is refreshing. The director (Richard Fleischer) captured a slice-of-time for the early 1960s for the Smithsonian archives. The verbiage, rhetorical style, vehicles, buildings, clothes are captured with realism for the 1960s. Fortunately the movie was made only a few years after the actual events took place so abundant resources existed to portray 1962-3 when the murders occurred.

For me, the psychological aspect of the story was interesting. Albert DiSalvo may well have been a rare case of a genuinely split personality (which occurs in the general U.S. population @ 1-in-50 million) who was also a serial murderer. Total dissociation between identities is most often faked by people seeking attention or excuses for doing criminal things. Few real split personalities are functional enough to be employed or have families - most are likely homeless/institutionalized or commit suicide.

In the Strangler's case, it was almost certainly a real case of total dissociation. It's an example of what can happen when the organic machinery of the human mind goes completely haywire. Curtis captured the sad, lost, miserable, terrified nature of DiSalvo which was likely very realistic. The horrible truth is that people who are that messed up are miserable. DiSalvo actually had a family who never suspected that he was a murderer and reportedly never was violent with them.

It seems strange but sometimes very disturbed people compartmentalize their pathology and only act-out in ways that would reveal their insanity when safely isolated/detached from their "normal" lives.

The Grim Sleeper (Glendale, California), though not a multiple personality, also had a family who never suspected that he was a serial murderer.

Modified by LateForLunch at Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 09:30:02

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