“Did you ever want to kill a man?”
“My son, there's murder in every intelligent man's heart.”
I am sure there have been times in your life where someone has bothered you so much that you say to yourself that they are so annoying you want to kill them or you hate someone so much you wish they would die. Of course, being the moral, well adjusted human being that you are, you do not actually kill the person you are spewing venom about. From watching so many crime shows and films I try never to say I am going to kill someone even as a joke out loud because you never know if that can come back and kick you in the rear. I will definitely now never say that out loud after watching the Film Noir Stranger on the Third Floor.
Mike Ward is a newspaper reporter. He has gotten quite the raise because he was the only witness to a murder and is set to testify. Since he witnessed a murder he wrote up his account for the newspaper and it sold very well. Mike has a girlfriend named Jane and he wants to marry her as soon as the trial is all over and go pick out furniture for their apartment together.
At the trial Mike testifies that he saw a young kid named Joe Briggs slice the throat of a guy on a corner. Joe has been in trouble with the law before but only for a small robbery. Since then he has been a hard working kid. When Joe gets on the stand he swears up and down and passionately that he did not kill the guy. Jane is in the courtroom when Joe is sentenced to death. The way Joe yelled out that he was innocent really got to Jane. She starts to doubt Mike and she even breaks off their engagement because Joe’s screams of innocence will always be between them.
Someone tells Mike that anyone is capable of murdering another human being. When he goes back to his apartment alone the trial really gets to him too and he begins to doubt what he saw that night and even his own sanity. He hears someone in the hall and sees an odd looking man roaming about. Mike does not think anything of the man and goes back into his apartment. He thinks about the night his landlord Mr. Meng came barging into his apartment because he had Jane in his room when he was not really supposed to. Mike threatened to kill Meng because he was a nosy pain in the rear. Meng and his wife got all in a huff as they were being pushed out the door. Mike falls asleep and dreams that Meng is found dead and he has been arrested for killing the man. In the dream he pleads his innocence like Joe Briggs but no one will listen to him.
When Mike wakes up he is sweating profusely and deeply disturbed. He goes to check on his nosy neighbor and finds the door open a crack. When he opens the door Mike finds Meng dead on the floor with his throat slashed just like the man he witnessed being murdered. In a panic Mike goes back to his room and immediately starts packing. He calls Jane to meet him in the park and to bring some money. He tells her that his landlord is dead and he will be the first suspect and he has to get away. Jane convinces him to go back and call the police. He listens to her and calls the police. Mike goes back to the apartment and lets the police know that he was the one who called them and that he found the body. His nightmare comes true and the police take him down to the station. Mike tries to tell the police about the strange man in the hallway but they do not listen to him very well.
Jane decides to look for the man Mike described herself. After hours of walking around the neighborhood she goes to a diner. The Stranger from the hallways happens to come in the same diner. Jane follows him out and asks him to walk her home since it is late. Through her wording of some things and a few questions Jane gets The Stranger to confess to the murders. She tries to get into an apartment building to call the police but the old woman who answers just thinks she is drunk and slams the door. The Stranger tries to take Jane away but she luckily escapes. As he tries to chase Jane The Stranger runs across the street only to be hit by car.
From Jane’s testimony both Mike and Joe Briggs are released from jail.
Stranger on the Third Floor was a very good thriller. I love mind-f*ck films and this was definitely one those and I definitely liked it. The black and white completely added to the sense of anxiety and fright. Mike’s dream sequence was perfect. It as if I was watching a surrealist or Expressionist film where the sets and shadows are ten times larger than they normally would be. Stranger on the Third Floor is an all around excellent Film Noir and one definitely worth watching especially if you like the Noir genre/style.