See How They Run (2022) pays tribute to Agatha Christie’s long-running play The Mousetrap and is also an inquiry into whether it is ethical for writers to mine fiction from personal cases. The British crime comedy includes a scene in which Sam Rockwell’s police inspector, who is investigating a Hollywood producer’s murder, is told that resources are being diverted to a more urgent matter – the Rillington serial killer.
See How They Run (on Disney+ Hotstar) includes actors playing Christie and Richard Attenborough, who played a major role in the first stage adaptation of The Mousetrap. The film is a damp squib despite a stellar cast and handsome production values. By contrast, the movie based on the Rillington case is a slow-burning, yet explosive affair. The 1971 production has another connection to See How They Run: it is headlined by Richard Attenborough, who went on to direct the biopic Gandhi.
In the 1940s in post-World War II London, John Christie (Attenborough) is murdering women. His scholarly appearance and retiring manner raise no suspicions, with even his wife clueless about his depravity.
The film is available on a pay-per-view basis on BookMyShow Stream. Successive World Wars form the backdrop for Christie’s hidden mania.
While the plot gives hints of Christie’s back story, the events are focused on his encounters with a young couple who move into the upstairs flat with their young daughter. Timothy Evans (John Hurt) is an unlettered worker, while Beryl Evans (Judy Geeson) is a housewife who becomes Christie’s latest target.
The film’s appeal stems from its ordinariness. Directed by eminent American filmmaker Richard Fleischer, 10 Rillington Place has none of the sensationalistic gimmicks associated with serial killer dramas. The genteel poverty in which the characters live and the drab settings for horrific murders are depicted with documentary-style realism. The slow pacing allows Christie’s malevolence to play out in the full as well as brings out the staggering banality of his evil.
Richard Attenborough is stunningly convincing in the lead role. Attenborough drops his voice several octaves and maintains a correct manner at all times except in the chilling moments when he has his victims in his grasp. John Hurt is excellent as the hapless Timothy, who is easily manipulated by Christie.
The case on which the film is based is regarded as a leading example of miscarriage of justice. The cursory police investigation into Beryl’s death brings to mind a more recent case that is roiling the British media: the disappearance of 45-year-old Nicola Bulley while walking her dog. Questions are being raised on the police handling of the investigation – not the first time this has happened, as 10 Rilllington Place shows us.
Also in the ‘Start the week with a film’ series:
In ‘Mullum Malarum’, Rajinikanth before the ‘Superstar’ branding
(The OG) ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’