Author: msroz from United States
28 February 2017
"The Strangler" (1964) is about as perfectly done a picture of its kind as you will find. Another one along the line of a low-budget picture like this is "The Gangster" (1947) with Barry Sullivan, one that's even better because it creates a pressure-cooker atmosphere. But that's not to take away from "The Strangler", which is excellent up and down the line. It's only to point out that what used to be smaller Hollywood b-movies or produced by lesser studios sometimes produce real gems. Another one is "Suspense" (1946). These are all noirs, "The Strangler" being a late noir. Its atmosphere includes dread of the strangler's next move. We witness Buono playing a man who is breaking under the emotional strain, alternately calm enough to pass a lie detector test and furious enough to continue his skein of killings.
The entire cast comes through in this picture, but surely Victor Buono is outstanding. It's his expressions and body language and his delivery of lines that bring his character to life, showing us the tormented nature of his character and his twisted behavior. The Allied Artists production team includes some Paramount people and uses Paramount facilities, but the team is mostly unknown to me. Yet the result is great, including some fine noir shots that counted when needed.
Ellen Corby plays Buono's nagging and doting mother, doing everything to tie the man down and deflate his ego. No one could do it better than this actress.
I'd seen the picture before on full screen VHS, but the widescreen DVD version is a terrific plus.