Jack the Ripper Leaves Bloody Film Legacy
ERIC McNAUGHTON looks at the cinematic history of the notorious Whitechapel serial killer, Jack the Ripper
In the early hours of Friday, 31st August 1888, the body of Mary Ann Nichols was found in Bucks Row in London’s Whitechapel district. She had been horribly mutilated and was the first victim of the serial killer who was to become infamous as Jack the Ripper. 124 years on we are no nearer to learning his or her identity, despite literally hundreds of theories. Such is our fascination, there have been numerous attempts to tell the story on film.
One of the earliest was Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Lodger – A Story of the London Fog” (1927). It was based on the novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes although the ending was changed when matinee idol Ivor Novello was cast as the title character. The film was subsequently remade in 1932, 1944, 1953 (as “The Man in the Attic”) & 2009. Very similar was “Room to Let” (1949) starring Valentine Dyall (the Man in Black) and made by Hammer Films who would subsequently give us two more Ripper-themed films in “Hands of the Ripper” and “Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde” (both 1971).