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Film / 10 Rillington Place

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10 Rillington Place is a dramatisation of real events, so things that might otherwise be treated as spoilers are unmarked on this page.

10 Rillington Place is a 1971 British crime film directed by Richard Fleischer, starring Richard Attenborough and John Hurt. Attenborough portrays John Christie, one of England's most notorious Real Life Serial Killers.

Following a prologue set in 1944, the film skips ahead to 1949 and the arrival of Timothy Evans (Hurt), his wife Beryl (Judy Geeson), and their infant daughter Geraldine to the seedy London flat which Christie sublets at the titular address. Evans is a brutish, illiterate factory worker who beats his wife, and the family has severe money problems. When Beryl discovers that she's pregnant again, this less-than-promising situation leads her to look for a way to get an abortion—which is illegal in 1949 England. In desparation she turns to Christie, who claims to have had medical training and tells her he knows how to perform abortions. Tragic consequences ensue for the entire Evans family.


  • Acquitted Too Late: The closing titles note that Timothy Evans got a posthumous pardon.
  • Attention Whore: Christie derives satisfaction from the Evans affair. Towards the end, when he's a penniless bum living in a flophouse, he tries to show another bum his press clippings.
  • Author Appeal: Despite his initial reluctance to play such an evil character, Richard Attenborough agreed to play Christie as he was a staunch opponent of capital punishment and saw the film's portrayal of the Evans case as reflecting his views.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Actually, Christie isn't one, not even a back-alley version. But he pretends to be one to lure victims into his clutches. He convinces one woman that he can fix her chronic cough, he convinces poor Beryl that he can give her an abortion, and he convinces another woman that he can cure her migraines.
  • Based on a True Story: "This is a true story. Whenever possible the dialogue has been based on official documents" (opening title card).
  • Bald of Evil: Christie's baldness adds to his overwhelming creepiness.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Christie comes off as a mild-mannered, kind and friendly older man to most people. He's actually a cold-blooded Serial Killer and Soft-Spoken Sadist who hides behind this facade while also manipulating other people to satisfy his murderous urges.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Christie is finally caught and brought to justice for his crimes at the end of the film. But since Tim's long since been executed and Christie's managed to kill several other people in the interim, it's difficult to view it as a happy ending.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Christie relentlessly perjures himself during Tim's trial.
    • Tim as well is known for making up ridiculous lies. This ends up seriously damaging his credibility and making it easy for Christie to frame him.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one believes Tim by the time he finally admits what really happened, nor the multiple times he insists that "Christie done it!"
  • Consummate Liar: The one trait Christie and Evans have in common, but leading to drastically different results.
  • Crocodile Tears: Christie at Tim's trial after he's convicted and sentenced to death. He also pretends to be saddened and devastated by Beryl's death and Tim's supposed murder of Geraldine.
  • Death of a Child: Geraldine becomes one of Christie's victims.
  • Disposing of a Body: Christie does this several times.
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • Tim Evans gets violent when his wife pisses him off.
    • Christie's wife Ethel becomes one of his victims.
  • Faux Affably Evil: On the surface, Christie seems a perfect gentleman, if perhaps a bit stern, and he has Richard Attenborough's famous paternal warmth and charm. Beneath it though lurks an absolute monster.
  • Finally Found the Body: New tenants moving in to the building find the remains of several of Christie's victims.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Christie wears thick glasses and is absolutely evil.
  • Frame-Up: Christie strangles Geraldine with Tim's tie in order to make him look responsible.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: Right as Christie is being taken into custody by the bobby who passed him on the street, the film pauses on a blurry shot of his face.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Tim clearly thinks this, given his anger when he learns of Beryl's plan, even though he's just as upset about her pregnancy in the first place.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We are mercifully spared the sight of Christie killing Geraldine, only seeing him go upstairs with a length of rope.
  • Hope Spot: Beryl manages to get the mask off... but Christie knocks her unconscious before she can scream or break free.
  • I Love the Dead: Christie rapes his victims after rendering them unconscious.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: That she's pregnant does not deter Christie from killing Beryl. If anything, he seems quite pleased that her situation has given him this opportunity.
  • In Medias Res: The film opens with Christie murdering a woman. His practiced demeanor and the fact that we get a glimpse of the remains of another victim make it clear that he's been at this for sometime.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: How Christie conceals his murder of Beryl. Even worse, he gets poor Tim convinced that he's just as responsible.
  • Manipulative Bastard: On top of everything else, Christie is very shameless in the way he gains other people's trust, sympathy, or uses guilt trips to get them to do what he wants.
  • Match Cut: From Evans being dropped through a gallows to Christie straightening up and wincing with back pain.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: One of the most notorious in British history. The execution of Timothy Evans for two murders later discovered to have been committed by John Christie helped bring about the suspension of the death penalty in the United Kingdom in 1965 (it was finally abolished in 1969).
  • Never Learned to Read: Tim Evans can't read. His ignorance makes it that much easier for Christie to manipulate him.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Tim's numerous lies about what happened to Beryl shoot him in the foot when he tries to claim that he didn't kill her.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • We twice see Christie's victims have this reaction when he's drugging them and they realize too late that something sinister is happening.
    • Christie himself a few times, most notably when he looks out the window and sees the police opening the manhole cover.
  • Pet the Dog: Tim is an abusive drunk, but is genuinely devastated by Beryl's death, and clearly adores his daughter.
  • Police Are Useless: When investigating the Beryl Evans murder, the cops manage to miss the bodies Christie has buried in the backyard. (In Real Life it was even worse—the police missed a human thigh bone that was supporting a fence post, and failed to connect the dots when a skull from one of Christie's victims was found in a nearby bombed-out building.)
  • Serial Killer: As established in the opening scene. Christie gasses, rapes, and strangles a woman who came to him thinking he would cure her cough. Christie starts digging a grave for her in the backyard—and uncovers the protruding foot of a previous victim. The Real Life Christie is believed to have killed at least eight people.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: It's implied that Christie's service in World War I seriously unhinged him, or at least emphasized an existing personality disorder. His thin voice and breathing problems are ascribed directly to a poison gas attack, and Evans' defense attorney suggests that the experience also affected his mental health.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Exteriors were shot in the actual Rillington Place (or Ruston Close, as the street was called after 1954). Interiors were shot in 7 Rillington Place after the occupants of 10 refused to allow filming. Not long after this movie was released, the entire neighborhood was demolished to make way for new construction.
    • Albert Pierrepoint, the actual hangman who executed both Evans and Christie, was an uncredited consultant on the hanging scenes.
  • The Sociopath: Christie seems to regard everyone as either a potential victim or a useful asset to help him get away with his murders, and shows no remorse for his crimes.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Christie is very calm and mild-mannered, and uses this to reassure his victims, further luring them into his traps. This was a major reason why Christie was able to elude capture for so long, and makes his story all the more frightening.
  • Time Skip: The opening scene wherein Christie kills a woman is set in 1944. The film then skips forward to 1949 and dramatizes the Timothy and Beryl Evans story. Then it skips ahead again to 1953, with Christie unemployed and broke, and his wife knowing the truth about him.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Tim trusts Christie and ends up with a dead wife, daughter, and on death row. He also leaves his infant daughter in the Christie's care, leading to her death.
    • Despite knowing that her husband's a killer and clearly being afraid of him, Ethel doesn't leave him... and ends up as one of his victims.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Christie kills Geraldine, who's just an infant, after he'd murdered her mother.