Friday, 19 July 2013

The Most Shocking Story Of The Century!

‘10 Rillington Place’ is a horrible film, as it should be: it deals with horrible things. Grimly documenting the squalid murders of John Reginald Christie, it achieves an almost documentary quality. It isn’t easy to watch, although it’s harder to turn away.
Richard Attenborough plays Christie as a whispering, wheedling, pathetic non-person who is only defined by his willingness to cause pain, to take life. I’m not a huge fan of Sir Dickie, but his performance here is extraordinary, not least because it is so enormously unsympathetic. There is nothing remotely likeable or even pitiable about Christie, and his murders, fuelled by rage and sexual aberration, are unforgiveable, especially as they led to the execution of an innocent man, Timothy Evans, played with heart-breaking incomprehension by John Hurt.
Whenever I think of Christie, I feel as if I want to wash my hands, and the film perfectly evokes the sleazy horror of his life and crimes, from the degraded, slum like conditions in which his crimes were perpetrated*, the mean, desperate lives of his victims and their awful post-mortem fate, shoved under floorboards and into cupboards to moulder away – and all of it conducted in the shadow of the noose – the eye for an eye which demeans any society that sanctions it.
I haven’t always been anti-death penalty, by the way. When I was younger it seemed a perfectly sensible solution to the problem. Then I saw this film.
*The film was made on location, but at number 7 as the tenants of 10 didn’t want to move out. In a way, I’m relieved – the film is macabre enough as it is. The whole street was demolished soon afterwards.


  1. I watched this for the first time last year and when it was finally over I sat in silence for a good few minutes until I was sure that it had really gone away.
    Highly unpleasant, and Richard Attenborough should have been hanged for real, just for portraying the character so well.

  2. People should wary of quoting Evans as a classic example of misjustice.

    Firstly, a forgotten or usually misquoted fact about Evans is that the Brabin Inquiry report found that Evans' had 'probably killed his wife' and that he had not killed his daughter. As Evans had been convicted of his daughter Geraldine's murder, and not the murder of his wife, Evans was granted a posthumous pardon in 1966.

    Secondly, I very strongly recommend reading 'The Two Killers of Rillington Place' by John Eddowes released in 1994 (or Bernard Furneaux's 1961 book on the Christie-Evans case). Preferably both, cross referenced with Kennedy's book.

    Like most, I grew up watching dear old Dicky Attenborough and John Hurt in 10 Rillington Place, and read Ludovic Kennedy's famous book on which the film script was based.And like you, I thought Evans an innocent man.

    Until 1995.

    BUT having read Eddowes book and having then re-read Kennedy's as well as Furneaux's and other articles on the case, I now and have for several years believed that in fact Evans DID commit murder and was NOT 'framed'. I have even conversed with Eddowes by email on this.

    Eddowes frankly destroys Kennedy's book and in fact has an entire 'bullet point' chapter simply made up of all the mistakes, half truths and outright distortions of the original evidence. Not only did Eddowes study the Kennedy book and the pardon campaign in the 60's, he reinvestigates the case from top to bottom.

    And uncovered evidence that shows Christie could not have killed Beryl Evans and that Evans, far from being the simpleton portrayed by Hurt, was of normal intelligence and had a police record of domestic assault against Beryl Evans. And that he DID kill both his wife and daughter.
    Evans's low IQ is quite simply a myth.

    Which dosent make Christie any less of a monster, as he killed numerous others.....

    Why no TV documentary was made of this explosive book I will never know(well I do, Evans imo makes a nice if flawed argument to rather liberal tv producers who dislike the death penalty).

    Most British people believe Evans an innocent man. Primarily based on a film. Like me, after reading Eddowes and Furneaux, I doubt many would confidently share their earlier views with little the very least, it should make anyone who reads it at least question the modern belief that Evans was an innocent victim.

    I recommend the two books if you ever come across them. Fascinating reads.