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directed by Boris Ingster
USA 1940


With Stranger On The Third Floor you can see the genre beginning to take shape. It tells a simple story of a reporter named Mike Ward (John McGuire) who stumbles upon a murder victim and identifies a nervous cabbie (played by Elisha Cook Jr) as the person he saw previously arguing with the dead man. On the strength of Mike’s testimony, the little cabbie is convicted. Mike, however, is plagued with doubt. Did he just send an innocent man to the electric chair? These doubts increase after the trial when he runs into a creepy psycho played by Peter Lorre. Is Lorre the murderer? Things take a turn for the worse when it starts to look like Lorre might have just committed another murder, a murder which will point, ironically enough, back to Mike.

Excerpt of review from The Night Editor located HERE


Theatrical Release: 16 August 1940 (USA)

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:03:56

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.61 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: September 21st, 2010
Keep Case

Chapters 18



Stranger on the Third Floor is considered by many to be the first film noir. A little programmer with a terrific, if too brief, performance by Peter Lorre, it was featured in a documentary Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light found in Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 3, so many noir fans expected it to see in one of those sets. 2 film noir sets later, Warner Archive comes to the rescue with a new restoration of this suspense thriller directed by a Russian-born Boris Ingster and beautifully filmed by Nicholas Musuraca.

The last time the film was mastered was in 1984, and that transfer is likely what was released on DVD in Spain and France. The third-generation title sequence were taken from a UK print to restore the RKO logo and name above the title (see title capture above), but once the film starts, the restoration is excellent. There are some specs and marks, but they are not very noticeable. The mono soundtrack is without any issues and per usual, there are no subtitles provided. Unfortunately, there is no trailer (it would be interesting to see how it was marketed at the time), but the film is divided into generous 18 chapters. Unfortunately, some background information wasn't provided on the disc, but those interested should check out the documentary mentioned above. In this package, it's the film that counts and thanks to Warner Archive, the film never looked better on home video. For more details about making and critical reception of Stranger on the Third Floor, check out a chapter dedicated to the film in Sheri Chinen Biesen's Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Region 0 - NTSC


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