John Hurt's 10 Most Underrated Performances

2. Timothy Evans - 10 Rillington Place (1971)

Wjojwd With only a week to go before Hallowe'en, many of us are on the hunt for a good scare. So if you're a fan of serial killer stories, but are bored with the Hannibal movies or their many derivatives, you could do a lot worse than checking out 10 Rillington Place. Coming 20 years before The Silence of the Lambs, it's visually a lot more restrained but just as terrifying and in some ways a lot more tragic. 10 Rillington Place is based on the true story of John Christie (Richard Attenborough), who murdered eight women in the titular house during World War II and buried their remains in the house and back garden. When new tenants arrive in the form of Timothy Evans (Hurt) and his family, Christie offers to help his wife get rid of an unwanted pregnancy - only to rape and strangle her to death, and then kill her daughter. Evans, being illiterate and of limited intelligence, is tried for the crimes and hanged in one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. For most of the film, Hurt serves as a foil to the skin-crawling Attenborough, whose character is so far removed from the image we now have of him as the avuncular, grandfather figure in Jurassic Park. But in the final act Hurt comes into his own, with his fear and confusion at the sentence burning its way into our memories. The hanging scene is one of the most nerve-shredding in cinema, and the whole thing is well worth a look this Hallowe'en.

Freelance copywriter, film buff, community radio presenter. Former host of The Movie Hour podcast ( and click 'Interviews'), currently presenting on Phonic FM in Exeter ( Other loves include theatre, music and test cricket.