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Opening voice-over narration invites the audience to watch for clues and detect the murderer in this unsolved historical mystery. Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman's onscreen credit reads: "Produced, Directed and Photographed by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman." At the close of the film, when the murderer is crushed in an elevator shaft, the blood seen oozing up from through the elevator floorboards is shown in a graphic red, the black and white film's only color. Lee Patterson, a Canadian actor, plays the only American role in the film.
According to information found in the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film, produced by American Joseph R. Levine's company, Embassy Pictures Corp., was in production in London in 1958 and was subsequently released in Great Britain. According to British reviews, the film opened in England in the summer of 1959. It was not until June 1959 that Jack the Ripper received approval from the PCA. According to a August 28, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Paramount was planning to purchase Embassy Pictures Corp. and offer Levine a position at the studio to head his own production unit. Although this deal did not go through, Paramount subsequently purchased American distribution rights to Jack the Ripper. Reviews suggest that the film was then released in the United States in early 1960.
The case on which this film was based involved the murders of at least five prostitutes in the White Chapel area of London in the late 1880s. As described in the film, the mutilations to the bodies indicated the murderer, dubbed "Jack the Ripper," had some knowledge of anatomy. The case remains unsolved and caused a public outcry at the time, resulting in the resignation of the home secretary and the London police commissioner. According to publicity material found in the AMPAS Library file on the film, writers Peter Hammond and Colin Craig researched the Scotland Yard files on the Jack the Ripper case before writing their original story.
Jack the Ripper has been the subject of many books, motion pictures, television programs and documentaries. For films based on the Marie Belloc Lowndes novel The Lodger, which was inspired by the case of Jack the Ripper, see the entry for the 1944 film The Lodger (AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Other motion pictures based on the case include the 1976 Swiss-German production Jack the Ripper, starring Klaus Kinski and directed by Jesus Franco; the 1979 British motion picture Time After Time, starring Malcolm MacDowell and directed by Nicholas Meyer; and the 2001 American film From Hell, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Albert and Allen Hughes. Jack the Ripper also inspired the 2003 case study written by Patricia Cornwall, Portrait of a Killer, and the 1973 British documentary television series Jack the Ripper, hosted by Sebastian Cabot and starring Stratford Johns.