3.5 stars for this low-budget short feature. They probably even saved money by telling Peter Lorre that he could shoot his part in 3 days and hardly had to learn any lines. Still, it isn't bad and Lorre fans will want to see it. Elisha Cook, Jr. is in it too. He's that character actor who plays slimy pathetic hoodlums like "Wilmer" in The Maltese Falcon. And there's some nice use of shadows (see screenshot above).
While Mr. Lorre is quite menacing, he doesn't have a large role in the film. There were some unintentionally humorous sequences, as some of the characters were frozen in fear. I think if I'd seen it back then in a theater it would have been quite effective.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Stranger on the Third Floor started off a little slow, but the nightmare sequences and incredibly moody lighting helped get it on point. A great blueprint for future film noir. A quick and interesting watch.
Rough around the edges, but some of the scenes are visually gorgeous, Lorre's performance is great as always, and overall this is an interesting beginning for film noir. A lot better than I expected, and from here things only got better.
I would like to have been a filmgoer experiencing this movie at the time of its release, as opposed to one having this first-time viewing reaction: Why does Tina Fey look so much like lead actress Margaret Tallichet? By the way, Tallichet's career was relatively short-lived, apart from her questionable talent, because she married William Wyler and raised five children.