The story of the psychopath who scared Boston 60 years ago from a female perspective

Between 1962 and 1965, no less than 13 women were brutally murdered in Boston, all raped and strangled, until the culprit was identified and arrested. The story of Albert DeSalvo, the psychopath who identified his victims as women who lived alone has been told in cinema more than once, the first and most famous being in 1968, when he was still alive, in a film starring Tony Curtis: The Boston Strangler.

The Boston Strangler was a curious film. The narrative is like a documentary and the killer’s identity is only revealed after the death of the 11th victim, something innovative at the time (because with that, Tony only appeared after 1 hour of filming). Deemed too old for a role that had been offered to Robert Redford and Warren Beaty, Tony gave a praised performance and struggled to be in the production.

Based on the book by Gerold Frank, to date, no review of the story has focused on the two women who helped with the investigation and who even gave him the code name “Boston Strangler”, journalists Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole. Without them, with the prevailing corruption and machismo, the victims would have been ignored because women – not even murdered – generated interest from editors. The tenacity and courage of female journalists, who defied the sexism of the time and took risks to reveal the truth, will finally be addressed in the Hulu movie, The Boston Strangler, with Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon in the lead roles. An incredible story that mixes true crime and investigative journalism.

The film will focus on the reports and efforts of the reporters to denounce femicide, but in real life, there is so much controversy over the true identity of the serial killer that it will be curious to see how they portray it. Albert DeSalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler convinced by a lawyer when he was arrested for other crimes (he was also the Man in Green who raped women who were home alone). Until 2013, even victims’ families doubted that he was guilty of the violent and appalling crimes that stunned Boston in the 1960s. According to the police, at least in the case of one of the victims he was actually guilty (a DNA test proved it), but they leave open all the other crimes that there are still circumstantial doubts. It weighs in favor of his being the murderer that the attacks stopped when he was arrested, but there is also room for speculation. For Loretta, who passed away in 2018, there was never any doubt that Albert DeSalvo really was the Boston Strangler. The film brings two great actresses and it will be worth revisiting all the controversy and behind-the-scenes history. Opens in the US on March 17th.

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