Tony Curtis received some of the best reviews of his life for playing the title role of "The Boston Strangler." Or did he?
Ah, is there nothing that is crystal clear about this chapter in America's long-running serial novel about serial killers? Yes, it is a matter of absolute fact that some of the best critical notices that Tony Curtis ever enjoyed came courtesy of his performance as Albert DeSalvo, the man convicted in the court of public opinion for the crimes attributed to the anonymous serial killer terrorizing the Boston area. But was DeSalvo really guilty? Was the one and only Boston Strangler-if there was just one serial killer at work-actually arrested, tried, convicted and incarcerated?
The exceptionally talented Casey Affleck is reportedly ready to produce and star in a new movie about the Boston Strangler. Early reports, while vague, strongly indicate that the film may raise once again many of the questions that appear to be answered in Tony Curtis' memorable portrayal. But that's the thing: just when you think you've got a handle on the truth about the Boston Strangler, that pesky little critter known as factual evidence keeps popping up.
Affleck has proven with "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" that he is not particularly interested in playing unambiguous characters in movies where right and wrong and good and bad are starkly divided. The little brother of Ben has staked a claim as the most fascinating actor of his generation through a series of performances that force audiences to question facile notions like heroism and villainy and guilt and innocence.
To put it bluntly, Casey Affleck probably could not have chosen a more apt figure in American serial killing history to put his considerable talents to making a movie about than Albert DeSalvo. Consider these facts: DeSalvo was never tried for a single one of the crimes attributed to the Boston Strangler. "The Boston Strangler" strongly suggests that DeSalvo was undoubtedly the murderer despite taking great liberties not only with the known facts of the case,. DeSalvo's attorney, the inexplicably heralded F. Lee Bailey, asserted during his opening statements at DeSalvo's trial for completely unrelated crimes his own belief of DeSalvo's guilt in the Boston Strangler case in a bizarre and failed legal "strategy" designed to get the jury to find him not guilty by reason of insanity. But Bailey's basis for this belief was not based on collected evidence so much as on his own private discussions with his client.
Whom he was convinced was a paranoid schizophrenic!
I can't think of a better choice to take on this perfect example of weaving tangled webs as part of the business as usual by a police force taking heat for not being able to capture a man capable of sending an entire city in to panic, a judicial system in which a glorified ambulance chaser like F. Lee Bailey becomes a superstar and a society in which Hollywood is allowed to make the final determination of guilt free from the inconvenience of having to back up their claims with evidence.
For more from Timothy Sexton, Yahoo's first Writer of the Year, check out: