A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police lineup.
The police find the actress, Diana Baring, near the body of her friend. All the circumstantial proofs seems to point to her and, at the end of the trial, she is condemned. Sir John Menier, a jury member, suspects Diana's boyfriend, who works as an acrobat wearing a dresses. Written by
Claudio Sandrini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The scene where Sir John thinks out loud in front of a mirror had to be filmed with a recording of the lines and a thirty piece orchestra hidden behind the set as it was not possible to post-dub the soundtrack later. See more »
When Sir John interviews Diana in jail, they are shown sitting at opposite ends of a table in long-shot. The widths of the planks that make up the tabletop reveal that, in closeups, they are both seated at the same end of the table. See more »
People ought to be ashamed of themselves, kicking up all that racket at this time of night.
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One of the most conventional stories Hitchcock ever filmed, this is an innovative early curio full of clever moments, a vibrant feature that overwhelms its intelligent but lifeless (and dated) script. It is not a match for the stunning BLACKMAIL, but it is a worthy followup after the less interesting JUNO & THE PAYCOCK.
Sir John's quest to clear the woman he helped convict of murder charges takes a familiar whodunit path, but the performances help make this a unique film. All credit goes to Hitchcock for crafting another visually arresting movie and for knowing precisely how to tell the tale without overreaching (something he accomplished even in his weakest movies).
You'd expect that this movie, full of pioneering experiments, would feel like an antique; so many of the things it attempts have become tired clichés, yet the actors and director ensured that MURDER! would retain a freshness that is potent even now.
Without revealing too much, the sequence that really stays with you occurs near the end of the picture at a circus. This climactic, dark scene will leave you reeling in disbelief. Each time I see it I come away wondering how he managed something so remarkable -- and in a sense, terrifying -- to wrap up this Agatha Christie-like plot. Hitchcock's brightest years are ahead of him at this point, but the circus scene may be a career highlight.
The director disliked "whodunit" stories due to their rigid structure and the lack of opportunities for suspense, and admittedly this story is not as exciting as THE LODGER or BLACKMAIL, but he does milk the plot for all that it's worth and I think most anyone would be entertained by it. For Hitchcock buffs, this is a must, and thanks to the copious experimentation it's also recommended to anyone who is interested in early sound cinema.
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