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Raffles (1930)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 476 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 7 critic

A distinguished English gentleman has a secret life--he is the notorious jewel thief the press has dubbed "The Amateur Cracksman". When he meets a woman and falls in love he decides to "... See full summary »

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, (novel), 1 more credit »
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Title: Raffles (1930)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
David Torrence ...
Frederick Kerr ...
Lord Harry Melrose (as Frederic Kerr)
Bramwell Fletcher ...
John Rogers ...
Wilson Benge ...
Alison Skipworth ...
Frances Dade ...
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Storyline

A distinguished English gentleman has a secret life--he is the notorious jewel thief the press has dubbed "The Amateur Cracksman". When he meets a woman and falls in love he decides to "retire" from that life, but an old friend comes to him with a predicament that entails him committing one last job. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Details

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Release Date:

24 July 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Herr Raffles gör visit  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bette Davis screen tested for the role of Gwendolyn. And failed. See more »

Goofs

His lordship demonstrates his alarm system to his male dinner guests, noting with it engaged, the alarm goes off if any window opens (one would also assume, the doors). Later that evening, after shutting off the alarm, Raffles catches a real thief, makes a deal to hand over his booty, and help him escape from the house. The police detective notices the open window, closes it and resets the alarm, seconds before the real thief and Raffles opens the window. The alarm goes off and a chase ensues. As they apprehend the thief, we're shown one of the bedrooms with windows open and curtains blowing in the breeze. If the alarm is triggered by any open window, these windows should have been closed. And with the threat of robbery that night, all the windows would have been closed and locked. See more »

Quotes

Inspector McKenzie: Good heavens! In the tobacco! Well, I'll be...
A.J. Raffles: Yes, I thought that you would be.
See more »

Connections

Version of Raffles (1925) See more »

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User Reviews

 
No Orchids for Mr. Raffles?
23 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Samuel Goldwyn was a legendary film producer, who frequently knew what the public wanted. The line of his films that became classic is first rate: THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, BALL OF FIRE, THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES. He also had his favorite stars. One of them was Ronald Colman, whom Goldwyn skillfully shepherded through a number of films, most importantly his necessary first talkie BULLDOG DRUMMOND. As I mentioned in my review of that film, Goldwyn wished to avoid the pitfalls that destroyed so many silent film star careers, most notably Colman's rival John Gilbert. DRUMMOND turned out to be a stunningly great opening sound film for the vocally gifted Colman.

For many years after Goldwyn chose Colman's properties. This was (in the main) a good thing. He got Colman the roles in ARROWSMITH and CLIVE OF India and other hits of the 1930s, and lent him out for LOST HORIZON and THE PRISONER OF ZENDA. But he could make errors of judgment - no producer is flawless. Having seen the wonderful success of BULLDOG DRUMMOND (culminating in an Oscar nomination for Colman as best actor - he lost to George Arliss as DISRAELI), Goldwyn searched for other films of literary merit. Sapper had written the Bulldog Drummond stories. Goldwyn found the stories of E. J. Hornung about the "Amateur Cracksman" Raffles.

Hornung had written these stories beginning in 1899. He had married a young woman who had an interesting brother named Arthur Conan Doyle, who just happened to create the most exciting and interesting pair of literary figures in the Victorian and Edwardian period: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Hornung wrote too, and he decided to show what he thought of his brother-in-law's success. He created the noted social success, Mr. A.J. Raffles - Britain's leading cricketer (what happened to Dr. W. R. Grace?). Raffles is constantly in the social columns as well as the sports columns. But he has a double life. To be able to maintain his position, he is a skilled burglar. Most of his burglaries are at the expense of his friends.

George Orwell wrote a fascinating look at the Raffle stories as compared to the more violent crime stories of the 1930s. It was called "Raffles and Miss Blandish" referring to the ill-fated heroine of the novel, "No Orchids For Miss Blandish". Orwell pointed out that the Hornung tales were quite good (in the first series or two - they did not maintain their level of competence in the later tales). But they actually were acute studies in the social class problems of their day. Raffles is forced to be "the Amateur Cracksman" because he does not have the income needed to maintain his friendship with the social elite that his cricket playing has gotten him entry into . Therefore, he is treading a fine line. As he puts it, "We were in society, Bunny, not part of it." So when, at the end of the stories, he is exposed as a criminal, he has been socially obliterated. As Orwell says, a nobleman who steals, once he is out of prison, is still a nobleman. Not so a poor cricketer.

Unfortunately, the story that is the basis of RAFFLES is not a good one. It has scenes where he (Raffles/Colman) manages to get out of close scrapes, but the Scotland Yard Inspector (David Torrence, in a good performance) is not being fooled. There are too many points in which only Raffles could be in those situations by being a thief, the very thief Scotland Yard seeks. That Raffles escapes at the end, using Torrence's own mackintosh, and making even the Inspector laugh at what a good fellow he really is, seems forced.

It does not help that his social code, of coming to the aid of a friend, involves him with risking all for his pal Bunny (Bramwell Fletcher). Bunny is a weakling who enjoys gambling - and keeps running up preposterous debts. In real life he'd be abandoned by everyone as a pest and a leech. Colman decides to pull off one more crime to rescue Bunny. Interestingly Bunny's money problem is solved, by him collecting the award for the capture of "the Amateur Cracksman" at the end. Although Colman is willing to do this, Bunny does not seem unduly upset that his friend is ruining himself for him.

With this weak script, the film collapses. Colman, Kay Francis, Frederick Kerr, Torrence, and Alison Skipworth do well. Mention should also be made of a rival, lower class burglar who provides a bit of menace. But the film still is too weak to be of more than cursory interest to the viewer. Hence my rating of 5. I may add that while Goldwyn did a sequel to BULLDOG DRUMMOND with Colman, he never did a sequel to RAFFLES. However, in the late 1930s he revamped Raffles and shot it with his new Colman, David Niven, in the title role.


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