Frustrated by a seemingly infallible gang of jewel thieves, Scotland Yard arranges to have an undercover agent become part of the gang. Once inside, the agent starts to become attached to a Russian woman who is part of the gang but seems to want to break free of the sordid life she leads. Trying to trap the leader of the gang -- whom no one has ever seen - the police plan goes awry and their agent is put into mortal danger, with his one chance being the Russian woman having told the truth about wanting to break free. Written by
Ron Kerrigna <email@example.com>
Though "Crime Unlimited" has quite a different "feel" from what a Warners U.S. production on the same plot premise would have the American version would have moved a lot faster and would have had wall-to-wall background music (this one doesn't have an underscore at all!) it's quite a good movie and makes one wish more of the Teddington productions existed. (About 100 were made while Warners owned the studio but only about one-third of them survive and among the lost is the one most everyone would most want to see: "Murder at Monte Carlo," Errol Flynn's first starring role and the film that convinced Jack Warner that Flynn belonged in Hollywood.) Its debt to the Holmes-Moriarty story and especially to Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse films is pretty evident the villain is a man who, to preserve his incognito, meets his confederates in a secret room and communicates with them only by intercom but it's well plotted, the denouement makes sense and Esmond Knight is a personable hero, handsome but also quite a good actor who effectively projects the character's combination of courage and naïveté. But the film belongs to Lilli Palmer, whose performance would jump out at you even if you didn't know she would become a star later on; playing the most conflicted character in the story, she makes her rich and complex and brings her dilemmas home. Ralph Ince's direction could have used more of a sense of atmosphere (though it was clear from some of the setups in the villain's headquarters that he'd screened Lang's Mabuse films), and there are a few points where the pace slackened and the film seemed dull, but overall "Crime Unlimited" is quite a good piece of work and the British audiences who saw it in 1935 were probably entertained even while waiting for the big Warners Hollywood production they'd actually paid to see.
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