Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-law student, kills an old pawnbroker and her sister, perhaps for money, perhaps to prove a theory about being above the law. He comes to police attention ... See full summary »
Student Raskolnikow, who has written an article about laws and crime, proposing the thesis, that un-ordinary people can commit crimes if their actions are necessary for the benifit of ... See full summary »
Roderick Raskolnikov, a brilliant criminology student and writer, becomes embittered by poverty and his inability to support his family. When he sees a desperate prostitute, Sonya, degraded by a vicious pawnbroker, Raskolnikov, a proponent of the idea that some people are imbued with such intelligence that the law cannot be applied to them as to other people, decides to rid the world of the pawnbroker and thus save his family and Sonya as well from the fate poverty forces on them. When Porphiry, the police detective investigating the murder, encounters Raskolnikov, he finds a man nearly crippled by the guilt and paranoia his deed has burdened him with. But Raskolnikov clings with as much coldness and calculation as he can muster to his guiding idea, that some crimes ought not to be punished. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Josef von Sternberg was contractually obligated to make this film, and he disliked it, saying in his autobiography that it was "no more related to the true text of the novel than the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower is related to the Russian environment." See more »
[seeing Sonya searching for something a the bottom of the stair]
What did you lose?
[referring to the pawnbroker]
A ruble. It dropped out of my hand when she pushed me out of the door.
Someone ought to push her into the next world!
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One of the credits reads "Story by Dostoievsky". There is an asterisk next to this credit, and at the bottom it says, "Feodor Dostoievsky, Russia's foremost author, wrote 'Crime and Punishment' in 1866'". See more »
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (Josef von Sternberg, 1935) ***
For his first Hollywood movie, Peter Lorre billed as "the great international star" personally chose to play the lead in an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's masterpiece, although he is curiously second billed to the film's nominal star Edward Arnold (appearing in the film's latter half as his nemesis, the Chief of Police). The film has been justifiably criticized for being a greatly oversimplified and condensed version of Dostoyevsky's mammoth novel but, not having read the book myself, I was satisfied with (and found much to admire in) von Sternberg's typically pictorial direction which highlights Lucien Ballard's atmospheric chiaroscuro lighting. Peter Lorre is perfectly cast as the arrogant genius Roderick Raskolnikov whose tracts on criminology has made him a household word with the police authorities but, perhaps due to an excess of pride, apparently also reduced him to a bottom-of-the-barrel social status; a casualty of the film's ruthless editing of the original source is the fact that Raskolnikov's fall from grace (from a master pupil to a bum) is never properly explained. Meeting up with a lovely gamine (Marian Marsh) at a heartless pawnbroker's and fully confident in his own superiority 'above the law', he soon puts his theories into practice by doing away with the latter; picked up for questioning by the Police, Arnold (also excellent) soon requests his assistance on the murder investigation itself upon learning of Lorre's true identity and, before long, an innocent neighbor (FRANKENSTEIN 's Michael Mark) is brought before them as the prime suspect. The cast also includes Gene Lockhart (as Lorre's pompous brother-in-law-to-be) and Douglas Dumbrille (as a former employer of Lorre's sister who is now seemingly hounding his steps). Reportedly, von Sternberg did this merely as a contractual assignment and is said to talk disparagingly of it in his famous autobiography, "Fun In A Chinese Laundry"; whatever the case, it was a good start for him after the termination of his celebrated long-running collaboration with Marlene Dietrich. There have been several film adaptations of the Dostoyevsky novel over the years but the most intriguing one that I would like to catch up with is Robert Wiene's 1923 German Expressionist Silent version RASKOLNIKOV which, for better or worse, was recently released on DVD by Alpha under the novel's more recognizable title.
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