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 dress.Written by
Claudio Sandrini <email@example.com>
Good, Early Sound Effort by the Master of Suspense
Although not as photographically fluid as his later films, Alfred Hitchcock, in his first sound film, managed to overcome the limitations of early recording equipment. With "Murder," he produced an entertaining work that holds up better and does not creak as much as many films of the early sound period.
"Murder" also provides early clues to themes that continued throughout Hitchcock's movie-making career. The accused perpetrator of a crime, who was caught with circumstantial evidence, has only a single champion that believes in her innocence. The wrongly accused would appear throughout Hitchcock's work from Robert Donat in "The Thirty-Nine Steps" to Henry Fonda in "The Wrong Man" and Cary Grant in "North by Northwest." Sexually ambiguous characters like Handel Fane in "Murder" would continue to fascinate Hitchcock over the years as well. Again, from Judith Anderson in "Rebecca," Robert Walker in "Strangers on a Train," Farley Granger and John Dall in "Rope," to even Mrs. Bundy, the ornithologist in "The Birds," Hitchcock displays a fascination with sexual ambivalence. However, the mincing character in "Murder," as played by Esme Percy, is borderline offensive, even in the context of the period. His sexual orientation is more than suggested by the character's predilection to wear women's clothing, revel in applying makeup, and use effeminate gestures.
However, despite the film's flaws and limitations, the story of Sir John Menier's efforts to prove a young woman innocent of murder is fairly engrossing. As Sir John, a well-known actor and a member of the jury that convicts the accused woman, Herbert Marshall is stalwart as ever, and he cleverly tracks down clues and devises an intellectual trap for his prey. The rest of the cast has little to do but follow Hitchcock's direction, which is capable but not his finest. For Hitchcock students, "Murder" is essential, for other viewers, this early sound effort is generally entertaining, if a bit slowly paced and static visually.
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