Crime and Punishment (1935) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
27 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Early performance by Lorre, dark film
blanche-218 May 2009
Josef von Sternberg directed this version of "Crime and Punishment," starring Peter Lorre, Edward Arnold, and Marian Marsh in 1935. It's an updating of the great novel, with Lorre as a man tortured by his own conscience.

It's a fairly dreary-looking affair, quite dark, with impressive use of shadows. The most interesting aspect of the way it was filmed to me is how Lorre's small stature is emphasized, as if the staircase, for instance, was over-sized. The incomparably beautiful Marian Marsh is the prostitute who tries to help him, and she gives a very gentle and heartfelt performance. Edward Arnold is the bombastic head of the murder investigation of the pawnbroker (Mrs. Patrick Campbell) - he's plenty scary. I don't blame Lorre for being a complete wreck.

Lorre is excellent playing a character who vacillates between arrogance one minute and fear the next. Definitely in the top ten of unusual faces and voices in film history, his hooded eyes show the torture the character is suffering.

Definitely worth seeing for von Sternberg's direction, Lorre and Marsh.
30 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
remarkable film
bfrostaing11 May 2013
I read the book so long ago that I'd forgotten many details, which was fine - I watched it as a rainy afternoon film presented by Ted Turner, and it is indeed a Turner Classic Movie.

Slammed by many, it is in fact very well written, extremely well acted, and a revelation of Peter Lorre's range. He carries the film brilliantly. It's essentially a long dialog between Raskolnikov, a brilliant, impoverished writer on crime, and Inspector Porphyry, nicely interrupted by Raskolnikov's thoughts on crime, interludes with his family, and his love-life. Made on a low budget, it proves yet again that money isn't everything. Intense, excellent acting, direction, editing and camera work do the job, as with so many low budget European films. It's about people and ideas, not special effects and stardom.

What you get is a minor classic with no empty spaces and nothing extra. The narrative drive is cumulative and very human. Deprived of Dietrich, von Sternberg has no problem, and gets the best out of Edward Arnold and Marian Marsh (and everyone else) as well as Lorre. No weak spots, all class. It's also the perfect demonstration of how to find an excellent film in a great novel: by not trying to include everything, but going to the heart of the matter.
12 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Peter Lorre, Edward Arnold & Marian Marsh Were Fantastic!
whpratt113 March 2003
This 1935 film of "Crime and Punishment" was one of Peter Lorre's greatest acting role, he had such great talent and he used every facial expression in the book as the guilt ridden suspect along with his famous soft boiled eyes! Edward Arnold took a back seat in this film, however, Marian Marsh gave a good performance and she looked radiant throughout the picture. These actors in 1935 made this film tops on my list of films. Peter Lorre like many actors were type cast and never were able to reach the high level of their talents.
36 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
As a film adaptation
Local Hero14 July 2009
I have spent my entire adult life reading and teaching the works of Dostoevsky, and as such I often approach film adaptations with a great deal of trepidation. Cinematic adaptations of ambitious Russian novels inherently involve a tremendous amount of compromise and reduction. At worst, they become embarrassing comic-book imitations of the original, and, at best, they become representative distillations, provocative fragments.

If one wants to see the best attempt at the latter, one should see the 1970 Kulidzhanov film version, which hews as close as possible to the original spirit and themes of the novel.

This 1935 von Sternberg version does not fall neatly into either category. It certainly makes some wrenching changes to the original-- not just in terms of plot details (such changes are inevitable for the cinematic form), but even to the thematic spirit of the original (Roderick receiving such high honors at the outset; Roderick entering a such a strident Napoleonic phase _after_ the crime; the momentary 180-degree reversal in Sonia's final speech), but what does come through successfully is a kind of gestalt rumination on the original novel. If Dostoevsky's novel was an exquisitely perfect, ambitious symphony, this film is a jazz rhapsody on the theme of the book; it borrows and rearranges motifs and creates its own new song, a song nothing like the original in particulars, but a worthwhile song on its own merits.

The film certainly seems to make full use of the serendipitous similarity in appearance between Lorre and Napoleon in his most famous portraits (Lorre even hams it up by sliding his hand under his vest at one point, which is the stereotypical Napoleonic gesture). And the decision to set the story in no particular city, it seems to me, was a judicious one, as it eliminates much of the painful artificiality that inevitably comes when Anglophone films attempt to portray Russian society.

In short, I do think this is a worthwhile film if it is judged as a creation unto its own-- not the novel per se, but a kind of Hollywood, proto-noir inspired by the great book.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Nice updating of the classic novel
MarcoAntonio19 August 2005
Columbia Pictures updated Fydor Dostoyevsky's classic novel "Crime and Punishment" from its original era and set it during the bleak years of the Great Depression. The updating works due to an excellent director and a superb cast. Josef von Sternberg guided the production along with his usual flair, making "Crime and Punishment" an entertaining motion picture. In the film, Roderick Raskolnikov (Peter Lorre) murders a haggish, old pawnbroker and soon discovers that he hasn't committed the perfect crime. Inspector Porfiry (Edward Arnold) is on to him and starts a cat and mouse game with Roderick that nearly drives Roderick insane. Also, a sympathetic prostitute, Sonya (Marian Marsh), falls in love with Roderick and begs him to give himself up and face the punishment that is coming to him. Although clearly a B-Film (notice that there are not many extras in the cast), "Crime and Punishment" is a good example of how an entertaining film can be made on a limited budget.
31 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Extremely Well Done
Michael_Elliott11 June 2009
Crime and Punishment (1935)

*** (out of 4)

Dostoyevsky's classic novel turned into a classic film by the legendary von Sternberg. In the film Peter Lorre plays a brilliant but poverty stricken criminalologist who resorts to murder when his mom and sister are threatened with being homeless. The crime seems to go off without a hitch until his conscience begins to haunt him and his fear of a detective (Edward Arnold) starts to cause more panic. This is an extremely impressive version of the novel and also features a terrific performance by Lorre but the real beauty here is the vision by von Sternberg. His stamp is all over this film and it's easy to see early on with the beautiful lighting, which creates some wonderful atmosphere and real tension. The way the cinematography picks up each and every shadow just makes the tension in the story build and build and this is especially true right after the murder when Lorre panics and tries to get away without being seen. This entire segments contains some great suspense and the director gets most of the credit. I found Lorre's performance to be one of the greatest of his career because he's actually got quite a bit too do here. Not only must he play a genius but he also must show fear, panic and even a comic tone. When Lorre's character loses his fear it turns into some comic touches and he delivers on all the notes. Arnold turns in another strong performance and his laid back approach is perfect opposite Lorre's breakdown. The one weak spot in the film for me is the final act, which seems to be drawn out too long due to Lorre's relationship with a poor woman (Marian Marsh). Mrs. Patrick Campbell is downright wicked in her role of the murdered pawnbroker. With a little bit of editing this movie could have been a real masterpiece of the genre but as it stands, this is a perfectly entertaining "B" movie that has plenty going for it.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (Josef von Sternberg, 1935) ***
MARIO GAUCI5 July 2009
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 [1931]'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.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Greatest "Detective" Novel of All?
theowinthrop1 May 2005
Fyodor Dostoeyevski is, without a doubt, one of the greatest novelists of his native Russia, of 19th Century Europe, and of world literature. That said, he is also a pain in the ass to read. If you are into his views of self-sacrifice and mysticism, and of redemption through intense, sometimes meaningless suffering, you can't find anyone else like him. If you also like anti-Western slavophilia, with more than a dollop of anti-Semitism, he's your guy. These aspects appear in his Russian contemporary Tolstoi too, but Count Leo had a more universal view of forgiveness and brotherhood than Fyodor ever had. Therefore Tolstoi makes his occasional snide comments, but they are quickly dropped - not intensively developed. With these serious reservations said, Dostoeyevski remains monumental. Most people recall him for two novels: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. Neither of the two novels were ever successfully made into U.S. films, despite a great director in this 1935 version of the former novel, and a grade "A" cast and production in the 1958 version of the latter that starred Yul Brynner and Maria Schell. From what I have seen a Masterpiece Theatre version of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT in the 1970s was far closer to the novel than Von Sternberg's 1935 version. But Von Sternberg, working with Columbia Pictures, did not have as good a budget (and certainly could not make a four hour film).

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT has been called the first psychological detective novel, and the best. It is not a who-done-it in the spirit of Dashiell Hamnett's THE THIN MAN. It is more like a Columbo episode (and Columbo's character is obviously modeled on the laid back, wise Detective Inspector Porphiry - who patiently allows Raskolnikov to give himself away and up). Dostoeyevski lets us see the killing of the old pawn broker and her sister, and understand the twisted "philosophical altruism" that Raskolnikov uses to commit his crime. It is a murder for social purposes - get rid of the leech like money lender/pawn broker, grab her money, and use it to aid those truly unfortunate in society. Had the murder been committed quickly with only the pawn broker killed, the absurd logic might have worked. Instead, because the sister of the victim sees the killing, Raskolnikov has to kill her too for self protection. From that time forward his philosophical base begins to crash. Also he discovers that the material answer of money is not enough to help the poor or those he comes to love. As such CRIME AND PUNISHMENT is (no real slap at Conan Doyle) light-years away in effectiveness from THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. And watching the Russian police procedural in the novel, as Porphiry helps whittle away at Raskolnikov's iron core of beliefs is quite good too.

Peter Lorre gives an affecting performance as the killer, one more role in a chain beginning with "M" that would continue for much of his admirable career. It must have been well received publicly. The Ritz Brothers spoofed his performance in one of their films. Arnold is fine as Porphiry, who has seen all the murder types (and can quickly find their weak spot). Here, his best moment is when another lesser suspect confesses unexpectedly just as Lorre seemed about to confess. It leaves Porphiry perplexed and troubled, as the confession has been heard by witnesses (including a smart aleck Lorre), and Porphiry realizes an innocent man has possibly put his life in danger by such an act. There are some good supporting touches too, especially seeing Mrs. Patrick Campbell in her last performance on screen as the pawnbroker, a dried up, malevolent figure that one does not waste too much pity on (again, if she had been the only victim Raskolnikov's philosophical point would have been correct). Cuts due to budget and time considerations ruined several parts - Douglas Dumbrille as a married man who wants Lorre's sister (Lorre can't stand him) and who helps bring Lorre to book (for personal reasons) had a larger part in the novel, including suicide. That is not in the film.

With all it's budget restraints though, it is a good introduction to the great novel and I recommend it.
14 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sternberg self-destructs
Anne_Sharp24 July 2001
Inconsolable over his enforced separation from Marlene Dietrich, Sternberg took a passive-aggressive approach to this assignment from Paramount, sabotaging it by neglect at every turn. Given a star performer with infinitely more to offer than Dietrich, the fresh-from-the-continent Peter Lorre, Sternberg chose to work against rather than with him, squashing his attempts to create a coherent interpretation of Raskolnikov and photographing him to look as fat as possible, while mournfully doing his best to make Marian Marsh look Dietrichlike. In squandering the raw materials given to him, from which an ordinary director could have concocted at least a very respectable "Crime and Punishment," Sternberg not only shafted Paramount but did significant damage to Lorre's career (this was meant to have been the prestigious American debut he deserved but never got) as well as his own.
25 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great cast, mediocre film
johno-2121 January 2008
I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival as part of their Archival Treasures series. This was shown in part because Maraian Marsh had been a Palm Springs area resident. This film marked the USA debut of noted Europena actor Peter Lorre, who after breaking out from the German cinema had previously did Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew to Much and Freund's Mad Love in the UK. Josef Von Sternberg directs Joseph Anthony's screenplay of Dostoyevsky's classic 1866 detective novel. Lorre stars as Roderick Raskolnikov, a criminal justice whiz kid whose writings are widely read and respected by the criminal justice community at all professional levels from police inspectors to professors. Raskolnikov finds himself living in a flop house, never fulfilling his talents and angry with a publication that quoted his works but failed to mention his name. He also finds himself falling in love with his apartment neighbor Sonya (Marian Marsh) and in a game of wits with the local police inspector Pordiry (Edward Arnold) over the murder of pawn shop proprietor. Gene Lockhart is in support as Raskolnikov's potential brother-in-law Lushin and noted character actress Elisabeth Risdon plays Raskolnikov's mother. Proliffic Columbia studio Cinematographer Lucien Ballard photographs and Columbia's long time art director Stepehn Goosen is set decorator. Von Sternberg came out of the silents in a career that lasted into the 1950's and was at the height of his career at this time having been nominated for an Oscar twice for Best Director for Morocco in 1930 and Shanghai Express in 1932. Nice acting from the cast especially Arnold. Marsh's role never takes off with no fault to her. Lorre starts out great with a dramatic flare punctuated by comedic overtones but his character loses steam halfway through the film due to a script that somehow runs out of gas. The first half of this film is clever and well done but bogs down and becomes almost cartoonish by films end. It became so campy that the audience was laughing at parts that weren't meant to be funny. It was great to see a mid thirties film on the big screen and as a curious historical document with Lorre early in his career but there is nothing special about this film and I can only give it a 6.0 out of 10.
13 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Inspector? Inspect this!"
utgard1423 December 2015
Peter Lorre stars in this fine adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novel, directed by Josef von Sternberg. Lorre plays a criminology student who murders an evil pawnbroker. He appears to have gotten away with it but his feelings of guilt and a police inspector's suspicions may do him in. It's a compelling crime drama with a great cast and creative direction from von Sternberg. Lorre gives a dynamic turn full of highs and lows. The highs are shades of his "M" greatness and the lows are when he gets a little campy. Edward Arnold makes a fun foil for him. The rest of the cast includes Marian Marsh, Elisabeth Risdon, Douglass Dumbrille, Gene Lockhart, and stage actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell in one of her few film roles as the pawnbroker, a completely unlikable character if there ever was one. Von Sternberg's direction is very polished by 1935 standards. His beautiful close-ups of Marian Marsh are enough to make anyone fall in love with her. Despite some pacing issues and a few oddly placed attempts at comedy, it's a strong effort from all involved. The usual 'book vs movie' complaints apply, of course, but none of them are deal-breakers to me. If you're a fan of the director or stars, it's a must-see.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Low-budget version of the Dostoyevsky novel with Peter Lorre...
Neil Doyle5 May 2009
Josef von Sternberg's touch looms over CRIME AND PUNISHMENT--the dramatic lighting of shadowy photography, the Dietrich-like close-ups of its female star--but while he has captured the mood of the story with his photography, the film is flawed in many ways.

PETER LORRE's performance is uneven, his actions sometimes implausible given that he's supposed to be an expert author of an essay on crime. His sudden bursts of temper to suggest that his conscience is nagging him are almost on the point of burlesque. Von Sternberg should have taken more care in directing Lorre--as much care as he took in lighting MARIAN MARSH for the camera. She looks radiant but is just so-so in performance as the street harlot. ELISABETH RISDON is well cast as Lorre's weak mother.

MRS. PATRICK CAMPBELL makes a formidable pawnbroker and an unsympathetic victim of Lorre's crime. EDWARD ARNOLD, who gets top billing, makes a police inspector who is more jovial than crafty with a Santa Claus laugh that would have served him better if he were playing comedy rather than psychological drama.

And yet, the story remains a compelling one and the moody atmosphere with its Germanic expressionistic photography is bound to keep a viewer interested in the proceedings.

Summing up: Could have been a much better version of a tortured soul with more time spent on developing a plausible central character.
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Criminally superficial?
evening129 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This very compelling film nevertheless leaves the impression it's "Crime and Punishment for Dummies." Peter Lorre and crew definitely keep your attention. Even my 8-year-old son wanted to see what would happen. Yet you feel you're viewing a precis.

The stage actress who played the truly contemptible murder victim was a marvel to behold. And I savored every twist and turn in the cat-and-mouse game between Peter Lorre and the Tim Russert look-a-like police inspector. Less satisfying were the stereotypical stuffed shirt who wanted to marry Lorre's sister and the (albeit adorable) heart-of-gold prostitute.

The police inspector makes the interesting observation in this film that sending an innocent man to Siberia amounts to a worse killing than fatally beating a loathsome pawnbroker. Much is made of the contention that one's conscience can be the worst prison. Except for psychopaths, I guess.

This movie's a little superficial but definitely worth seeing.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Better than the book.
Michael Pendragon3 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Director Josef von Sternberg once said that the best stories come from brief sources like newspaper articles. His condensation of Dostoyevsky's cumbersome novel into an 88 minute film, bears his statement out. I've always felt that Crime and Punishment would have worked better as a short story than a novel. There's neither enough plot nor philosophical speculation to justify its length. The film is a visual treat (it's a Sternberg) and moves along at a fast enough pace to keep interest from lagging -- even when the end is inevitable from the outset (courtesy of the Production Code). But the film's greatest strength is in its actors. Edward Arnold, the too beautiful to be real Marian Marsh, and especially Peter Lorre. Mr. Lorre is riveting in his depiction of Raskolnikov's journey from poverty driven desperation, to fear, to arrogance, to his ultimate repentance and redemption. It's not only one of his finest performances, but one of the cinema's all time greats.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
All This Commotion Over a Nasty Pawnbroker.
Robert J. Maxwell4 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
What a curious film. Peter Lorre is Roderick Raskolnikov, an impoverished writer of magazine articles in what appears to be 1930s Russia. His whole family is in financial trouble. His sister Antonya is about to marry a pompous blowhard for his money. Lorre can't pay his meager rent. He's already pawned the watch passed on to him by his father. What to do, what to do? Then it comes to him. Simply murder the old lady pawnbroker. Nobody likes her anyway, stingy old crow. And, after all, Lorre is an intellectual who has written a theory of crime resembling Nietzsche's. There are ordinary men who must play by the rules, and there are extraordinary men who can't be judged by the usual standards. Guess which kind Lorre considers himself. His heroes are Napolean and Beethoven.

So Lorre visits the old lady at night and whacks her over the head with a poker, steals her stash and hides it under a small boulder. Nothing to it. On top of that, his editor gives him a promotion and a considerable raise and Lorre begins to get cocky, what with his new suit and all that. He liberates his family from poverty and throws the churlish old suitor out of the apartment, allowing his sister Antonya to link up with her true love. And he himself meets a young and beautiful whore and begins to slip her cash as well as other gifts.

But then Lorre is called in to Police Headquarters to meet Inspector Porfiry, Edward Arnold. Arnold finds Lorre waiting for him in the anteroom, shivering with fear. But Arnold isn't interested in Lorre because of the murder. Not at all. He wants a friendly chat with Lorre because of Lorre's recent article on criminality.

Lorre is at first wary, then superior, then sweaty with guilt, giving himself away in iotas of implications. Examples: (1) When Lorre first meets Arnold, they are interrupted when a suspect of the murder is brought it and accused. At the mention of "murder" Lorre faints. Arnold begins circling his prey, all the while denying he has any interest in Lorre as a suspect. Example: Arnold visits Lorre in his flat and, chatting jovially, lights up a cigarette, goes to the iron stove, bends over and flicks the match inside. "Yes," Arnold announces. "I'm as certain that you're innocent as I am that THERE IS NO POKER IN THIS ROOM." This sort of insinuation, this cat-and-mouse game, is in some ways the most interesting part of the plot. It's like Lieutenant Columbo, except that here the murderer is plagued by a guilty conscience.

Lorre becomes obsessed with the crime he's committed. He can't seem to get it out of his head. He begins to misinterpret the innocent remarks of others. When his girl friend, the hapless hooker, Marian Marsh, begins to read the Bible story of Lazarus coming back from the dead, he hears the line about "the rising of the stone" and becomes enraged because it seems to hint that the hiding place of his loot will be discovered. He's forgotten all about "Lazarus come forth," which is just as well because Lazarus came fifth and lost the job.

I can't remember the details of the novel all that well, nor all the characters and their characteristics. I DO remember that Antonya was Dunya in the translation I read. I also remember that the murder weapon was not a poker but an ax. (Yuck.) And that Roskolnikov killed not just the mean pawnbroker but another woman who appeared on the scene, though I might be wrong about that. And in the novel, or rather in my memory of the novel, Inspector Porfiry doesn't just come out and nail Roskolnikov with, "You murdered her and you're going to pay for it." Instead, Porfiry gently prods Roskolnikov into asking, "Well, who murdered her?" This allows Porfiry to gape in amazement and reply, "Why YOU did, Roskolnikov." I'm not sure why this movie isn't more gripping than it is. Directed by the famous von Sternberg. Maybe it's the casting. Roskolnikov is a young, starving student, thin and ragged, not the chubby little Peter Lorre. Lorre had been so successful as the murderer in "M" that maybe someone thought he would be good for a second go at a similar role. And Edward Arnold is not the Inspector Porfiry who edges crablike into Roskolnikov's life. Arnold is an intimidating and domineering blowhard. The confusion and puzzlement that came so easily to Lieutenant Columbo is not Arnold's strong suit.
4 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Classics Illustrated version of Dostoyevsky.
Mozjoukine6 April 2003
Arriving in the unlikely environment of action B movie studio Columbia, Von Sternberg, the ultimate aesthete, either by choice or circumstance fronted this project that was unlikely for him and for the company.

He manages some striking images - the faceless rank of students from which Lorre emerges, the third story pawn broker's door which he furtively re-visits, the river reflection of Marsh's home, the tacky studio decors are enlivened by decoration (the stacked books in Lorre's room) and the attractive use of lighting (throwing curtain pattern over the action or rimming Marsh's hair). Even this decorative panache betrays it's creator at times - Painter Mark's arm raised awkwardly from his crouching position to follow a screen diagonal.

The uninspired adaptation (the only one to preserve the Svedrigaylov character, represented murkily effectively by Dumbrille), conventional technique, serial sound score and erratic casting hold things back.

Lorre is the screen's most menacing Raskolnikov. You expect him to produce a clasp knife and attack anyone rather than engage in philosophical debate. Arnold earns his top billing, turning Porphyry into Doctor Hibbard, but in a league table of interpretations of character he comes equal third with Warren William under Harry Baur and Frank Silvera
4 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Public service homicide
bkoganbing29 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Dostoevsky's tragic protagonist Roderick Raskalnikov got a man who was born to play it cast in the lead of the film that Columbia Pictures was putting out. Peter Lorre who would soon carve out a respectable career playing all kinds of unusual characters is our lead here, fresh over from the continent where he was the lead in Fritz Lang's M and also in the cast of Alfred Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.

We've heard the superior man theories all before be it from Nietzche all the way to Leopold and Loeb. There are just some folks that the ordinary rules don't apply. Usually the folks who commit those thoughts to paper see themselves as those kind of people. Can you imagine if those famous child killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb had instead of killing innocent Bobby Franks had killed someone like the mean and cruel old hag pawnbroker like Lorre does here? Or some noted Chicago gangster? What would our view of them be, what would it have been back then in 1923?

Lorre is a brilliant young criminology student whose work in fact has been published. Not that he's made any big money from it, in fact his landlady is ready to give him the heave ho. But in worse straights are his mother Elizabeth Risdon and sister Tala Birrell are in. They are in deep debt to Mrs. Patrick Campbell a horrible and hideous pawnbroker. When he tries to intercede for his family, Campbell says no and Lorre just loses it and bashes her head in.

By the way in the novel Raskalnikov does her in with an ax and then kills another woman who walked in on the deed. With the new Code in place this was a way of gaining more sympathy for Lorre's character.

The bulk of the movie is almost Columbo like. Police inspector Edward Arnold just bores in on Lorre who despite all his protestations to the contrary really does have a conscience. Still because Campbell was not liked, it's Siberia for him as opposed to noose. Arnold is one relentless upholder of the law.

Back in my Crime Victims Board days when we had to determine the innocence of the victim the term public service homicide came into vogue regarding several victims whose loss was no loss to society because of their criminal activities. I think Crime And Punishment takes that view here.

A good but rather softened version of Crime And Punishment is this film.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Lorre Steals Every Scene!
Hitchcoc21 July 2015
I've been entranced with Peter Lorre from the first. Unfortunately, his quirkiness typecast him as a threatening, unstable personage. LIke the character in "M," he never seemed to express joy. Unless he was drunk, he never seemed to smile. In this film, an updated version of the great Dostoevsky work, he plays the brilliant student murderer Raskolnikov, who has done in a harsh old pawnbroker. She is evil, but her worth in the eyes of God is as his. His family is being manipulated by a cad because they have no money, and so in order to appease this man, he kills the old woman. They portray him as an expert in criminology which sets him against a police detective, bent on proving his guilt. The punishment isn't a jail sentence but rather the intense guilt he experiences. This guilt manifests itself from the second he brings down a fireplace poker on the head of woman. This is well done, even though it can't match for a second the incredible book upon which it is based. Lorre and Edward Arnold parry and thrust mentally and this makes the film worth seeing, even though it is diminished by a soft Hollywood ending and some religious mumbo jumbo.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Disappointing Hollywood Treatment
jacksflicks20 July 2015
Along with "M" and "The Face Behind the Mask," this Raskolnikov is Peter Lorre's finest rôle. Unfortunately, it's not supported by the rest of the production. The stylized von Sternberg lighting and the Madonna look he gives Marian Marsh (Dietrich stand-in?) don't really suit the grim narrative.

Edward Arnold is woefully miscast as Inspector Porfiry. He's ponderous and bombastic, in his usual manner. Aside from Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the rest of the cast play their stock Hollywood characters. The only Russian about them is "the long-winded names by which they address each other." (Kael)

Coincidentally, a great French "Crime and Punishment" was made the same year. Harry Baur as Porfiry is sensational, and if he had been cast as Porfiry in the von Sternberg version, then it would have caught fire.

I give it a 7 for Lorre.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Solid, if not great, film adaptation of the Dostoevsky classic
TheLittleSongbird20 July 2015
Cramming a mammoth book, like Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, into an hour and a half is not an easy job, but while it does fall short of being a great film Josef von Sternberg's 1935 version does ably with the adapting and makes for good entertainment in its own right.

Understandably, it is very condensed with things omitted or introduced but quickly skimmed over, but the basic story, the basic themes and the psychological tension are very much intact and effectively so. The film's low budget does show at times, in some less than imaginative sets (time and place is not always very clear) and some editing that could have done with a little more tightness, and while omissions were inevitable the film could easily have been even better with a longer length to give the story more depth than there was (not that there wasn't already, just that for a story of this amount of complexity there could have been more). Marian Marsh's prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold character did feel underwritten, there is much more to the character in the book (here, like the similarly blandly played Grilov- who is affected even worse-, the character is reduced to a stereotype), and her performance did come over as bland despite her radiant looks. The romantic subplot very wisely didn't overshadow the film, but the scenes it features in don't quite have the heart and warmth they could have done, and the final third is a touch too drawn out for that reason.

However, despite the low-budget and that it's not a beautiful-looking film, Crime and Punishment has many parts where it still looks good. The lighting is appropriately shadowy, adding much to the atmosphere and psychological tension of the film, and the semi-Expressionist cinematography is wonderfully dark and striking. Von Sternberg directs with cracking efficiency and knack for suspense. Crime and Punishment is hauntingly scored and the script keeps to the tone and substance of Dostoevsky's writing style, the interplay between Raskolnikov and Porfiry is nail-biting in its tension and entertainment value. The story still is incredibly compelling and tautly paced and structured, even with the condensation this is classic Dostoevsky and his style still shines.

Peter Lorre could be as over-theatrical in places, but actually it is more subtle than some of his other work. Raskolnikov's menacing characteristics are really quite haunting, and his anguish is even more convincing and very powerfully and movingly portrayed. Edward Arnold is similarly perfectly cast, he is an absolute joy to watch and gets even more enjoyable and intimidating as Raskolnikov feels more guilt and paranoia after being laid-back initially. Of the solid supporting cast, Mrs. Patrick Campbell stands out, in a formidably wicked performance as a loathsome character that you feel absolutely no sympathy or loss towards her when she's killed off.

All in all, an entertaining and atmospherically effective film but could have been greater. 7/10 Bethany Cox
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not the greatest adaptation, but carries a great performance from Peter Lorre
tomgillespie200225 February 2012
Classic Russian literature is a wealth of psychological intentions, brimming with historical depravity and conversely elegance. Poverty and degradation was rife during the 18th and 19th centuries. This depth of psychological characterisation can most certainly be found in one of Russia's greatest writers, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and particularly in (in my opinion) his greatest work, Crime and Punishment which was published in instalments in 1866. (This publication is also one of my favourite books of all time).

The book (and of course this 1935 film) follows Raskolnikov (Peter Lorre), a lauded graduate of criminology, is witness to the depravity and selfishness of the culture around him. After seeing a young woman, Sonya (Marion Marsh), being ripped off by an old female pawnbroker (Mrs Patrick Campbell), he sees it as his duty to remedy the problem by murdering her. With his credentials as a master criminologist, Raskolikov believes he can commit the perfect crime. Unfortunately his actions do not go as he had planned, and the time spent after the murder he is overcome with paranoia.

It seems appropriate that this film was produced in the 1930's, during the Great Depression. The poverty and hypocrisy redolent in that decade were found in the Russia of the novel. Peter Lorre plays a fantastically paranoiac, and sweaty character, his facial contortions perfect instruments of doubt, scared awkwardness, and justified anguish. Raskolikov's path leads him to the chief of police, Porfiry (Edward Arnold), and his guilt begins to unravel.

This film was an incredibly low-budget affair, which hampers the director, Josef von Sternberg's, usual visual flares (in films such as The Blue Angel (1930) and Shanghai Express (1932)). This film was produced under Columbia Pictures, as Sternberg's previous employers, Paramount, had ended his contract with them. However, whilst it is technically flawed, and is largely unimaginative in the art department, it is still a beautiful film to watch. Certainly not the greatest adaptation of Dostoevsky, it does carry a great performance from Lorre, and packs in some of the psychological tension produced from the narrative.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Film Adapation Of A Brilliant Novel Falls Flat
Jem Odewahn25 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This isn't a very good adaptation of 'Crime and Punishment'. Admittedly, budget restraints hampered the film, so we are left with an overall unsatisfying product. Still, Stenberg's film holds interest because of Lorre's and it's original subject matter.

The atmosphere is one thing that is handled well by Stenberg. Appropriately dark and gritty, it feels right. But it's not right. Lorre is ultimately miscast as regretful murderer Raskolnikov (But who else would they have got for the job In 1935?). The pivotal role of Sonia is played weakly by Marian Marsh. Stenberg seems to be bemoaning the loss of Dietrich by trying to make his leading lady into a clone of the glamour lady. It doesn't work, Marsh's screen presence is too weak and there is no disguising her 'Americanness'.

The plot is fascinating because it is pure Dostoyesky genius. As the film is relatively short, most of the major thematic elements are quickly skipped over. Some are left out completely. Yet the general concept of Dostoyesky's psychological classic still remains, and that's the most interesting thing about this film.

One must raise a smile at how Sonya's 'profession' is passed over in this film, because of the influence of that annoying Hayes Code.

3 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The punishment is in the watching.
st-shot3 June 2013
This rather static and flat telling of Doestevski's classic novel is a turgid affair from the get go. Peter Lorre's Raskanikov is moodily over the top throughout while Joseph Von Sternberg's direction moves his characters listlessly through hazy sets that resemble abandoned buildings. The real crime in this picture is its construction.

Raskonikov graduates at the top of his class being singled out for his uncanny ability to deduce with superior insight. It does not translate into a well paying job however and he is soon off to the vile pawnbroker to keep his family above water. At the shop he encounters a streetwalker,getting her fair share of abuse from the pawnbroker and a friendship ensues. Raskonikov furious of the inequity between his decent friend and the well heeled harridan decides to off her. Confident that his superior intelligence will keep him from getting caught he goes through with it but comes up against a worthy adversary inspector Poriphy and the battle of wits begins. Raskonikov is also fighting on a second front with his conscience.

Without meal ticket Marlene and big studio Paramount's production values director Josef Von Sternberg's future got a good look at it with this stilted interpretation of minimalist set decoration and haphazard lighting. With the exception of a few scenes isolating Lorre this early master of light and shadow goes from artist to house painter with drab tableaux in a fog. Lorre is all over the place and his erratic lead lurches to and fro while a becalmed inspector, effectively performed by Edward Arnold, gives him more than enough rope to seal his fate. The underrated Marian Marsh as Sonya also shines but with Lorre chewing scenery in large bites and Von Sternberg without his Paramount perks Crime and Punishment has you doing time.
2 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Forgotten and forgettable
jakob133 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Eighty years have past since Von Sternberg's 'Crime and Punishment' was projected on the screen. New York's newest Art picture house, Metrograph on the edge of Chinatown,has seen fit to show it on a Sunday at 1 p.m. Dostoyevsky is a tricky writer to bring to the screen. And Von Sternberg tried and failed. The film creaks and it has a script that is more pulp than good fiction. Yet, it has an excellent cast: Peter Lorre, Marian Marsh, the forgotten Edward Arnold as the police chief and Gene Lockhart as the pinch nosed suitor. Douglas Dumbrill, better known as villain in endless film, plays a contrite lover. And then there's Mrs. Patrick Campbell as the pawnbroker Lorre is wonderful as Raskolnikov, as the brilliant criminologist who thinks he can commit the perfect crime. The script has no sparkle, it is a wonder if he could get away with swatting a fly. Arnold as the relentless hound of justice is as cool as he can be. (A more gritty Arnold is found in the adaption of Hammett's 'Glass Key'.) The symbolism is heavy handed: Lorre has a Napoleon complex and a softer more human side as an admirer of Beethoven. Historically, the film has a point in an age that was witnessing the rise of fascism in Germany: the superman that can do and get away seemingly with anything he undertakes. (Today it is the billionaires of Silicon Valley who take pride in being superior to us mere mortals, with out consequence.) The camera is almost always in close up, the mood is dark and yet Lorre arrogant as he is swings from bathos to elation. And of course the moral of the novel as of the film is crime doesn't pay. Lorre is redeemed through a not convincing a Lazarus risen from the tomb of crime...and at the end his eyes light up and he lifts them to heaven as though forgiven of his crime even though he is going to Siberia, and what's more he's found love. Organ music please as the film fades out. Von Sternberg fans might want to see a film that does him little glory.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews