6.3/10
28
4 user 1 critic

Design for Murder (1939)

Trunk Crime (original title)
A somewhat unbalanced college student kidnaps the leader of a group of students that has been constantly mocking and harassing him, and plans to bury him alive in a trunk.

Director:

Roy Boulting

Writers:

Reginald Denham (play), Edward Percy (play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Manning Whiley Manning Whiley ... Bentley
Barbara Everest Barbara Everest ... Ursula
Michael Drake Michael Drake ... Grierson
Hay Petrie ... Old Dan
Thorley Walters ... Huey Frazer
David Keir David Keir ... Quiney
Howard Douglas ... The landlord
Tom Gill Tom Gill ... Undergraduate
Lewis Stringer Lewis Stringer ... Hearty, Undergraduate
Ian Fulton Ian Fulton ... Undergraduate
Geoffrey Gabriel Geoffrey Gabriel ... Undergraduate
Eileen Bennett Eileen Bennett ... Eve
Pamela Sharpe Pamela Sharpe ... Annie
Charles Stevenson Charles Stevenson ... The porter
Patch Patch ... The Dog
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Storyline

A somewhat unbalanced college student kidnaps the leader of a group of students that has been constantly mocking and harassing him, and plans to bury him alive in a trunk.

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 November 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Design for Murder See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Allegedly filmed in only 12 days. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Claustrophobic thriller
22 February 2011 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

This is an odd little hybrid - a very early production by the Boulting brothers that starts off as a very effective piece of revenge/horror and then spends most of its second half running through various stratagems that attempt to reveal or conceal respectively the contents of the eponymous trunk. The final twist, given the preceding actions of the characters, is really a little too hard to credit, although it's not inherently impossible in the plot; one does get the impression that the script was attempting to milk its thrills for all that it was worth in two mutually incompatible directions.

However, on the whole it's pretty psychologically effective. Manning Whiley does a good job throughout most of the film as the nervy victim/protagonist, while Michael Drake is very good as his casual tormentor. Barbara Everest does well as the managing female who manages to get herself in over her head, and Hay Petrie makes an appearance in one of his many character roles.

And considering that the entire film was shot in twelve days on a low budget, and that it was the first feature-length picture (if barely that, at 50 minutes) that Roy and John Boulting had as yet produced, this is certainly a very promising debut; its favourable critical reception would help lead to the Boultings' first major production "Pastor Hall".


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