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Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World (01/Nov/1930) - New Product: Murder




GOOD MYSTERY FILM! Produced and distributed by British International Pictures. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. From the play by Clemence Danes. Adapted by Alma Reville. Editor, Emile Iuelle. Camera. J. J. Cox. With Herbert Marshall, Norah Baring, Phyllis Kenstam, Edward Chapman, Miles Mander, Esme Percy, Donald Calthrop, Esme V. Chaplin, Amy Brandon Thomas, Joynson Powell, Marie Wright, S. J. Warmington, Hannah Jones. Release date, October 24, 1930. Footage, 9989.

This British International film, adapted most expertly by Alma Reville from Clemence Dane's stage play, "Enter Sir John," is as good a mystery thrill picture as they come. As seems to be the usual thing with the product of the Elstree studios in England, the cast is exceptionally fine, from the lead of Herbert Marshall as Sir John, actor and amateur detective, down to the most incidental part.

Marshall gives an excellent exhibition of self confidence in his role, and handles his lines with a restraint and perfection of diction which is seldom bettered on the talking screen. Norah Baring plays opposite in the feminine lead as the young actress in a roadshow company, in whose lodging house room another girl, also a member of the company, is found dead from the blow of a poker. Norah is found sitting at a table beside the body.

At the trial her only defense in support of a plea of not guilty is that she cannot remember what happened in the room after a certain moment. Sir John is the only individual on the jury who holds out for acquittal, but despite bis firm belief in the girl's innocence, he is overwhelmed by the arguments of the others. The actress is sentenced to be hanged.

Sir John embarks on a little amateur sleuthing sleuthing, and discovers the real murderer, another member of the company, in time to save the girl from paying the penalty for a crime she did not commit. The manner in which Sir John traps the suspect into betraying his guilt, and the odd way in which the murderer beats the law in the end provide an unusual conclusion and put real punch into a mystery thriller which is novel for its new angle.

The direction of Alfred Hitchcock is all that anyone could ask. Every motion and speech is pointed toward the climax, with little or no time wasted on unnecessary incidentals. Photography is good throughout, with several scenes easily rating a grade better than good.

Norah Baring does fully as able work as Herbert Marshall. Her part calls for a quiet, almost dazed reaction to the rapid events which have suddenly swept around her, and she performs admirably in the role. Her voice is low but very clear, which adds just that much to her performance.

An able cast, and fine adaptation and direction of a story which has at least one or two unusual twists for this type of mystery, make this film one of the most entertaining British International has sent over. There can be little doubt that American audiences will get a real kick out of it.

Charles S. Aaronson. New York City.