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Yorkshire Post (05/Aug/1930) - Alfred Hitchcock's Success



Alfred Hitchcock's Success

Let us turn now, by way of comparison, to a new British film — "Murder," directed by Alfred Hitchcock for British International, and trade-shown last week. This adaptation of "Enter Sir John," the novel by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson, also deals with crime, but the film leaves you with a convincing impression of real people involved in quite possible situations.

Did Diana Baring really kill Mrs. Druce, her fellow-member of the second-rate touring company? Sir John Menier, the famous actor-manager, is on the jury that convicts her, but he is not satisfied, and he at last succeeds in tracking down the real culprit. There may be melodramatic moments in the film version, but there is no rosy haze and no sham sentiment.

Mr. Hitchcock long ago proved himself the most gifted of British directors, and "Blackmail" showed that he could handle a talkie every bit as well as a silent picture. "Murder" (I prefer the original title of the novel) is much longer and fuller than "Blackmail," but no less brilliant. Once more we can enjoy Mr. Hitchcock's remarkable gift for making every scene and every glimpse say something. His camera is as resourceful as in the days of silence— that feeling which the talkie used to give us of being anchored in a narrow room is entirely overcome.

Long — But Rich.

Sometimes, I think, he pauses too long over details — particularly over his satirical touches. The scene in which the needy stage-manager and his wife go to lunch at Sir John's West End apartment is extremely amusing, but the amount of footage given to it holds up the action. Still, Mr. Hitchcock's eye for idiosyncrasies of character and his command over so many levels of English life are a great asset. "Murder" is a long film, but so richly packed with material that not for a moment did I find it dull.

The acting is on a level with the direction. Herbert Marshall — a new recruit from the stage — has exactly the right urbanity for Sir John; Edward Chapman is first-rate as the little stage-manager; Edward Percy — another stage recruit — is equally effective as a trapeze artist; and Miss Norah Baring, in her short but difficult part as the suspected girl, shows that Anthony Asquith was quite right when he discovered her and gave her her first chance as the seamstress in "Underground."

Nor is there any weakness in the production or in the settings. Here we have a home-made film which attempts to do no more than tell a mystery story, but which does its job with complete success. Indeed, the wealth of vitality displayed in the handling of this British picture makes the American efficiency of "Raffles" seem oddly stereotyped, oddly thin.