“Life permits a beautiful and unfortunate girl to go to the gallows– Unless art, for once, can bring its technique to bear!”
After helping to convict an aspiring actress (Norah Baring) of murder, well-known actor Sir John Menier (Herbert Marshall) becomes convinced of her innocence, and tries to hunt down the true culprit.
Response to Peary’s Review:
It’s difficult to gauge Peary’s response to this film: according to his review, he likes many of the scenes in the beginning and end, but insists that the “middle section” is “terribly slow”, and that the entire film is “too theatrical”. I disagree. Hitchcock is able to turn even the stagiest of interactions into interesting cinematic moments, and his use of sound, editing, lighting, and camera movement all provide early evidence of his brilliance. While this isn’t one of Hitchcock’s true masterpieces, it’s definitely an indication of what’s to come.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Marshall being pressured by his fellow jury members (a literal chorus of voices) into convicting Baring
- Detectives interrogating a troupe of actors as they enter and exit the stage
- Creative use of sound — for instance, in the scene where Baring’s conviction is being read by the judge, but the camera remains in the (nearly) empty jury room
- Effective use of humor in a murder mystery
- A handsome young Herbert Marshall
- Dramatic use of light and shadows
- Some truly haunting visuals
Yes. As one of Hitchcock’s first “talkies”, all film fanatics should be familiar with this movie.