Sunday, October 4, 2009

Murder! (Alfred Hitchcock) **1/2

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Herbert Marshall, Norah Baring, Edward Chapman, Miles Mander, Phyllis Konstam

Background: Hitchcock was a successful director by this point, with The Lodger and Blackmail doing very well in Britain. This was only Herbert Marshall's third film. The story was based on a play called Enter Sir John, and was Hitchcock's third talkie.

Story: A juror (Marshall) begins to have doubts over his guilty vote in what appeared to be an open and shut case, so he opens his own investigation to find out what really happened.

Thoughts: The first act of this film is a real treat, with some great tension built through the jury deliberations. And the casual nature that the jurors reach their guilty verdicts is rather chilling. Unfortunately, everything falls apart from there. Once the verdict is reached, Marshall begins a long and slow investigation with no suspense or tension whatsoever, feeling very much like a mediocre episode of Law & Order. The final twist is not properly set up, and just pops up out of nowhere with little dramatic buildup. Herbert Marshall is a solid lead, and it's easy to buy his determination to get to the bottom of the case, but it's just not exciting to watch him do it. This is another in a long line of early Hitchcock films that hint at his later brilliance, but contain too many flaws to be as highly regarded as his classics.

Postscript: Hitchcock would of course go on to become a Hollywood legend. Herbert Marshall would have a very successful career over the next two decades, with roles in such classics as Trouble in Paradise and The Razor's Edge.

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