For the 11th film review of our Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon, here’s a review of Murder (1930) done by my blogathon partner, Zoe from Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginning Blogger.
Let’s see what she thought of this movie!
SYNOPSIS: A juror in a murder trial, after voting to convict, has second thoughts and begins to investigate on his own before the execution. – via IMDB
Murder! is a movie that seems to have mixed reviews, and I am not sure why. I actually rather enjoyed this film. While it is not fantastic, it is a decent earlier entry from Alfred Hitchcock, and kept me involved. Truly, he has far better films out there, but this is one of his better earlier offerings.
I was hoping for a little more in the courtroom (I am a sucker for courtroom dramas and all that, so what), so I was relatively disappointed when the entire prosecution and defence was laid out within two minutes or something ridiculous. There were times when it almost looked as though humour were trying to be brought into the movie (like the jury swivelling from the speaker to the accused the whole time) that just didn’t gel so much with the rest of the story. Irrespective of, a lot of the humour that was attempted seemed to be derived from the jury scenes.
I thought Sir John Menier (Herbert Marshall) caved pretty quickly under pressure. Nevertheless, his investigation begins rather quickly, and he gets in contact with the relevant people and begins his investigation. What I liked about him is his reasoning behind his intended verdict of not guilty was not about Diana Baring (Norah Baring) being young or beautiful or anything like that, but because, though all the evidence condemned her beyond any doubt, his gut was niggling him. The jury presented some decent arguments, and the psychological one that was put forth by one juror was quite good, and I wished that it had been explored more, but it was not, and we were back out with a guilty verdict.
Sir John looking into it was admirable, as one could imagine having to render a death sentence verdict cannot be easy, especially if you were not willing to vote for it and ultimately got pressured to change your initial vote. His investigation interested me, and the assistance he got from Ted Markham (Edward Chapman) and his wife Doucie (Phyllis Konstam) seemed invaluable, as they took him to the relevant places and put him in contact with the correct people.
Again, Sir John and Diana seemed far too taken with one another far too quickly. It is like Sir John fell in love with her from the outside and on the prowl for the real murder, and she had always been interested in him. This was extremely underdeveloped in my opinion, and just felt rushed and tacked on, taking a lot of meaning out of the denouement. Handell Fane (Esme Percy) was interesting, the way he dressed, spoke, his makeup, the whole thing. All those dresses and then he arrives in a beautiful suit (from what I could tell, everything was black and white) when visiting with Sir John. I liked that, his character had more dimension than one would suspect at first glance.
It is really good to see how much the times have changed (I mean The Skin Game is another example of something that is not that terrible today having such extreme actions). Here I am specifically addressing the discovery made in connection with Fane, though I will not delve into it over spoilers. Murder! is a decent watch, one that I can recommend. It was well shot and progressed reasonably, much better than some of the others of the same time. If you are looking for a better older Hitchcock film, I would say this is worth looking into. While it has flaws, it also has redeemable features, and a decent cast that works well together.