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Murder!

3.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A knighted actor on a jury tries to save an actress accused of murder. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Norah Baring, Donald Calthrop, Esme V. Chaplin, Edward Chapman, Violet Farebrother
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Westlake Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009OL862
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,129 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1930 British sound film is an early effort by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, to continue to experiment with the use of sound in film. One year before, Hitchcock made the first British sound film, BLACKMAIL, which is famous for the scene where we hear the subjective thoughts of a character via creative sound editing. While BLACKMAIL is still largely a silent film, MURDER! is a more complete attempt to make artistic use of sound to advance storytelling and character depiction. In the opening moments of the film, we see people react to the sound of a commotion nearby, but we never actually see what is causing the noise. In fact, no act of murder is shown in the entire film. Many scenes are conveyed via creative uses of sound. In one ingenious moment, Hitchcock shows the inner thoughts of a distraught stage actress, who imagines the sound of applauses that she would have heard on stage. In a humorous moment, a man speaks in a high-pitch voice off screen in order to prove to others (including the viewers) that he can convincingly imitate a woman. There is also the moment which Hitchcock once said was the best in the film: a man's thoughts are revealed to us while he is looking at the mirror and his gramophone is playing in the background. As his thoughts become more emotional, so does the music from the gramophone. All these usages of sound are commonplace today, of course. But during the early sound era, a film like MURDER! was a rather novel and rewarding experience for the audiences.
The story in MURDER! now seems standard: a stage actress is seemingly wrongly accused of murder, and a veteran actor (Herbert Marshall in his first sound film) tries to prove her innocence.
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Format: DVD
There's something about a silent film, a good silent film, that is just captivating to watch; and "watch" is what we do with silent films, after all, isn't it? Too many more modern films, by comparison, are all talk (often inanely so), devoid of much visual appeal. I think this accounts for Hitchcock's success (John Ford's and others too); his having started in the silent era when "Lights, camera, action" had to carry the day without the added benefit (or crutch as it is sometimes) of sound. That's why this film, "Murder," Hitchcock's second talkie (made in 1930), for the most part, is effective. It has all the feel of a silent film, relying heavily on the visual for dramatic effect. Story wise, it bears some similarity to the later made courtroom drama "12 Angry Men," but in Hitchcock's "Murder" the Henry Fonda character (played ably by Herbert Marshall) doesn't stand his ground in the jury room and thus has to make up for it after the fact by trying to ascertain whether the person he went along with condemning really did, in fact, do it. Norah Baring plays the condemned lady and is vibrantly intriguing to watch, particularly---as it were a silent film---when she says nothing at all. Extra helpings of dialogue for her would have been patently superfluous. "Murder" thus is certainly a film worth having a look at. Full disclosure: I am an avowed fan of silent films & prefer Hitchcock's efforts in black & white to his more colorful works (in which shadow---something Hitch excelled at creating---cannot be as effectively employed). Warning! This version of this early Hitchcock film is not high quality, but is still captivating (especially if you're a Hitch fan; others might find this DVD's poor quality & sound too much of a distraction).Read more ›
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Suspense, a touch of madcap comedy, a brutal killing, a fetching lady in distress, a suave everyman to the rescue, coupled with a climatic scene where the killer meets his end, and you have first-rate Hitchcock. The 1930 film has been digitally remastered and despite a few glitches—and I do mean a few—the movie looks remarkably well for its age. The fetching lady (played by Nora Baring) is an actress who is caught standing over the corpse of a fellow actress. Worse, she has amnesia and remembers nothing about the murder, or herself. She is convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Puzzled by the case, and feeling guilty because he once rejected her for his repertory theater ensemble, one of the jurors—Sir John (Herbert Marshall)—turns amateur sleuth, engaging two former trouper members to help him find the real killer.

The film is a bit slow-paced and dialogue driven, and—lacking English subtitles—requires close attention to follow the story. That said, it has several of Hitchcock’s touches, including a play within a play, and a cross-dressing villain (Esme Percy) who performs both as a clown and as a trapeze artist. In one of the most memorable and moving scenes, Percy’s piquant acting skill manages to elicit our sympathy. The climatic scene takes place under the big tent with the villain performing on the trapeze. If you’re into Hitchcock, as I am, this is a must have. Five stars.
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An early Hitchcock talkie, this shows some definite trademarks of the master but also has jagged/jumpy storytelling -- I had to keep reminding myself that Hitch wasn't the Master yet, and he was still finding his way with both storytelling and sound.

The print of this 85-year-old film wasn't the best (I'll be on the lookout for a better one), but for $8.50 was good enough to give me a sense of the film. Things really kicked into high gear when Sir John began investigating ... the final scene at the circus is classic Hitch.

Note the 4-star rating is for the movie overall; the quality of the print would drop this to 2.5 or 3 stars.
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