Murder! is the 11th film Hitchcock directed and as with pretty much every film so far in this challenge it is one I knew next to nothing about.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The film begins very Hitchcockianly with a murder. A woman (Norah Baring) is arrested for the murder and subsequently sent to trial. After being pressured by fellow jury members into finding her guilty one of the jurors on the case Sir John Menier (Herbert Marshall) find he is suffering ‘reasonably doubt’ over whether she actually commited the murder and thus sets out to investigate what really happened himself. 

THE GOOD

The opening of the film is fantastic and very Hitchcockian. A woman is murdered and whilst she screams we see shots of people leaning out of their windows in the nightclothes wandering what’s going on. There is then a fantastic shot which slowly reveals a woman sitting in shock before panning to a bloody poker and ultimately a dead body. The entire sequence is beautifully crafted and is definitely Hitchcock at his best.

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The narrative of the film allows some good tension to be created throughout particularly in the jury room and towards the end of the movie. Particularly as Sir John confronts someone in an angry manner.

The ending of the film is truly shocking and totally unexpected especially from a film made in 1930, however I will not give any spoilers here as you should enjoy it for yourself.

THE BAD

The dialogue in this film is poorly written throughout. The Jury room scene was very much like the class 12 Angry Men at points which each Juror discussing why the thought she was/wasn’t guilty and examining all the pieces of evidence; however the dialogue was not as snappy as that of Sidney Lumet’s classic film and seemed to lack purpose and was actually rather disappointing.

There was also the same issue that appeared in last weeks film Juno & the Paycock and that is that it was far too Talkie, there was not enough visual storytelling involved meaning it involved a lot of concentration to listen and understand exactly what was happening; this also through the pacing off making the middle part of the film tedious and slow.

Another issue was the sound-mixing in the film, which is some of the worst I have heard. There where times when diegetic sounds i.e a record playing, where far too loud making it hard to hear whatever the characters where discussing on top, this was thoroughly annoying and involved me rewinding a few scenes to re-listen. I understand that these issues where probably fairly common at the time and it was nice to see it trialled however the technology was not quite prepared.

A final fault comes in the narrative where there a few plot loopholes that where far too convenient; for example a woman’s excuse over why she didn’t hear something (don’t want to give spoilers) is ‘I had my fingers in my ears’, which to be frank is a ridiculous excuse.

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YES! Hitchcock makes a cameo in this film as some guy walking past the characters. Awesome!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Murder! is very good film at points particularly the start and the end however a lack of visual storytelling throws the pacing off completely over the middle passage and the film is therefore given three Hitch’s.

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