Crime And Punishment Roderick Raskolnikov, a brilliant criminology student and writer, becomes embittered by poverty and his inability to support his family. When he sees a desperate prostitute, Sonya, degraded by a vicious pawnbroker, Raskolnikov, a proponent of the idea that some people are imbued with such intelligence that the law cannot be applied to them as to other people, decides to rid the world of the pawnbroker and thus save his family and Sonya as well from the fate poverty forces on them. When Porphiry, the police detective investigating the murder, encounters Raskolnikov, he finds a man nearly crippled by the guilt and paranoia his deed has burdened him with. But Raskolnikov clings with as much coldness and calculation as he can muster to his guiding idea, that some crimes ought not to be punished.
Early performance by Lorre, dark film
Crime And Punishment Josef von Sternberg directed this version of “Crime and Punishment,” starring Peter Lorre, Edward Arnold, and Marian Marsh in 1935. It’s an updating of the great novel, with Lorre as a man tortured by his own conscience.
It’s a fairly dreary-looking affair, quite dark, with impressive use of shadows. The most interesting aspect of the way it was filmed to me is how Lorre’s small stature is emphasized, as if the staircase, for instance, was over-sized. The incomparably beautiful Marian Marsh is the prostitute who tries to help him, and she gives a very gentle and heartfelt performance. Edward Arnold is the bombastic head of the murder investigation of the pawnbroker (Mrs. Patrick Campbell) – he’s plenty scary. I don’t blame Lorre for being a complete wreck.
Lorre is excellent playing a character who vacillates between arrogance one minute and fear the next. Definitely in the top ten of unusual faces and voices in film history, his hooded eyes show the torture the character is suffering.
Definitely worth seeing for von Sternberg’s direction, Lorre and Marsh.
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