104 minutes, U.K., 1930, Black and White, 35mm

This was Hitchcock’s 12th film but only the third – after The Lodger and Blackmail – to deal with crime and its unravelling; he had not yet begun to be identified with the genre. While the ‘whodunnit’ structure is untypical, Murder! centres, like The Lodger and so many later films, on the anguish of a wrongly accused character, this time a woman.

Two elements have continued to fascinate critics and audiences: the (necessarily) veiled hints of homosexuality in a key character, and Hitchcock’s bold experimentation with the still-new medium of synchronised sound. A scene of the jury chanting their responses in unison echoes the recent stage practice of Sean O’Casey, whose Juno and the Paycock he had filmed just previously, while another passage, voicing the thoughts of the hero as he shaves, may constitute cinema’s first interior monologue.

Screening as part of The Genius of Hitchcock: Part One (December 9th – 30th).

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