After fleeing Nazi Germany following the success of M and re-establishing himself in Britain as a villain for Alfred Hitchcock, the great Peter Lorre arrived in Hollywood in 1935, signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures. His dream star vehicle: a big-screen adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s most famous novel Crime And Punishment. His choice of director: Josef von Sternberg, already celebrated and castigated in equal measure for his seven-film collaboration with Marlene Dietrich.
Roderick Raskolnikov (Lorre) has graduated from university as a noted expert in criminology, but nonetheless lives in extreme poverty. Desperate and anguished, he murders a miserly pawnbroker, stealing her valuables before fleeing into the night. The next day, he encounters Inspector Porfiry (Edward Arnold), the detective assigned to the murder, and is asked by Porfiry to consult on the case when an innocent man is arrested as a suspect. How long until the conflicted, guilt-ridden Raskolnikov arouses the master detective’s suspicions?
One of many attempts at the time by Hollywood studios to give cinema an air of prestige by adapting great works of literature, Von Sternberg’s stylish direction and Lorre’s tour-de-force performance are ready for rediscovery in this Blu-Ray premiere of their only collaboration.
|Director||Josef von Sternberg|
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