Review: ‘Crime Without Passion’

This is about a great criminal lawyer. Always, up to now, it has been customary to get the mouthpiece into a jam of his own early and then let him wiggle out of it.

This is about a great criminal lawyer. Always, up to now, it has been customary to get the mouthpiece into a jam of his own early and then let him wiggle out of it.

But Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, who don’t like literary rules and regulations and consistently show it in their writing, have taken the great mouthpiece theme and turned it upside down. Their courtroom scene, instead of being the closing clincher, opens the picture, and the story builds up to the lawyer’s personal jam in preference to building away from it.

Their lawyer is brilliant in a courtroom, but a combination egomaniac and chump in a boudoir. He’s mixed up with a brunette dancer whom he’d like to shake for a blonde, but the brunette has him hooked. His profound egoism in his love-making dictates another procedure for airing a dame, i.e. false evidence planting to throw a suspicion of unfaithfulness upon the lady.

It leads to an accidental shooting and apparent killing of the brunet in a scramble for a gun, and then the picture gets hot.

Claude Rains, an expert actor, plays the lawyer with much intelligence. Leading girl (the brunet) is a young lady named just Margo. In highly dramatic moments, when Margo is expected to scream, by all rules of picture directing, Margo talks softly. Whitney Bourne, another new face, and a good-looking blonde, has much less to do than Margo, and does it satisfactorily.

Crime Without Passion

Production

Paramount. Director Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur; Producer Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur; Screenplay Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur; Camera Lee Garmes;; Art Director Albert Johnson

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1934. Running time: 70 MIN.

With

Claude Rains Margo Whitney Bourne Stanley Ridges Paula Trueman Esther Dale
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