Murder! (1930)

dir. Alfred Hitchcock. An actress in a local theatre troupe is found bludgeoned to death, and another actress found on the scene, blood on her dress, and no memory of the murder. She is given little sympathy by the jury, but one juror (Sir John, handsome stage actor) thinks there may be more to this mystery! An early Hitchcock “talkie”. There is very little music, but one scene does stand out, Sir John shaves in the mirror while listening to the radio, talking to himself about the trial. The filmmaking process apparently made it impossible to have music layered over the film in post-production. Hitchcock’s solution to this was to have a 30-piece orchestra off camera to play the dramatic music as our hero talks through his dilemma. Hitchcock also allowed the actors to improvise much of their dialogue, which he later admitted in conversation with François Truffaut, was not a great success. The scene of Sir John interrupted by the over excited children of the small hotel is delightful, some charming accidental comedy from the young cast. Within the film, Sir John describes his last play as a “highbrow shocker”, which might be Hitchcock projecting his own cinematic ambitions. There is an uncomfortable element of the homophobic trope of Villainous Queer, that would reappear in many Hitchcock films. The film is based on a novel with a potentially risqué title, Enter Sir John, it was enough of a success to warrant the sequel, Re-enter Sir John.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.