Before Midnight (1933)

The Written Mystery

The early thirties was a time of great experimentation with the detective narrative, leading eventually to noir.

This is one of those experiments, and a rather fine one. It has a framing device where an old cop is telling a young one about the famous case from some time back and how a legendary inspector solved it. The case is a good one: an impossible murder, committed according to a centuries old schedule. Mysteries of the Orient. Confusion of roles. Some careful forensics and a bit of adventure.

In this case, the mystery is more like a written story than a cinematic one. It even features a few devices associated with writing: the will of course, a fountain pen, a diary, some checks. If you were looking for a fold beyond the framing narrative, you will find it: one character has planned an elaborate “play” within the world we see.

Posted in 2010

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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