The Crime of the Century (1933)

In Front of your Face

A mystery the way they used to make them, full of clues, an onscreen detective and the expectation that the audience is working hard to make sense of everything. Near then end, they stop the film and an announcer appears to give the audience a minute to guess.

The murderer is hard to guess, and this also has some interesting genre features. One is that the main suspect turns himself in before the crime. What mars this is that we have that one anti-cinematic device: the lights go out and events happen without us being able to see them. All crimes happen on-screen, but the crime itself is occluded. This happens twice, each time there is a murder.

As a narrative device, we have evolved away from this one, and I guess I am sad to see it go, because with it, you have purity: everything essential happens in front of you. But evolved away we have.

We have also lost the character who is our on-screen detective, but not as a result of cinematic development. These guys just faded from life in general, the newspaper crime reporter. That is a loss too.

Posted in 2015

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


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