"This 1930 British sound film is an early effort by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, to continue to experiment with the use of sound in film. One year before, Hitchcock made the first British sound film, BLACKMAIL, which is famous for the scene where we hear the subjective thoughts of a character via creative sound editing. While BLACKMAIL is still largely a silent film, MURDER! is a more complete attempt to make artistic use of sound to advance storytelling and character depiction. In the opening moments of the film, we see people react to the sound of a commotion nearby, but we never actually see what is causing the noise. In fact, no act of murder is shown in the entire film. Many scenes are conveyed via creative uses of sound. In one ingenious moment, Hitchcock shows the inner thoughts of a distraught stage actress, who imagines the sound of applauses that she would have heard on stage. In a humorous moment, a man speaks in a high-pitch voice off screen in order to prove to others (including the viewers) that he can convincingly imitate a woman. There is also the moment which Hitchcock once said was the best in the film: a man's thoughts are revealed to us while he is looking at the mirror and his gramophone is playing in the background. As his thoughts become more emotional, so does the music from the gramophone. All these usages of sound are commonplace today, of course. But during the early sound era, a film like MURDER! was a rather novel and rewarding experience for the audiences.The story in MURDER! now seems standard: a stage actress is seemingly wrongly accused of murder, and a veteran actor (Herbert Marshall in his first sound film) tries to prove her innocence. Often described as a whodunit, the film actually reveals the murder's identity about 10 minutes before the end. The film's last act borrows from Shakespeare's Hamlet, with Marshall trying to stage a play that re-creates the murder in order to catch the murderer off guard.MURDER! is available in several DVD versions, all of which have mere VHS video quality. The version made by Madacy has the least sharp picture. It also has severe cropping at the top of the screen, so that Herbert Marshall's name during the opening credits is completely cut off. The audio is relatively hiss-free, but probably due to an overuse of noise reduction, which renders the soundtrack muffled and hard to listen to. And there is no English subtitles nor closed captioning.The Madacy DVD version, however, is the only video version available in North America that I know of that has the uncut, original 104-minute British version of the film. The film was cut down to 92 minutes for release in the US, and so video versions of the film have existed only in the 92-minute form. Madacy has apparently somehow obtained the uncut British print. Even though the DVD case shows the running time of 92 minutes, it runs 104 minutes. The DVDs made by other companies, such as Delta (Laserlight) and Whirlwind, all run 92 minutes. Laserlight's version has marginally better picture than Madacy's, and has a hissier, but less muffled soundtrack. The Laserlight DVD also has Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese subtitles, but no English.So what does the extra footage in the 102-minute version consist of? Not much. I noticed only one extra scene, which happens to be the great character actress Una O'Connor's only appearance in the film. In the 92-min version, the scene where Marshall discovers a broken basin is followed immediately by his trip to the prison. But in he 102-min version, it is followed by an extra scene in the rooming house where Marshall has just spent the night. The scene is mainly about a light-hearted conversation between Marshall and the rooming house landlady (O'Connor), who indirectly offers clues to the murderer's identity. The scene also introduces the existence of the cigarette case that later helps pinpoint the murderer.Since these DVDs are selling at such lower prices, it probably wouldn't hurt if you buy all of the DVD versions. Buy the Madacy version for the extra footage, and buy the other versions for more presentable picture quality."
Platinum Does Justice To "Murder!"
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 04/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the Platinum Disc Corp DVD edition of "Murder".....If you are looking for a decent transfer to DVD of one of Hitch's earliest works(1930) and don't want to pay for all the extras, this disc by Platinum is a good way to go. This 73 year old film does show it's age, there are some scratches, there's a very thin line down the center of the film(which is not distracting) and occasionally it jumps a bit, but other than that it is a perfectly clear picture and very viewable.The sound in Dolby Dig(mono) of this early "talkie" is good too, audible and distintive for the most part. There wasn't anything that took away from my viewing pleasure of this Hitch classic that we are lucky to be able to enjoy today. If I look that good at 73. I'll be a happy camper!"Murder" is the story of one man's quest for justice. He was the last hold out on the jury of a murder trial(of a beautiful woman of course), and was convinced to vote guilty. He is an esteemed actor, but realizes that this case was real life, has second thoughts about the woman's guilt and plays detective to try and prove her innocence, and find the real killer.Can he make his case in time or will the death penalty be be invoked? It's a thrilling game of beat the clock!The film stars Herbert Marshall and Norah Barring, and you will see even in this early stage of Hitch's illustrious career, his sense of style and his sense of humor mixed in with the mayhem.Looking for Hitch: About an hour in, take a stroll with him past the scene of the crime.Oh and a little bonus...there's a short quiz on the film, and a bio on Hitchcock included on the disc.Have fun with this terrific edition to your Hitch collection and enjoy.....Laurie"
Awful DVD, rough story
L. Shirley | 05/13/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Interesting to have for Hitchcock fans, you get to see the master in his earlier days in a movie that still has some professional production values.One big problem, the quality of the dvd is so bad here, for much of the beginning of the dvd, one can barely hear what is being said, I mean it is BAD! Almost unwatchable, I do not recommend this dvd."
Poor quality print
L. Shirley | 06/14/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Poor quality print.poor sound.This DVD has not been "mastered from the best available sources" as stated.Don't be fooled.It is cheap for a reason and Tony Curtis sounds as if he did all his intro's in one quick morning."
Worth 3 1/2 stars really. (Consider "The Alfred Hitchcock Bo
"There's something about a silent film, a good silent film, that is just captivating to watch; and "watch" is what we do with silent films, after all, isn't it? Too many more modern films, by comparison, are all talk (often inanely so), devoid of much visual appeal. I think this accounts for Hitchcock's success (John Ford's and others too); his having started in the silent era when "Lights, camera, action" had to carry the day without the added benefit (or crutch as it is sometimes) of sound. That's why this film, "Murder," Hitchcock's second talkie (made in 1930), for the most part, is effective. It has all the feel of a silent film, relying heavily on the visual for dramatic effect. Story wise, it bears some similarity to the later made courtroom drama "12 Angry Men," but in Hitchcock's "Murder" the Henry Fonda character (played ably by Herbert Marshall) doesn't stand his ground in the jury room and thus has to make up for it after the fact by trying to ascertain whether the person he went along with condemning really did, in fact, do it. Norah Baring plays the condemned lady and is vibrantly intriguing to watch, particularly---as it were a silent film---when she says nothing at all. Extra helpings of dialogue for her would have been patently superfluous. "Murder" thus is certainly a film worth having a look at. Full disclosure: I am an avowed fan of silent films & prefer Hitchcock's efforts in black & white to his more colorful works (in which shadow---something Hitch excelled at creating---cannot be as effectively employed). Warning! This version of this early Hitchcock film is not high quality, but is still captivating (especially if you're a Hitch fan; others might find this DVD's poor quality & sound too much of a distraction). You would be much better off to consider The Alfred Hitchcock Box Set (The Ring / The Manxman / Murder! / The Skin Game / Rich and Strange) to get a version of this film that is 12 minutes longer than this version, and one that has been cleaned-up. Cheers!"