• George Young

Homage to Hitchcock - Murder! (1930)

Updated: Jun 4, 2018

The choice of Murder! as a Top 20 Hitchcock film is a bit of a stretch. However, an appreciation for his growth as a director, and creative force is taken into consideration as this blog works its way through the man’s canon.

Murder! (Doncha LOVE the banger!) exposes Hitchcock’s willingness to explore the vagaries and frailties of the human mind. The culprit, Esme Percy, is a half-caste (Not all Caucasian) ahem, ‘part-time’ actor in a troupe and circus performer. His victim, Edna Druce, is about to expose him, so he dispatches her, and frames Norah Baring another member of the troupe, who is tried and convicted, and awaits final judgement on Hangman’s Row.

Enter Herbert Marshall, yet another actor, one of jurors who believes Nora to be innocent. He sets about to find the real murderer, and along the way uncovers some curious facts about Mr. Percy … such as his willingness to play roles requiring the skill of cross-dressing. Very controversial film subject matter at that time.

And Marshall uncovers the motive as well. 

This all comes to a head during one of Mr. Percy’s circus performances. He is a trapeze artist. While high above the crowd, in yet another signature Hitchcockian shot and camera angle, he spots Marshall and the authorities. 

Trapped and despondent, Percy knots his trapeze rope and hangs himself in full public display. Another early seminal moment in Hitchcock’s development as a director.

One final note on Murder! There is a device Hitchcock will use again in The 39 Steps and Stage Fright (No banger this time). The play within the play. What appears to be a genuine intimate moment between Ms. Baring and Mr. Marshall, at the end of the movie, turns out to be a love scene in the latest play that employs the two leading actors in Murder!

And fade to black, or curtain down, whichever you prefer.

Next up.

The 39 Steps.

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© 2018 by George W Young