T. it.: Omicidio!. Sog.: dal romanzo Enter Sir John di Clemence Dane e Helen Simpson. Scen.: Alma Reville, Alfred Hitchcock, Walter Mycroft. F.: Jack Cox. Mo.: Rene Marrison. Scgf.: J.F. Mead. Su.: Cecil V. Thornton. Int.: Herbert Marshall (Sir John Menier), Norah Baring (Diana Baring), Phyllis Konstam (Doucie Markham), Edward Chapman (Ted Markham), Miles Mander (Gordon Druce), Esme Percy (Handel Fane), Donald Calthrop (Ion Stewart), Esme V. Chaplin (avvocato dell’accusa), Amy Brandon Thomas (avvocato difensore), Joynson Powell (giudice), S.J. Warmington (Bennett), Marie Wright (Miss Mitcham), Hannah Jones (Mrs Didsome), Una O’Connor (Mrs Grogram), R.E. Jeffrey (presidente della giuria). Prod.: British International Pictures. Pri. pro.: 31 luglio 1930 35mm. D.: 97’. Bn.
Hitchcock was an enthusiastic theatregoer and was on familiar ground with his adaption of the novel and play Enter Sir John by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson. As scenario writer, Alma Reville would have helped to craft the efficient visualising of the film peppered throughout with the theatre aesthetic from proscenium framing to witty use of the ‘wings’ as sites of action. A particularly effective scene withdraws from the ostensible site of the narrative in which the falsely accused woman is pronounced guilty in the courtroom, preferring to ‘overhear’ the sentencing from the now deserted jury room where a cleaner is sweeping up. This pulling back from the action to get a slightly off beat perspective was a favourite Hitchcock device – think of the withdrawal to a long shot in the phone booth scene in The Birds for example or the sudden reduction in sound level used in Blackmail, North by Northwest and Topaz which has a similarly disorienting effect. Hitchcock was not a fan of the whodunit form which he considered insufficiently suspenseful although he returned to it a few times notably with Stage Fright (adapted by Alma). Nevertheless Murder! is made with great care and inventiveness – the use of a voice over to express Sir John’s (Herbert Marshall) interior thought whilst staring at his face in the mirror while shaving was a novel development in the early days of sound. The set piece in which Sir John confronts Handel Fane hoping to entrap him into a confession uses another theatrical device, the play-within-a-play à la Hamlet.