Review: Crime and Punishment
Blu-ray: Crime and Punishment (1935)
Directed by the infamous Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel) and adapted by Joseph Anthony and S.K. Lauren from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel of the same title, Crime and Punishment was more or less a vanity project for Peter Lorre who starred in the lead role of Raskolnikov (here named Roderick instead of Rodion). Von Sternberg, who was contractually obliged to make the film, disliked it, and despite it’s ‘classic of cinema’ status, I can see why.
In 1930’s Russia, university student Raskolnikov graduates with honours and even though he is hailed as an authority on crime he lives in abject poverty. When he finds out his family is coming to visit, he is forced to find money from somewhere, so decides to pawn the watch his proud father gave him for his graduation.
At the (evil woman) pawnbroker’s, he meets a young beautiful prostitute Sonya, and ends up giving her the money he makes from the watch.
His mother and sister arrive, and shocked at the squalor he lives in, he finds out that Toni, his sister, lost her job because her employer’s husband, Grilov, tried to force himself on her.
They are now poverty striken, so Toni has agreed to marry her new boss, the pompous Lushin.
Angry at Toni for selling herself to Lushin, and desperately in need of money, Raskolnikov returns to the pawnbroker and kills her to steal whatever he can.
Disturbed by people outside the door, he escapes, only to be arrested the next day, not for the pawnbroker’s murder but for overdue rent.
Inspector Porfiry is eager to meet this criminal expert, and on and on it goes.
Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for a hardcore 1935 film based on a story by a man who spent most of his life, pondering life in a gulag in Siberia, but I felt that the film hadn’t stood the test of time.
Lorre was in full overacting mode, as were most of the cast, and the story itself was one of those poverty/prostitution tales where you’re not allowed to show the poverty OR prostitution. Every meeting between the Inspector and Raskolnikov was overlong and wordy to the point of boredom.
Raskolnikov’s redemption at the end (through the love of a good prostitute and the power of Christ) was…expected.
I normally lap up old movies, this wasn’t one of them.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-Ray (1080p) presentation, restored from original film elements
- Original lossless mono soundtrack
- Isolated music and effects track
- Light And Dark, a newly-filmed appreciation by David Thompson, critic and director of Josef von Sternberg: The Man Who Made Dietrich
- The Double Face of Peter Lorre (1984), an hour-long German TV documentary directed by Harun Farocki
- Mystery In The Air: Crime And Punishment, a 1947 radio adaptation with Lorre reprising the role of Raskolnikov
- Image gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Martin
If you want to buy anything reviewed on our site (or anything at all!), then please use the Amazon link provided and help support us with our website and podcast. Thank you.