Crime and Punishment (1935) - Rotten Tomatoes

Crime and Punishment (1935)





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The story goes that Peter Lorre wanted to star in a film version of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, but was certain that Columbia Pictures chieftain Harry Cohn would turn the project down flat. So Lorre hired a secretary to type up a synopsis of the story in words of one syllable then submitted this simplified resume to Cohn. Enthusiastic over the project, Cohn gave Lorre the go-ahead -- but first he asked "Tell me -- has this book got a publisher?" Apocryphal story or no, the fact is that Lorre did star in Columbia's Crime and Punishment and in the bargain was directed by the ultra-stylish Josef Von Sternberg. As the arrogant sociopath Raskolnikov, who is convinced that he can get away with the murder of a nasty pawnbroker because he is "above" such intangibles as a conscience, Lorre is excellent, especially when his bravado is slowly eroded by the gentle but determined Inspector Porfiri (Edward Arnold). Like the aforementioned typed-up synopsis, the film oversimplifies the Dostoyevsky original, concentrating only on the crime, the pangs of guilt, the confession and the arrest: the punishment and its aftermath, so essential to the novel's overall impact, are dispensed with entirely. To make the film even more accessible to a mass audience, the story is subtly updated, though any distinctly "contemporary" touches such as automobiles, telephones and current slang are studiously avoided. The supporting cast is wildly inconsistent: Mrs. Patrick Campbell is fine in her brief scenes as the vitriolic pawnbroker, but Marian Marsh is all wrong as the streetwalker heroine Sonya. The principal strength of this Crime and Punishment is the film-long game of cat-and-mouse between the reckless Raskolnikov and the quietly methodical Porfiri.


Peter Lorre
as Roderick Raskolnikov
Edward Arnold
as Insp. Porfiry
Elisabeth Risdon
as Mrs. Raskolnikov
Elizabeth Risdon
as Mrs. Raskolnikov
Tala Birell
as Antonya
Charles Waldron
as University President
Michael Mark
as Painter/Prisoner
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Critic Reviews for Crime and Punishment

All Critics (2)

Dostoyevskian? No, no -- Sternbergian!

November 17, 2009 | Full Review…

The American version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel.

September 15, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Crime and Punishment

how is it this film has so few ratings on flixster? it's very entertaining! lorre is great as the arrogant impoverished writer who sees himself as a 'superman' like his hero napoleon but is ultimately undone by his own conscience. of course no film will entirely live up to a great novel and this is an oversimplified version to be sure; the odd mix of accents barely acknowledge the russian setting. it's a hollywood bastardization of dostoyevsky so be prepared but definitely worth it for lorre fans

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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