Crime and Punishment

Josef von Sternberg's 1935 film of the Dostoyevsky novel gives him little chance to use his visual talents; the movie was made for Columbia (after Sternberg had worn out his welcome at Paramount), and the poverty-row production severely cramps his style. Sternberg, with his well-wrought fatalism, was probably the Hollywood director best in tune with the material, and it's a pity that he wasn't allowed to do it right. Still, some moments are stunning in their cramped seediness, and Peter Lorre has one of his finest, fullest roles in the lead. With Edward Arnold, Tala Birell, and Marian Marsh. 88 min.

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