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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Mark Fuller

Crown v. Stevens
Kinematograph Weekly: 2nd April 1936

Vivid portrayal of a young woman who commits murder and then tries to poison her husband, thereby involving his employee, a witness to the former crime. Plot is entirely suited to those who do not demand that a crime story should justify its existence by reaching too high an artistic level in theme, acting or presentation. Definitely unsuited to the family, the picture may nevertheless find a place in the average programme as a quota thriller.

Story:- Chris Jansen, visiting a pawnbroker, finds him dead, and his employer's wife, Doris Stevens, leaving the house. She enforces silence on him, but his suspicion is strengthened when he is told of the sudden illness of her husband.

Later he goes to his employer's house: hearing a car engine running in a locked garage, he discovers Mr. Stevens nearly dead from an overdose of sleeping tablets. When he challenges Mrs. Stevens with causing the death of the money- lender she breaks down and gives herself up to the police.

Acting:- Beatrix Thomson gives a firm and convincing study of the cold-blooded wife, though rather inclined to over-statement. Patric Knowles is likeable as the unfortunate employee.

Mabel Poulton provides a clever thumbnail sketch of a fickle young woman, while, on the lighter side, Reginald Purdell as a works' foreman rightly wins many a laugh.

Production:- Michael Powell suffers from a discursive scenario which deals firstly at some length with Chris's troubles over an unpaid-for ring, thereafter introducing Mrs. Stevens as the plot's central character. Action then switches back to Chris and his second love affair, switching again to the wife's preparations for murder in detail.

Throughout Chris, though involved in, is never seriously threatened by Mrs. Stevens' actions: thus the tension of the drama is lessened. The title, by the way, is misleading, as action never takes place in court.

Individual scenes are effectively dealt with, and the dialogue is satisfactory.

Settings and Photography:- Airy shots of the decorator's office and well-lighted interiors of a suburban house provide the backgrounds, which include no exteriors of note. Camera work of good quality.

Points of Appeal:- Murder at the hands of a calculating and cold-blooded woman as opposed to the interests of an honest and warm-hearted young man. Beatrix Thomson's performance.

5,997 ft

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