Crime and Punishment

Sternberg was handed the script and cast for this adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment as part of his Columbia contract, and the result is more purposeful and less extravagantly strange than many of his productions. The director's touch is still in evidence, however, in the stark cinematography and the vivid depiction of setting. As the sulking, skulking criminologist Raskolnikov, Peter Lorre alternates between arrogance and sweaty terror in the face of Edward Arnold's imposing Inspector Porfiry. Both men are pieces in a game that neither one controls; both are parts of a pattern, a moral atmosphere as suffocating as the dingy rooming-house where Raskolnikov lives, its Expressionist windows overlooking nothing.

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