• The Sin Of Nora Moran (The Film Detective) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: The Film Detective
    Released on: July 29th, 2020.
    Director: Phil Goldstone
    Cast Zita Johann, John Miljan, Alan Dinehart, Paul Cavanagh, Claire Du Brey
    Year: 1933
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    The Sin Of Nora Moran – Movie Review:

    Phil Goldstone’s The Sin Of Nora Moran, which was written by W. Maxwell Goodhue and Frances Hyland and released in 1933, stars the beautiful Zita Johann as the titular character, Nora Moran. When we meet this beautiful young woman, she’s been recently sentenced to death, found guilty of a murder that she did not commit. As Nora awaits her fate, she looks back on her life and, through a series of flashbacks, brings the audience up to speed on what really happened and how she wound up in such a dire predicament in the first place, a twisted story that involves her finding work in a travelling circus and falling in with a lion tamer named Paulino (John Miljan).

    Edith Crawford (Claire Du Brey) hands over a stack of handwritten love-letters to her brother, John Grant (Alan Dinehart), the local District Attorney. Edith is married to Dick Crawford (Paul Cavanaugh), the state’s Governor, who just so happened to be the person addressed in said letters, which have no signature on them indicating who penned them in the first place. Edith is upset and isn’t trying to hide it. John acknowledges that he was aware of what was going on behind Edith’s back, and when she insists he tell her who the other woman is, this ties into Nora’s story.

    Thematically the film is strong stuff for its time, dealing with how Nora’s essentially going to lose her very life in order to save the skin of Dick Crawford and all, and there’s an anti-authoritarian streak running through the picture that you can’t help but admire. Yes, it does occasionally get bogged down in a bit or romantic melodrama but ultimately this still packs a bit of a bunch and had to have been regarded as a pretty controversial picture upon its release.

    The cast does fine work here across the board, with Paul Cavanaugh sticking out a bit as the slimy politician, but it’s Zita Johann who you’ll wind up remembering once the film finishes, and not just because she’s a striking looking woman. Her work as Nora is excellent, we really feel for her character as her plight unfolds.

    Running a brisk sixty-five-minutes, The Sin Or Nora Moran is pretty ahead of its time in how it presents what should, on the surface at least, be a simple story from a few different points of view and by using an unexpectedly high number of flashback sequences that sometimes border on the surreal. We don’t really know what’s going on here or why until it ends, and getting there is an engaging and unusual ride well worth taking. Phil Goldstone’s direction is great, really using every trick in the book he had to work from to craft a well-paced and visually impressive picture.

    The Sin Of Nora Moran – Blu-ray Review:

    The Film Detective brings The Sin Of Nora Moran to Blu-ray taking taken from a new 4k scan of the film’s original 35mm negative in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation. Framed at 1.37.1 widescreen and presenting the feature on a 25GB disc, the transfer is decent if a bit on the dark side, looking like maybe contrast is a tad off. Still, for a film fast approaching its centennial (and for one that uses as many wipes and fades and opticals as it does), the detail here is pretty strong. Done in conjunction with Sam Sherman and UCLA, this one doesn’t look as sharp or as detailed as a film with less opticals would, that’s just the nature of the beast, but it’s more than watchable and at times pretty impressive. Grain generally looks nice and natural and while there is some print damage noticeable throughout, it’s never really distracting.

    Audio chores are handled by a 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. Understandably limited by the elements available, the track sounds okay for its age. There’s a bit of flatness inherent in the source but the dialogue is generally clean and easy to follow and the levels balanced well enough. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The only extra on the disc is a seventeen-minute featurette entitled The Mysterious Life Of Zita Johann that is, in fact, a look back at the life and times of the actress by way of some recollections from Sam Sherman, who is actually the heir to Johann’s estate. Sherman, who worked with Johann on Raiders Of The Living Dead (her last film), talks about her life and times and offers up a bit of information about this particular film – it’s worth a watch.

    The Sin Of Nora Moran – The Final Word Review:

    Part crime picture and part melodrama, The Sin Of Nora is a picture worth seeing. Zita Johann is very good in the lead role and delivers a genuinely impressive performance here and the movie is both engaging and entertaining. The Blu-ray release from The Film Detective looks and sounds okay and the featurette with Sherman is worth checking out. Worth a look for fans of pre-code pictures.

    Note – because this disc wouldn’t load on my BD-Rom drive, I can’t provide screen caps but here are a few images provided for promotional purposes by The Film Detective.