The Sin of Nora Moran (December 13, 1933)

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The Sin of Nora Moran
 

Released on December 13, 1933: A young woman willingly faces the electric chair for a murder committed by another.

Directed by Phil Goldstone

The Actors: Zita Johann (Nora Moran), John Miljan (Paulino), Alan Dinehart (District Attorney John Grant), Paul Cavanagh (Governor Dick Crawford), Claire Du Brey (Mrs. Edith Crawford), Sarah Padden (Mrs. Watts), Henry B. Walthall (Father Ryan), Otis Harlan (Mr. Moran), Aggie Herring (Mrs. Moran), Cora Sue Collins (Nora Moran as an orphan child), Joseph W. Girard (Captain of Detectives), Ann Brody (Matron), Syd Saylor (Jake, circus performer), Harvey Clark (unknown), Rolfe Sedan (stage manager)

 

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Murder among Friends

The poster advertising this movie proudly claims in all capital letters, "A NEW MARVELOUS SCREEN TECHNIQUE" and that poster itself has been deemed the number 2 best movie poster of all time. But even better than the poster is the movie itself . . . an amazingly complicated love and murder story told in a groundbreaking-for-1933 motion picture story telling technique. If you only watch one murder mystery this year . . . watch this one. I am amazed at the complex story plot that is better and more intricate than any that I've seen in a movie from the 1930's, with an amazing technique for revealing the truth about the Sin of Nora Moran . . . and the real killer that she is ready to die for. The director starts the story with the wife of the Governor visiting her brother the District Attorney, showing him a series of love letters from Nora Moran to her husband, Governor Dick Crawford. District Attorney John Grant knows about the letters, and knows about 21 year old Nora Moran, and starts telling the Governor's wife and us a story of love an murder that will surprise not only the Governor's wife, but you and me. Now, you need to pay pretty close attention from here on in because the director starts revealing the true story of Nora Moran, Governor Dick Crawford and himself, District Attorney John Grant by moving from flashback to dream sequence to flashback. As the first flashback begins we discover 21 year old Nora Moran waiting to die in a few hours in the electric chair. With flashbacks and dream sequences we learn the real story of love, murder and deceit that takes Nora Moran to the death house. Once in a while I was confused at what was real and what was dream, but the director brought it all together with amazing skill, clearing the deliberate fog created by the story telling method. Little by little he unwrapped this story like peeling the skins from an onion, one by one. Just when I thought that this would be a standard murder for love story, another skin would be pulled from the onion and everything would change again. The complexity of this story is so clever and so intricate that it is surely many years ahead of its time, and would make a dandy story if it were told today. I am just puzzled that the movie didn't get awards in 1933 and become a well known classic, because it is superb in every way. The only thing that I can imagine is that the dream sequences and flash backs were too new and too unexpected for audiences of 1933 to follow easily. But trust me, if you enjoy a really good story, this will be one of the best that you will experience. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter on it and enjoy the show.

Aggie Herring and Otis Harlan
Aggie Herring and Otis Harlan
Alan Dinehart and Paul Cavanagh
Alan Dinehart and Paul Cavanagh
Alan Dinehart as District Attorney John Grant
Alan Dinehart as District Attorney John Grant
Alan Dinehart movie credit screen
Alan Dinehart movie credit screen
Claire Du Brey and Alan Dinehart
Claire Du Brey and Alan Dinehart
Claire Du Brey shows Alan Dinehart the love letters from Nora Moran
Claire Du Brey shows Alan Dinehart the love letters from Nora Moran
Claire DuBrey movie credit screen
Claire DuBrey movie credit screen
Cora Sue Collins as young orphan Nora Moran
Cora Sue Collins as young orphan Nora Moran
Henry B. Walthall as Father Ryan
Henry B. Walthall as Father Ryan
Zita Johann, John Miljan and Paul Cavanagh
Zita Johann, John Miljan and Paul Cavanagh
John Miljan movie credit screen
John Miljan movie credit screen
Paul Cavanagh and Joseph W. Girard
Paul Cavanagh and Joseph W. Girard
Paul Cavanagh and Zita Johann dance
Paul Cavanagh and Zita Johann dance
Paul Cavanagh movie credit screen
Paul Cavanagh movie credit screen
Rolfe Sedan and Zita Johann in The Sin of Nora Moran
Rolfe Sedan and Zita Johann in The Sin of Nora Moran
Sarah Padden and Zita Johann pace her jail cell
Sarah Padden and Zita Johann pace her jail cell
Sarah Padden comforts Zita Johann before she goes to the electric chair
Sarah Padden comforts Zita Johann before she goes to the electric chair
Syd Saylor as circus performer Jake, with the other circus people in the police station
Syd Saylor as circus performer Jake, with the other circus people in the police station
Zita Johann and Alan Dinehart
Zita Johann and Alan Dinehart
Zita Johann and Henry B. Walthall
Zita Johann and Henry B. Walthall
Zita Johann and Paul Cavanagh
Zita Johann and Paul Cavanagh
Zita Johann hears the circus coming to town
Zita Johann hears the circus coming to town
Zita Johann discovers that her adoptive parents are dead
Zita Johann discovers that her adoptive parents are dead
Zita Johann movie credit screen
Zita Johann movie credit screen
Zita Johann watches the lion tamer and the lion
Zita Johann watches the lion tamer and the lion