Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The World Gone Mad (1933)

This is another of the "in no way a horror movie" movies in the Horror Classics pack.  It is in fact a crime film featuring an uneven mix of comedy and melodrama to go with its main mystery-themed plot.

A crooked investment banker, his pyramid scheme of worthless companies about to be exposed, pays for the district attorney to be murdered.  The death is designed to look self-inflicted, but neither a nosy newspaper reporter nor the new district attorney believe that, and each sets out on an independent investigation to find the real story.

It being the 1930s, the good guys will eventually win out, but not before a couple of genuine suicides and several attempts to add to the murder tally.  The film was made nearly two decades too early to be influenced by Raymond Chandler's advice "When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand", but it lives up to the idea nonetheless.  If only it had Chandler's narrative flair as well.

The investigation is the weakest part of the film (a bit of an issue since it is the main plot), with contrivance being piled upon contrivance.  Not even the stalwart efforts of the cast - most of the main players being solid performers who had successful careers - can save that part of the movie.  They do better with the attempts at comedy and pathos, probably because there is more scope there for good delivery to hide weaknesses in the actual content.

This film (which can also be found under the title The Public Be Hanged) is a fairly average low-budget crime feature of the era.  It's lifted by the solid performances but let down by the script.  Overall, I don't think there's enough here to justify seeking it out.

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