Crime Without Passion


Dating a high-powered trial lawyer must be nothing short of exhausting, although an exception could be made if they cut as fine a figure as Crime Without Passion star Claude Raines – in Arrow collars, shoes by Florsheim, and dialogue by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. A sharky shyster with a gardenia boutonniere, Raines' Lee Gentry, Esq. waltzes through this fugitive crime drama in a perfume of double-talk and derision, saving New York's most notorious – and well-heeled – criminals from the long arm of the law.

While addressing the bar, Gentry poses like a chanticleer, showering judge and jury with a give-and-take delivery of stentorian declarations and purring spiel. Cocksure and confident, he careens from the courtroom to the bedroom on winged loafers, unfettered by anything resembling a moral compass. And would you believe, ladies, he's [practically] single – tawdry love triangle notwithstanding?

After an act or two of cursory melodrama, Hecht and MacArthur's screenplay veers sharply into pulpy procedural territory, presenting Gentry's dirty laundry as "people's exhibit 'A'." Torn between a lusty brunette cabaret singer and a slim, blonde deb, it was only a matter of time before Gentry's roaming eye and silver tongue came back to bite him in the – well, you know. Mercifully, judgement is reserved largely for our pencil-mustachioed anti-hero; credit is due Messers Hecht and MacArthur for leaving Gentry's fawning female victims relatively unscathed.

Past Screenings