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Journal of a Crime

Journal of a Crime(1934)

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teaser Journal of a Crime (1934)

This inexpensive crime drama ended the Warner Bros. career of Ruth Chatterton, a victim of declining box office and her vocal protests when the studio tried to cut salaries at the height of the Depression. She stars as a desperate wife trying to win playwright husband Adolphe Menjou back from the leading lady (Claire Dodd) he's fallen for. The plot would have given a lesser actress an excuse for scenery chewing, but Chatterton wisely played the role with restraint in a performance suggesting that the problems with her box office may have more to do with Warner's script choices than her own abilities. Completed a few months before strict Production Code enforcement began, the film is not constrained by the Code's insistence that all criminals be punished. As a result, the picture generates some actual suspense over whether or not Chatterton will get away with murder. Like many studio films of the era, Journal of a Crime is filled with recognizable faces, including Douglas Dumbrille as the district attorney, Henry O'Neill as a doctor, Jane Darwell as a party guest and, if you don't blink, Walter Pidgeon as Dodd's on-stage leading man.

By Frank Miller

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