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With: Zita Johann, John Miljan, Alan Dinehart, Paul Cavanagh, Claire Du Brey, Sarah Padden, Henry B. Walthall, Otis Harlan, Aggie Herring, Cora Sue Collins, Joseph W. Girard, Ann Brody, Rolfe Sedan
Written by: W. Maxwell Goodhue, Frances Hyland, based on a story by W. Maxwell Goodhue
Directed by: Phil Goldstone
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 65
Date: 12/13/1933

The Sin of Nora Moran (1933)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Some 'Sin' for Nuthin'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Best remembered for its provocative poster, The Sin of Nora Moran is a twisty little low-budget, pre-code thriller with lots of flashbacks packed into its 65 minutes. Zita Johann (also in The Mummy with Boris Karloff) stars as Nora Moran, an innocent woman arrested for murder and set to die on death row, but who won't identify the real killer. Her story begins as her foster parents die and she uses what little money she has left for dancing classes. Unable to get a job on stage, she joins a traveling circus. Her boss is vicious lion tamer Paulino (John Miljan), who (presumably) rapes her. She escapes and falls in love with Dick Crawford (Paul Cavanagh). He puts her up in an apartment and visits her twice a week. Unfortunately, Dick is married, and also running for governor! To make matters worse, Paulino returns! The story is told by a brother and sister, Dick's actual wife (Claire Du Brey), and district attorney John (Alan Dinehart), who helped get Dick elected. The story is a little soapy, and the ending may not entirely satisfy, but pre-code movies are always fascinating in that they're just a little grungier, a little more cruel, than ordinary movies, and this one is no exception (and with uses of "damn" and "hell," even!). The Film Detective released it in a gorgeous new restoration on Blu-ray for 2020. It includes a short documentary on Johann and optional subtitles.

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