The Sin of Nora Moran (1933)

62 or 65 mins | Mystery | 13 December 1933

Writer:

Frances Hyland

Producer:

Phil Goldstone

Cinematographer:

Ira Morgan

Editor:

Otis Garrett

Production Designer:

Ralph Oberg

Production Company:

Majestic Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Woman in the Chair . According to a HR news item, after filming began, producer Phil Goldstone took over as director from Howard Christy. The news item noted that Goldstone banned all visitors from the set and put a guard at the stage door on the lookout for reporters. Reviewers commented that this film borrowed the technique of "narratage" from the Fox production, The Power and the Glory , produced by Jesse L. Lasky, directed by William K. Howard and written by Preston Sturges, which was released earlier in 1933 (see above). The term "narratage" was coined by the Fox publicity department to describe the technique that Sturges used of telling his story in a series of flashbacks, some of which were narrated, that were not arranged in chronological order. NYT , in comparing the two films, echoes other reviews in commenting that The Sin of Nora Moran "lacks the clarity, the efficient acting and the good writing of the Jesse Lasky production." In addition to using the Sturges technique, this film played with the time element, so that in some scenes set in the past, the characters know what will occur in the future. Alternately, in one scene, the character in the present is dressed from a period in her past. In the murder sequence, the film contains an effect in which the frame seems to separate in half. According to a HR news item, John Miljan was loaned from M-G-M. Gilbert Emery was listed as a cast member in a HH production ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Woman in the Chair . According to a HR news item, after filming began, producer Phil Goldstone took over as director from Howard Christy. The news item noted that Goldstone banned all visitors from the set and put a guard at the stage door on the lookout for reporters. Reviewers commented that this film borrowed the technique of "narratage" from the Fox production, The Power and the Glory , produced by Jesse L. Lasky, directed by William K. Howard and written by Preston Sturges, which was released earlier in 1933 (see above). The term "narratage" was coined by the Fox publicity department to describe the technique that Sturges used of telling his story in a series of flashbacks, some of which were narrated, that were not arranged in chronological order. NYT , in comparing the two films, echoes other reviews in commenting that The Sin of Nora Moran "lacks the clarity, the efficient acting and the good writing of the Jesse Lasky production." In addition to using the Sturges technique, this film played with the time element, so that in some scenes set in the past, the characters know what will occur in the future. Alternately, in one scene, the character in the present is dressed from a period in her past. In the murder sequence, the film contains an effect in which the frame seems to separate in half. According to a HR news item, John Miljan was loaned from M-G-M. Gilbert Emery was listed as a cast member in a HH production chart, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
14 Dec 33
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
23 Dec 33
p. 202.
HF
24 Jun 33
p. 8.
HH
22 Jun 33
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 33
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Dec 33
p. 34.
New York Times
13 Dec 33
p. 29.
Variety
19 Dec 33
p. 19.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Woman in the Chair
Release Date:
13 December 1933
Production Date:
June 1933 at Mack Sennett Studios
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor "High Fidelity" Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
62 or 65
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Edith Crawford, widow of Governor Dick Crawford, comes to her brother, District Attorney John Grant, with love letters she found in her husband's safe, John advises her to burn the letters. He then shows her a newspaper clipping about the other woman in her husband's life, Nora Moran, who was the first woman to die in the electric chair in twenty years, and tells Nora's story. In the past, as preparations are being made for her execution, the twenty-one-year-old Nora has a chance for a reprieve if she tells the reason she committed the murder with which she is charged. To quiet the distressed girl, she is given an opiate. Under the influence of the drug, Nora remembers her life as a child and the automobile crash over a cliff that killed her parents. In her memory, after she is refused a job dancing in a chorus, she convinces Paulino, a lion wrestler with a traveling circus, to hire her as his assistant. She is happy until Paulino enters her train suite and rapes her. Still under the opiate's influence, Nora relives events from her past and questions whether it ultimately was a good thing that she left the circus. She remembers that later, as a dancing girl, she met Crawford, danced with him, spent a week of romance with him and received a ring from him. Edith now breaks into John's story and angrily states that while Crawford and Nora were enjoying their romance, she was slaving for Crawford. John then rebukes his sister, reminding her that she wanted Crawford because of social ambition, and he admits that the reason he groomed ... +


When Edith Crawford, widow of Governor Dick Crawford, comes to her brother, District Attorney John Grant, with love letters she found in her husband's safe, John advises her to burn the letters. He then shows her a newspaper clipping about the other woman in her husband's life, Nora Moran, who was the first woman to die in the electric chair in twenty years, and tells Nora's story. In the past, as preparations are being made for her execution, the twenty-one-year-old Nora has a chance for a reprieve if she tells the reason she committed the murder with which she is charged. To quiet the distressed girl, she is given an opiate. Under the influence of the drug, Nora remembers her life as a child and the automobile crash over a cliff that killed her parents. In her memory, after she is refused a job dancing in a chorus, she convinces Paulino, a lion wrestler with a traveling circus, to hire her as his assistant. She is happy until Paulino enters her train suite and rapes her. Still under the opiate's influence, Nora relives events from her past and questions whether it ultimately was a good thing that she left the circus. She remembers that later, as a dancing girl, she met Crawford, danced with him, spent a week of romance with him and received a ring from him. Edith now breaks into John's story and angrily states that while Crawford and Nora were enjoying their romance, she was slaving for Crawford. John then rebukes his sister, reminding her that she wanted Crawford because of social ambition, and he admits that the reason he groomed Crawford for the governorship was to further his own political power. John says that because he was afraid of a possible scandal, he investigated Nora and learned that Crawford set her up in a house across the state line, where they would see each other Mondays and Fridays. In the past, John rings Nora's bell, and knowing what will happen in the future, she contemplates not answering, but she fatalistically realizes that she must answer the door. John talks to Nora, and it is only when he threatens to break the story of the scandal that Nora learns Crawford is married and running for governor. To give Crawford the wrong opinion of her so that he will break up with her, Nora falsely confesses relationships with other men, after which he leaves in disgust. Alone with John, Nora, knowing what is about to happen, confesses that she is terrified of going through the murder again, and John blames himself for not leaving soon enough. In prison, Nora, nearly insane from her memories and the effect of the drug, pleads that she not be allowed to go back to sleep. John, continuing the story to Edith, says that Crawford, now governor, refused to grant Nora a stay. John says that on the night of the murder, Nora refused his money and resolved to leave town on the next train. That night, she telephones John at his hotel for help, and when he arrives at her house, she shows him the body of Paulino, whom, she says, she killed with a whip when he threatened to blackmail Crawford. John and Nora plan to make it appear that Paulino died in a drunken fall from the circus train, but Nora is apprehended. John explains to Edith that Nora refused a lawyer, even though he could have gotten her off. The night of Nora's execution, Crawford denies her reprieve and remembers returning to Nora's the night of the crime and finding Paulino there. After Paulino threatens to blackmail Crawford, they struggle. As Paulino chokes Crawford, Crawford strikes him with the whip handle. Realizing that Paulino is dead, Nora convinces Crawford to leave so that their happiness together will not be tainted by scandal. As Nora is about to be executed, Crawford talks with her apparition. She says that there is nothing to fear in death and she is dying for the good things he will do. Although she argues against a pardon, Crawford confesses that he killed Paulino and tries to pardon her, but his telephone line is dead. As Nora's smiling vision disappears, he realizes that she is dead. Hearing her voice repeat that there is nothing to fear in death, Crawford writes a letter to John and shoots himself. After John asks Edith whether the story will end or begin there, she gives him Nora's letters, which he burns. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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