Review: Crime and Punishment, USA

Crime and Punishment, USA is a noir from 1959 I recently caught on Turner Classic Movies.  This is a 1950’s version of the famous book by Fyodor Dostoevsky relocated to modern 1950’s Sana Monica, California.

This movie may be more of note for “Introducing” us to George Hamilton, then anything else.  This is Hamilton’s first film and he is our main star.  He had a few small television roles before this.  Hamilton is pretty good in this as a very smart law student.  He feels superior to others, because of his high intelligence and in different scenes he comes across as arrogant, humble, likable, evil, yet charming.  It’s a pretty good performance for a young actor.

Frank Silvera plays the homicide detective who believes Hamilton’s Robert is guilty of murder, but can not prove it.

Our story starts with a scene where we hear there is a murder and we see Hamilton faint in the street.  We soon find out it is a pawn shop owner that has been murdered and Hamilton’s friends feel he is sick and we see him in bed as his friends gather around his bed in concern.  We soon find Hamilton alone in his room and he pulls out a bag, we see gloves, a crowbar and a load of cash.  He hides the cash and soon leaves the apartment to dispose of the evidence.  We soon see a man in trouble, it looks like his heart.  Hamilton shows his good side and helps the man home.  He soon arrives home and finds his sister and mother waiting for him as they have come to town worried about him.  Him and his friend soon go to visit the police and we are introduced to Silvera, our head homicide detective.  Hamilton and his friend are there to retrieve a few items Hamilton has pawned at the shop of the dead women.  A cat and mouse chase between Hamilton and Silvera begins, but who is the cat and who is the mouse?

Though the two lead performances are very good, and this is based on one of the most classic books of all time, something is just off about this film.  I don’t know what it is, whether key story points from the book are not covered, or our supporting characters do not have enough character development, I do not know.  This was not a horrible film, it just seems like it could have been a lot better film.  Maybe this book isn’t the right source material for a noir film?  If you are a fan of the two stars it is worth a watch for their performances. If you want to see another adaptation of the source material you may find it interesting.

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