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also known as Voice from the Grave

The Sin of Nora Moran1933

  • 3.7
A weird and wonderful slab of homegrown surrealism, THE SIN OF NORA MORAN’s surprisingly complex narration and florid montage editing makes it well-deserving of the UCLA Festival of Preservation’s accolades as “haunting, hallucinatory, artistic, exploitative…maybe the best Hollywood B-movie of the 1930s.” Best known in its day for its salacious poster, Phil Goldstone’s cheapie has enough nested flashbacks to doom a dozen film noirs, striking given the early production date. Indeed, THE SIN OF NORA MORAN can be said to anticipate the elaborate narrative designs of CITIZEN KANE and Edgar Ulmer’s RUTHLESS even as the story stays on Pre-Code level of adultery, opiates, execution and circus sideshows. Women’s picture conventions of suffering and self-sacrifice are pushed to delirious extremes, with the titular heroine finally coming to seem like Poverty Row’s very own Joan of Arc.

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Member Reviews (7)

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top reviewer

A somewhat untypical melodramatic potboiler with a histrionic performance by Zita Johann. Great gobs of preachy narration is made a little palatable by some interesting film techniques. Many films from this time period (Madame X, Madelon Claudet, etc.) focused on the self-sacrificing female and the craven men who victimized them.

1 member likes this review

A disappointing film, given the description. I see nothing nothing even remotely surreal about it, more like a generic low-budget piece that relies on over complicated plotting and a few camera tricks rather than good film making.

1 member likes this review

ATTENTION: SPOILERS. Poor Nora Moran. She was an orphin who got adopted then we see her as a show girl in a circus, and strongly intimated that she was raped by the lion tamer, then she is the mistress of the governor and accidentally kills the lion tamer but gets the district attorney to help her dispose of the body but then she gets caught and confesses and never divulges about her affair with the governor (who wanted to get a divorce and marry her). Now she's on death row and the governor-lover wont, can't, isn't going to commute her sentence. So she gets the chair. The sub-plot about the D.A>'s sister (who is the governors wife) and the love letters is an effective way to tell the story of poor Nora. 3 decent stars.

Really interesting movie - especially for one that was completely unknown to me before I took a chance on it. Narrative structure is very innovative - almost borders on magic realism with some very fantastic elements I thought it was well worth my time.

Excellent twists and turns.

Strange, corny, gripping. The lead actress was very good, a little off -beat.

excellent!!!