The Florentine Dagger (1935)

Article #710 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-23-2003
Posting Date: 7-23-2003
Directed by Robert Florey
Featuring Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay, C. Aubrey Smith

A man obsessed with the fact that he is a descendant of the Borgias believes that he may have committed the murder of the father of his bride-to-be.

It may take a little while before you realize you’re watching a murder mystery; the first half of the movie is mostly concerned with an elaborate backstory. Yet, that’s no real problem here; the backstory is unusually interesting, and sets up some interesting obsessions and motifs that carry through the movie as a whole. The story (by Ben Hecht) is interesting in that it could have been done equally well as a horror movie by emphasizing certain aspects and downplaying others; in fact, had it been a horror movie, we would have most likely been allowed to see something in the final reel that in this version is kept under wraps. Overall, a quite entertaining movie, with good performances by all the principals, though Robert Barrat (as the unctuous womanizing Inspector in charge of the investigation) is having entirely too much fun, but after all, he gets all the best lines.


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