Movie Diary 3/14/2023

The Kiss Before the Mirror (James Whale, 1933). A “crime of passion”: Paul Lukas shoots his adulterous wife Gloria Stuart, and lawyer-friend Frank Morgan takes the case as he discovers that his own spouse (Nancy Carroll) is straying. A very odd set-up/argument for a movie, leading to a long and fairly dull courtroom sequence. Whale and cinematographer Karl Freund go for some fluid camera prowling, and there’s an expressionist feel to the jailhouse material, thanks to what looks like the leftover Frankenstein sets. Lukas is in expressionist mode as well, staying at a disturbingly high pitch throughout. Not a success overall, but shot through with interesting touches, like a 360 pan in the courtroom and a pair of gay court reporters. Walter Pidgeon plays the lover in the opening scene – woodenly.