It’s pretty rare when a film from the 30’s gets a breath of fresh air and is released on an HD format. Part of what makes collecting blu-ray and 4K UHD movies so damn exciting to me is for times when such an occurrence takes place. This is the reason that companies like Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome, and, in this case, The Film Detective, are atop my list of favorites to collect.
Not only do these companies find some of the more obscure titles out there to release on home video, but they also spend a great deal of time and energy to carefully restore these films for people like me. There’s something to be said about the craftsmanship that goes into these efforts, and, honestly, I think it goes criminally under appreciated. I think the reason for this is that most people don’t really think about what goes into releasing something like this, and others see minor imperfections in the finished product and think it was due to some half assed job. In reality, this stuff is hard to do, and you are only able to work with what you’ve got.
But enough of my rant. Today, I am going to talk to you a bit about The Sin of Nora Moran. This captivating little surprise of a story first released in 1933, and stars Zita Johann, who some will remember from 1932’s The Mummy. For some reason, she stopped acting after only eight films, and passed away back in 1993. It’s a shame she wasn’t in more movies, because I really enjoyed her here.
Zita plays the titular character, a woman with a strange past who catches the eye of a married politician who just can’t quit her. However, one thing leads to another, and Zita must make a choice between claiming responsibility for a murder that she may or may not have committed, facing the death penalty if she does, or, speaking out on her affair and possibly irreversibly damaging those that she loves and respects.
While the synopsis is not entirely new or unique, even in it’s time almost a hundred years ago, it was quite unique in one aspect – that of time. The movie plays with time in a fairly innovative and interesting way, jumping back and forth a few times, giving you as the audience just enough of a shift to second guess your intuitions and provide enough backstory to give doubt to the reliability of Nora. It’s quite a fun ride, and I really enjoyed seeing this tactic taken to make this movie fresh and one of a kind.
As mentioned above, this movie was restored from a source that is nearing a hundred years old. For it’s age, it looks pretty great. There are some imperfections here and there, including a few jumped frames and some visible damage, but to be honest, it wasn’t distracting and makes you really feel that you are watching a relic. I found it a worthwhile restoration and a pleasure to watch.
The sound, however, was not as easily polished, unfortunately. With a DTS-Master Audio 2.0 channel track, the audio suffered what is quite common from films of this era with a lack of depth and warmth that can be frustrating from time to time. It’s not bad, or by any means a deal breaker at all, it just sort of reminds you of how big a delta we have made over the years in terms of making a warm and lived in sounding audio track.
The Sin of Nora Moran comes in a beautiful black amaray case with great art on the disc and case. Inside, you find a very small booklet with essays.
- The Mysterious Life of Zita Johann – a nearly twenty minute long collection of film snippets and stills while Samual Sherman discusses finding this film and talks about the lead star, Zita Johann.
Our Recommendation for The Sin of Nora Moran:
Even with a short runtime of barely over an hour, The Sin of Nora Moran is a rarity, and a fun one to boot. The Film Detective has been rocking it lately with their pressed-disc releases and fantastic (and eye catching) packaging. I highly recommend rewarding their efforts and expanding your collection with this release.