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Crime Without Passion + The Scoundrel


Location: Redstone Theater

Introduced by Adina Hoffman, author of Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures, who will be signing books after the screening of Underworld.

Crime Without Passion

Dirs. Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur. 1934, 70 mins. 35mm. With Claude Rains, Whitney Bourne, Margo. The first of four films written, produced, and directed by Hecht and his partner Charles MacArthur for Paramount Pictures focuses on amoral defense attorney Claude Rains, who has no conscience to interfere with his plans to get free of his mistress (Margo), though this will not save him from a flock of vengeful Furies, realized through the genius of montage master Slavko Vorkapich. Made with minimal interference from the studio and shot right here in Astoria by gifted cinematographer Lee Garmes, it became a surprise hit, and helped assure Hecht and MacArthur’s independence.

Followed by:

The Scoundrel

Dirs. Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur. 1935, 76 mins. 35mm. With Noël Coward, Julie Haydon, Stanley Ridges. The film debut of Noël Coward and the first and last movie to feature a performance by Algonquin Round Table mainstay Alexander Woollcott, Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s urbane, Astoria-shot take on the Dickensian supernatural morality tale features Coward as a recently deceased and widely detested publisher and sybarite who, following his plane crash, has to posthumously hit the streets of New York looking for someone, anyone, who regrets his demise. A peerless evocation of the tart-tongued, backbiting world of the New York literati by two members in good standing, The Scoundrel earned Hecht his second and final Oscar for Best Original Story. 

Tickets: $15 ($11 seniors and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / free for children under 3 and Museum members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels and above). Order tickets online. (Members may contact [email protected] with questions regarding online reservations.)

Ticket purchase includes same-day admission to the Museum (see gallery hours). View the Museum’s ticketing policy here. For more information on membership and to join online, visit our membership page.