Raffles (1930)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Master Criminal Films  |   Run Time - 70 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The title character in the stories and stage play upon which Raffles is based came to define the concept of the "gentleman thief," in much the same way that Sherlock Holmes defined the concept of "detective." At the time of this 1930 film, the character had already been brought to the screen twice, and would be brought back several more times over the succeeding decades. Arguably, this appearance is, all told, his finest. While there are some that might champion David Niven or John Barrymore as the ultimate interpreter of the part, even they would have to admit that it's a close contest when Ronald Colman's Raffles is added into the mix. Colman is a sheer delight here, bringing his savoir faire, easy charm and grace, abundant vocal talent, good looks and keen acting ability to the part and triumphing magnificently. He is aided by the direction of George Fitzmaurice (credited) and perhaps also by that of Harry D'Abbadie D'Arrast (uncredited, and let go from the project after disagreeing with producer Samuel Goldwyn.) Whoever is ultimately responsible, he keeps things moving at a lovely pace, building tension as necessary and stopping for the romantic interlude as necessary before continuing merrily on the way. Kay Francis makes a dandy Lady Gwen, and Alison Skipworth is a treat as Lady Melrose.