Rynox (1932)

Run Time - 48 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |  
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Review by Bruce Eder

The secret behind Rynox and other "quota quickies" -- so-called for being produced under the 1930s government-mandated minimum quota for British-produced movies shown in British theaters -- was to make something out of nothing. Or not quite nothing, but never more than the equivalent of 17 shillings and six pence (equal to about $5.25) spent for each foot of finished film; producers of the quota quickies were budgeted at a pound (roughly six dollars American) per foot of finished film, and the profit lay in the two and a half shillings (about 75 cents) per foot difference between what was budgeted and what was spent. Michael Powell and producer Jerome Jackson did a lot more than that on Rynox which, clocking in at 48 minutes, probably stretched that formula to the breaking point in terms of the smallest amount of money that could be used to generate a feature film. Using no more than four sets, an array of intriguing shots and edits, and good cast working at a brisk pace with a fascinating story, Powell's shortest feature film never leaves the viewer feeling short-changed; indeed, the camera placement and the design of various scenes (including some superb use of mirrors), the editing, and the pacing, coupled with a nice, realistic Art Deco design for the one truly important set, all combine to make this a diverting and satisfying mystery-drama, complete with suspense and some character development. What's more, the movie gave renowned silent-era British leading man Stewart Rome one of his finest showcases in a talking picture, and features a charming performance by late-'20s British ingenue Dorothy Boyd.