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The Sin of Nora Moran

The Sin of Nora Moran
November 3, 2018 - 7:00 pm
Q&A with actress Cora Sue Collins, UCLA professor Jonathan Kuntz.

Please note: this screening takes place at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Tickets are available online only.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by the Packard Humanities Institute

The Sin of Nora Moran  (1933)

The Sin of Nora Moran is neither classic, nor camp, but a unique mélange of both. Its standard pre-Code plot (victimized woman descends into a life of degradation) and extremely low budget were common to B-pictures of the period. The film’s promotional materials tend to exploit the salacious angle. But it’s the telling of the story that elevates Nora Moran into a class all its own. This it accomplishes through a series of flashbacks, flash-forwards and flashbacks-within-flashbacks so complex that the entire narrative structure quickly ceases to make sense, assuming a free-form, dream-like quality that enhances rather than detracts from it.

Contemporary reviews likened it to The Power and the Glory, due to its borrowing of that picture’s narrative devices. Although the Sturges-Howard collaboration clearly is the better film, it’s still the more traditional of the two for all its revolutionary technique. Certainly nothing like Nora Moran had ever come from Phil Goldstone, a Poverty Row producer since 1921 whose best-known effort remains The Vampire Bat (1933). Sources speculate that someone other than Goldstone, who took over from the original director, Howard Christy, was responsible. However the film happened, film buffs rejoice. Haunting, hallucinatory, artistic, exploitative—this may be the best B-film of the 1930s.

DCP, b/w, 65 min. Director: Phil Goldstone. Production: Majestic Pictures Corp. Producer: Phil Goldstone. Screenwriter: Frances Hyland, based on the play by W. Maxwell Goodhue. Cinematographer: Ira Morgan. Art Director: Ralph Oberg. Editor: Otis Garrett. Cast: Zita Johann, John Miljan, Alan Dinehart, Paul Cavanaugh, Claire Dubrey, Cora Sue Collins.

Restored from the original 35mm nitrate camera negative and a 35mm nitrate picture and track workprint, in cooperation with Independent-International Pictures. Laboratory services by John E. Allen, Cinema Arts, Inc. Sound services by Peter Oreckinto, DJ Audio, and John Polito, Audio Mechanics. Special thanks to: Sam Sherman, David Shepard, David Pierce, Duke Goldstone and Michael Kolvek.

Preceded by

Hearst Metrotone News, Vol. 4, No. 269 (1933)

Short newsreel.

Balloon Land (1935)

Short animation. Director: Ib Iwerks.