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Furies from the 1930s

By Paul Watson on .

My friend Michael Kemp just pointed me at an interpretation of the Furies that I hadn’t seen before — Slavko Vorkapić’s excellent montage sequence for the 1934 film Crime Without Passion (written and directed by Charles MacArthur & Ben Hecht).

Slavko Vorkapić (1894–1976) was a Serbian-American film director and editor, but perhaps better known as a Special Effects Technician.

Filmreference.com has an entry for him which mentions this fantastic sequence:

When working with filmmakers of an adventurous frame of mind, Vorkapich seized the opportunity to introduce expressionist elements into his work, and some of his most imaginative effects occur in the montages he devised, working closely with cinematographer Lee Garmes, for Hecht and MacArthur’s Crime without Passion.

The opening credits show three winged Furies darting through the canyons of New York to seize at random upon their victims; when crooked lawyer Claude Rains shoots the dancer who is blackmailing him, the Furies emerge from a drop of her blood as it falls in slow-motion and wheel vengefully out into the night, feasting their eyes on the violence of the city.

I just love the way the Furies are visualised in this montage. Spectacular!

Just for the record, the Furies were played by Dorothy Bradshaw, Fraye Gilbert, and Betty Sundmark.