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Rynox (1931)

British Film Institute

Main image of Rynox (1931)
DirectorMichael Powell
Production CompanyFilm Engineering Company
ProducerJerome Jackson
Based on the novel byPhilip MacDonald
PhotographyGeoffrey Faithfull
 Arthur Grant

Cast: Stewart Rome (F.X. Benedik); Dorothy Boyd (Peter); John Longden (Anthony X. 'Tony' Benedik); Edmund Willard (Captain James); Sybil Grove (secretary)

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A mysterious man murders F.X. Benedik, the director of the ailing Rynox Company.

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Rynox (1931) is the earliest surviving of Michael Powell's films and it benefits enormously from an interesting cast, stylish filming and an ingenious plot. The film was based on a novel by Philip MacDonald, one of the most popular thriller writers of his day (he published seven novels in 1931 alone). He and Powell eventually worked on five films together.

When first released, Rynox was greeted with extravagant praise by the British press. C.A. Lejeune in The Observer famously claimed that "Powell's Rynox shows what a good movie brain can do... this is the sort of pressure under which a real talent is shot red-hot into the world." John Grierson, writing a review in the Everyman, entitled 'As Good as Hollywood', boldly stated that "there never was an English film so well made."

Powell's direction already shows his characteristic energy and visual imagination, as well as his debt to the German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s. Rynox is full of quick cuts, tracking shots, unusual angles as well as montages, all of which help effectively to draw attention away from Benedik's disguise as Marsh as well as the film's small budget (it all takes place on only six main sets, with few location shots added). Although nowadays one of the film's principal delights is seeing radio announcer Leslie Mitchell in an acting role, the film also boasts an excellent performance by Stewart Rome who totally convinces in the dual roles of Benedik and Marsh.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. The gun shop (2:39)
2. Flashback explanation (2:40)
Powell, Michael (1905-1990)
Rome, Stewart (1886-1965)
Early Michael Powell