Retrospektive 2018

The Crime of Dr. Crespi

John H. Auer
USA 1935

After his tragic fall from grace as a visionary but notoriously uncompromising director, Erich von Stroheim transitioned to a prolific but poignant career as an actor who brought a menacing Old World stoicism and indelible presence to his best roles, even in otherwise forgettable B-films. The Viennese educated Hungarian émigré John H. Auer gave Stroheim one of his memorable early roles as the titular Dr. Crespi, a venerated surgeon nursing a wounded heart and a festering jealousy of the rival surgeon who stole his girl. The presence of Dwight Frye (Reinfeld in Browning’s DRACULA and Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant in Whale’s iconic adaptation) signals an alignment with the then popular Gothic imbued horror films, a connection underscored by the film’s source in one of Edgar Allan Poe’s lesser known buried-alive nightmares. Rather than a dark castle or dungeon, THE CRIME OF DR. CRESPI is set largely within a white-on-white clinic transformed by Expressionist shadows into a dramatic stage for Von Stroheim’s fiendish plot to exert a cruel revenge. Auer’s independent production was picked up by the fledgling Republic as its first release and the first of many genre films Auer would direct for the studio. (Haden Guest)


  • Jean Brooks
  • Erich von Stroheim - Prinz Nicki von Wildeliebe-Rauffenberg
  • Paul Guilfoyle
  • Harriet Russell
  • Dwight Frye
  • John Bohn
  • Geraldine Kay
  • John H. Auer
  • Lou Goldberg
  • Edwin Olmstead based on The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Larry Williams
Republic Pictures
35 mm
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