Raffles (1930): Ernest William Hornung Novel on Screen, Starring Ronald Colman

Goldwyn Production (UA Release)

Ernest William Hornung’s popular novel, “Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman,” has been made into a play and then a movie at least four times.

The Goldwyn production of 1930, the first in sound, followed the silent versions of 1914 starring John Barrymore, the 1917 remake with House Peters.

This film preceded the 1939 Goldwyn remake starring David Niven and Olivia De Havilland (in the Kay Francis role).

A Spanish-language film was made in 1960, featuring Rafael Bertrand in the lead.

In Sidney Howard’s shapely narrative of the novel, the elegant British actor Ronald Colman plays A.J. Raffles, an unflappable British gentleman cricket player, who lives a double life–by night he is a thief. He is known in the media as the Amateur Cracksman, which upsets the Scotland Yard.

Things change, when Raffles falls in love with society girl Gwen Manders (Kay Francis), which causes him to rethink his life style.  He says he plans to give up his criminal pursuits after helping a needy soul, the indebted Bunny (Bramwell Fletcher), by stealing the invaluable necklace of Lady Melrose (Alison Skipworth) at a weekend party.

Unfortunately, the party is also attended by Inspector McKenzie (David Torrence), who begins to suspect that Raffles and the Cracksman are the same man.

Complicating matters is a rival crook named Crawshaw (John Rogers), who is also after the same necklace, which makes him a natural scapegoat.

George Fitzmaurice is credited as the solo director of Raffles, he was actually the replacement for Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast, who was fired during production.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Sound Recording: Oscar Lagerstrom

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

This was the first year that the Academy bestowed an award for sound achievement.

The winner of the Sound Recording Oscar was Douglas Shearer (brother of movie star Norma Shearer) for ”The Nig House.”

Running time: 70 Minutes