The original poster for the 1933 film, The Sin of Nora Moran, is extremely rare and worth nearly $50,000, and this work of art is often listed as one of the best movie posters of all time. A Peruvian painter named Alberto Vargas created this poster, which features a beautiful and scantily clad woman, hiding her face behind her lush blond hair. Vargas was a world renowned artist famous for his pin-ups. Though the poster is exquisite, it’s also a little misleading. The Sin of Nora Moran, which was directed by Phil Goldstone and produced by Larry Darmour, doesn’t have a character in the film that resembles the blond woman in the poster. The actress who plays the titular character is Austrian-Hungarian actress Zita Johann, who’s also beautiful, but with dark, short hair and shows none of the provocation that one would expect after seeing the movie poster. However, perhaps in this respect, the poster is indeed perfect because this movie is about the danger of jumping to conclusions before we know the whole story.
The film opens with Mrs. Edith Crawford bringing letters from her husband’s former lover to the District Attorney John Grant (performed by Alan Dinehart), who was close friends with her husband. Mrs. Crawford is infuriated and wants revenge, but the lawyer stops her and tells her to sit down and listen to what he has to tell her. The lawyer shows Mrs. Crawford a newspaper article declaring the death sentence for a young woman who committed murder. The young woman is Nora Moran, Mr. Crawford’s lover. However, the lawyer goes on to explain that sometimes things are not always what they seem. Yes, her husband had an affair with a woman charged with murder, but this woman wasn’t the kind of person Mrs. Crawford assumed her to be.
Through a series of flashbacks, the audience gets to know this infamous woman that Mrs. Crawford is ready to judge harshly. Before the murder, Nora Moran was an aspiring actress. In order to make ends meet, she joined a circus, where she becomes with involved with an abusive man named Paulino. It’s an affair that comes back to haunt her, especially after she distances herself from the carnival world. She goes on to have an affair with Dick Crawford, a governor and the husband to Mrs. Crawford. At one point in the film, Nora says that the happiest time in her life was those few months when she lived in a house that Mr. Crawford had set up for her. Even when faced with the death sentence, Nora states that she would have done it all over again.
Nora claims full responsibility for the murder charges against her, but Grant feels that something is amiss. However, Nora takes a vow of silence on the matter. She confronts her fate with acceptance and serenity. Because Nora did have an affair with a married man, people like Mrs. Crawford feel that Nora deserves punishment. It is not until the very end of the movie, that the full truth comes to light and Mrs. Crawford learns an important lesson about judging a person before learning the entire story. Life is rarely ever simple enough for a person to be 100% innocent or guilty.
Unfortunately, in this case, the movie poster is better known than the film. In the age of information, The Sin of Nora Moran is an important film to watch. Due to the plethora of media and information available at our fingertips, we are vulnerable to assuming more than what we actually know. As a wise Native American saying admonishes, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes (moccasins).” Besides the important message, this 85-year-old film is a beautiful work of art. Some movies are timeless and remain relatable decades after their release. The Sin of Nora Moran is definitely one of them. The poster you see below is a very high quality recreation of the original.