Movie Review: Raffles (1939)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1939 crime drama starring David Niven and Olivia de Havilland.

Synopsis: Well-known cricketer A. J. Raffles moonlights as a daring art and jewelry thief. But, when he is re-introduced to a friend's sister, he falls in love and, because of that, decides to give up his life of crime. However, when his friend threatens to kill himself over money issues, Raffles decides to pull off one last jewelry theft. Unfortunately, a Scotland Yard detective has grown suspicious of him and is determined to catch him in the act.


My wife had to work last night and, as is usually the case, I put the kids to bed and looked for a movie to watch while waiting up for her. I came across this particular film and, thinking it sounded somewhat interesting, decided to watch it. As it turns out, it was a pretty good movie.

One of the things I found I really liked about this movie was the cat-and-mouse drama between Raffles (Niven) and the Scotland Yard inspector (Digges) that was hot on his trail. When I started watching this movie, I figured it would be like some similar films I've seen and the inspector would be a bumbling idiot who was easily duped. Instead, the inspector proved to be Raffles' equal, quickly picking up on subtle clues, zeroing in on his suspect and staying focused even as Raffles tried to get him to pursue other suspects.

I also found I liked Raffles himself, mostly because, even though he was breaking the law, his motives for doing so seemed somewhat pure. Even before trying to steal an expensive necklace to help his friend, Bunny (Douglas Walton), he was quick to use his gift to help others, usually by allowing them to "find" the stolen item and return it for the reward money.

I think the most intriguing character in this, however, had to be Raffles' love interest, Gwen (de Havilland). She was the reason he was going to give up his life of crime and her brother, Bunny, was the reason he was trying to pull off the last caper. But, as she also grew suspicious, I found I was curious about how she would react to the truth. I didn't know if she would understand his reasons for committing the crime or if she would end up outing him to the authorities. And, that uncertainty did keep the movie from becoming anywhere near as predictable as I thought it would be.

Premium Movie Poster Reprint (12 x 18 Inch): Raffles, David Niven & Olivia De Havilland, 1939 (ap...

It's a good choice of your home decor, office decor, remarkable gifts for family or friends. It takes 2 business days to complete your order, and then it will be shipped in a pr...

View on Amazon

Final Opinion

I wasn't overly impressed with how the movie ended. But, overall, thought it was a good cat-and-mouse crime drama and I did enjoy watching it. If you haven't seen this classic film, it's worth watching on a rainy day.

My Grade: B

More By This Writer

Love Poems for My Wife

When Steve first met Cynthia back in 2000, he knew she was the woman for him and proposed to her just three months after their first date. Married to her since 2003, he has ofte...

View on Amazon

Angels Don't Always Have Wings: A Sinner's Poems of Faith

Steve never thought of himself as an overly religious person and had rarely set foot inside of a church. However, after agreeing to attend a service following a visit to a churc...

View on Amazon

Updated: 05/06/2019, StevenHelmer
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
DerdriuMarriner on 03/28/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
The library system here does not have Raffles among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. But it does have what appears to be a colorized reboot or remake, in two releases, as Raffles: The First Step and Raffles: To Catch a Thief, from 2002.

Would you all happen to have seen the above two films? Also, would you all happen to have seen the Elementary series episode, with Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes, in which Raffles is a character?

You might also like

Movie Review: Nancy Drew....Reporter (1939)

A review of the 1939 movie starring Bonita Granville and Frankie Thomas.

Movie Review: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939)

A review of the 1939 movie starring actress Bonita Granville as detective Nan...

Movie Review: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

A review of the 1939 monster movie starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...