Time Works for the Murderer

Jiří Hanibal, 1979



Václav Erben’s novel Efektivně mrtvá žena (An Effectively Dead Woman, 1970) was the basis for a detective drama made by the director Jiří Hanibal in 1979. The crime genre is an unusual aberration in his filmography. Nonetheless, the well-crafted Čas pracuje pro vraha (Time Works for the Murderer) ticks all the boxes for what was considered a crowd-pleasing detective movie at that time. However, unlike the book that inspired the film, which featured Erben’s most popular hero – the elegant skirt-chasing Capitan Michal Exner – the movie’s protagonist is called Jindřich Marha. He is married and – like the book – is on the trail of a murderer who killed a seemingly unimpeachable young woman, Věra Šimandlová. Besides her husband, those suspected of murdering Věra also include some of her colleagues at the large press agency where she worked. An unknown assailant tries to take Marha out of the game. However, thanks to his co-workers, the tireless crime-fighter continues his investigation from his hospital bed. Eventually, it transpires that Věra was a blackmailer embroiled in a treasonous plot aimed at ensuring the defection of a group of scientists to a capitalist country… František Němec plays the lead role in this 1970s film, which combines a classic detective story with a tendentious political intrigue about the “brain drain to the West.” In the 1970s and 80s, Němec was a popular choice of actor to play the role of someone defending official Czechoslovak justice with a human face. Besides his work duties, Captain Marha has a very visible private life. Not only is he battling with a cigarette addiction, at one stage his problems with his wife, Eva, push the investigation of the crime to one side (even though it ultimately doesn’t resolve anything between them). Other parts in Time Works for the Murderer were played by popular actors: Luděk Munzar and Eduard Cupák played suspects who were reporters at the press agency, which is reminiscent of the national news bureau ČTK. The role of Věra’s plumber husband was played by the outstanding Josef Somr.
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About a film

film_production_year 1979
film_countries Czechoslovakia
film_genres detective, crime
film_form feature
film_duration 83 min
film_director Jiří Hanibal
film_cast František Němec, Luděk Munzar, Eduard Cupák, Josef Somr, Oldřich Vlach, Jiří Pleskot
film_director_of_photography Josef Pávek
film_screenplay Jiří Hanibal
film_film_editor Zdeněk Stehlík
film_production_designer Jaroslav Krška
film_music_composed_by Jan Hrábek
film_sound_designer Jiří Lenoch