Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Early Hitchcock

I finished off the first stage of my Hitchcock season yesterday evening with the completion of Studio Canal’s 2007 Early Hitchcock Collection boxset which contains 9 films made between 1927 and 1932, a whirlwind period of activity which saw Hitchcock make the transition from Silent to Sound and direct some of his most uncharacteristic films. Among them the genuinely bizarre and delightful 1931 sound film Rich and Strange (pictured below), a picaresque tale about a bored married couple who take a sea voyage from Marseilles to Singapore and encounter exotic strangers, Chinese pirates, and cat stew. What’s more, the film includes ill-matched stock footage, jolting jump cuts, and witty intertitles (Jean-Luc Godard was probably an admirer).

The Studio Canal set has some omissions from this 5 year run of films - the 1928 Silent, Easy Virtue, the 1931 German language version of Murder! (re-titled Mary), and 1929’s Juno and the Paycock, a very early sound adaptation of Sean O'Casey's great Dublin play. I’m particularly interested in seeing Juno and the Paycock, not the most fondly regarded film of the director’s British years, but the long takes that Hitchcock devised for his run of play adaptations makes the film as near a record of what the play might have been like on the Abbey stage in the mid-twenties. There’s several public domain DVDs to choose from but all reports suggest the film looks and sounds like it was taken from a ragged 16mm print. The next Hitchcock on the list is the original 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, where the Master finds his mojo…

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