Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Rich And Strange (1931)


Beefing on Hitchcock
Rich And Strange

A young married couple, Fred and Emily, inherits some money and goes on a voyage around the world. After Emily begins an affair with a wealthy bachelor, Commander Gordon, Fred meets a German princess for an affair of his own. They both decide to leave their spouse and run away with their new-found loves, but when Gordon informs Emily that the "princess" her husband loves is really conning him, she decides to return to Fred only to find his money all gone. The couple returns home as poor as they began.

The fourteenth motion picture by Alfred Hitchcock is quite unique. Rich And Strange is practically a hybrid between the older silent films and the newer sound films at the time. The film uses many of the older techniques of film-making that were phased out with the introduction of sound, namely the make-up, broad exaggerated style of acting, and excessive use of inter-titles setting up and explaining scenes. Honestly, I've never quite seen a movie made in this fashion. Everything about the movie screams "silent film" except for the fact that sound is used quite properly throughout.

As for the story and characters, this is easily one of the best and most entertaining of Hitchcock's few romantic comedies. There are no real plot twists that catch you off-guard, no suspense, no mystery... It's just a fun romp across the globe on a luxury liner, with a pretty decent love story filled with lies and betrayal. The dialogue is quirky and funny, and there is plenty of unspoken slapstick that adds to the enjoyment of the film.

My personal favourite part of the film is the fifth character, a bumbling old maid who is simply out to get a man, no matter who it might end up being. She acts as mere comic relief through the entire film, and does a fantastic job at stealing many scenes. The actress, Elsie Randolph, was terrific and actually appeared in one more Hitchcock movie 41 years later in 1972's Frenzy. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for her next time I watch.

I really have no complaints about the movie whatsoever. Even the awkward line walked between silent and sound film techniques wasn't distracting and just felt comfortable and right for this movie. While I wouldn't place this in his top 10, Rich And Strange definitely grabs a special spot in the Hitchcock motion picture catalog. I definitely suggest finding one of those "20 movies for 10 bucks" box sets with the film included and give this a watch.