The Hitchcock Haul: Young and Innocent  (1937)

MV5BMTExMjk2NTMyODBeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDcyMzMyMjE@._V1_SX214_A violent murder. A severe misunderstanding. An unlikely pair on the run. A camaraderie born. Clues! Sounds like a classic Hitchcock to me.

Known in the US as The Girl Was Young, Hitchcock’s British Young and Innocent stars the little girl from The Man Who Knew Too MuchNova Pilbeam, as the Chief Constable’s daughter who finds herself on the run with murder suspect Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney).

The film begins on a stormy night (best way to start anything, in my opinion). A famous actress argues with her estranged husband about an affair she may or may not be having. After she half-heartedly slaps him several times, he walks out into the rain offering nothing but a really awkward facial twitch as a response. The next morning, the actress’ strangled body is found dumped in the ocean by none other than the man her husband accused her of fraternizing with: Robert Tisdall.

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The Hitchcock Haul: The Man Who Knew Too Much Double Feature

imagesHitchcock made The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934 during his career in England. It starred Peter Lorre and was a hit at the box office and with critics. In 1956 while in America, he remade The Man Who Knew Too Much to fulfill a contract obligation with Paramount and cast Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day as the leads. He agreed with the studio heads that his original was a great film with room for wonderful improvement in the new era of filmmaking. This week I watched both versions of the film back to back, and came to the conclusion that the 1956 version may have been a better film at the time, but that ruling doesn’t stand today. Ultimately, I think the 1934 version is more engaging and a better example of storytelling.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Rich and Strange  (1931)

RichStrangeWow. Rich and Strange is definitely strange, and I loved it! It also goes by the name of East of Shanghai and is one of Hitchcock’s earlier ventures while still in England. It’s kind of hard for me to organize my thoughts about it. I’d never heard of it before. I had no idea what it was about, and it really took me by surprise. Unlike Hitchcock’s usual grind, Rich and Strange is more of a dramedy focused on a middle class couple, Fred (Henry Kendall) and Emily (Joan Barry), who inherit a large sum of money and blow it on an extravagant trip around the world.

While on the trip, both meet and fall in love with other people. They begin harboring resentments toward one another, and it isn’t until both their lovers leave them (one with the remainder of their money) and the ship they’re on sinks that they rediscover their appreciation for one another. The final patch on their relationship comes in the form of a new inside joke between the two after being rescued by a Chinese junk and getting sick when they realize they just ate a stir fry full of cat. Racist, but delightful.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Jamaica Inn  (1939)

Jamaica_inn_2480003bSet in the early 1800s, Jamaica Inn takes place in seaside Cornwall, which apparently was a bit disorderly and mutinous back in the day. The area, comprised of poor and perhaps desperate people, was very prone to shipwrecks. There weren’t any proper lighthouses, just a few pathetic beacons from homes along the coast. What happens when you combine shipwrecks and desperate people? Some pretty devious crime, that’s what. Add a ballsy young lady with a sympathetic heart, and you’ve got a fascinating stage for Hitchcock’s first adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier work (the others being Rebecca and The Birds). Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it should have been.

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The Hitchcock Haul: To Catch a Thief  (1955)

220px-To_Catch_a_ThiefI’ll admit, I trailed off a bit in the middle of Hitchcock‘s To Catch a Thief. The movie is so incredibly pretty that I kind of turned off my critical brain and focused on my instant gratification brain. It doesn’t help that the plot is rather standard without many twists to keep you on your feet.

Written by John Michael Hayes (a frequent Hitchcock collaborator), To Catch a Thief was loosely based on the novel of the same name by David Dodge. I haven’t read the book, but if I’d imagine it’s fun for the beach.

But seriously, the film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography, and by god it earned it! Also, with the added glamour of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, good luck keeping your focus on what’s actually happening.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Sabotage  (1936)

tumblr_miie7iws4J1qa6obyo1_500Adapted from Joseph Conrad‘s 1907 novel The Secret Agent, Sabotage (alternately titled, The Woman Alone) focuses on the investigation into a series of terrorist attacks in London. A young woman, Mrs. Verloc (Sylvia Sidney), runs a movie theater with her husband, Karl Verloc (Oskar Homolka), and her younger brother Stevie (Desmond Tester). Soon after the attacks begin, a charming grocer befriends Mrs. Verloc. This grocer is undercover Detective Sergeant Ted Spencer (John Loder) of the Scotland Yard. As he slyly attempts to pry information from the innocent and oblivious woman, she starts to suspect that something is awry with her husband.

Sabotage

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