The Hitchcock Haul: Juno and the Paycock (1929) aka My Unsolicited Thoughts on Adaptation

imgresOk, you’re all going to hate me for this, but I didn’t finish the movie. Maybe it was the awful digital restoration that was bothering me, or the fact that it was a poor adaptation of a brilliant play, but I found myself instantly zoning out and scrolling through Twitter as soon as it started.

Juno and the Paycock is based on the award-winning 1924 play by the Irish play write Sean O’Casey. I do not over exaggerate when I say that this play is massively popular in Ireland and incredibly important. I’m certain that if I went to see this performed on stage I’d be riveted and enjoy it greatly. But that’s because I’d be in a theater state of mind. As a film, it just couldn’t hold my attention.

WARNING: SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC TANGENT BELOW

Adaptation is a very tricky thing. It requires a complete overhaul of the source material to properly convert it to the new medium. Juno and the Paycock was released when film was still relatively new. A lot of the times people thought they could just film a play as is and it would become “a film.” Unfortunately, the conventions of film and theater are different enough that it just can’t work that way. While I don’t think Hitchcock can claim ignorance of his craft as to why he approach Juno in this way, it certainly had the same outcome.

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