The Hitchcock Haul: The Skin Game (1931)

DownloadedFileLike a lot of these older Hitchcock films, I had never heard of The Skin Game. Based on a play by Nobel Prize winner John Glasworthy, the film highlights tensions between old money and the nouveau riche to demonstrate class warfare and talk about the urbanization of rural areas, something that was a hotbed topic since the Industrial Revolution.

The established Hillcrists and the up-and-coming Hornblowers dive into a family feud over one of the last open stretches of wilderness between their two estates in the English countryside. The Hillcrists find the Hornblowers crass and reprehensible, as they’ve been building ugly factories and residences on surrounding land, even throwing tenants out of their homes that were promised residency when the Hillcrests sold some land to Mr. Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn). This began the breach of faith, but when Mr. Hornblower purchased the last bit of unsullied land in what Mr. Hillcrist (C.V. France) calls a ‘skin game,’ the Hillcrists decided to play dirty.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading