Saturday, 28 March 2015

Murder! | #ProjectHitch

This week’s Project Hitch film, Murder! (1930) was a step up from the disappointing experience last week with Juno and the Paycock

Murder! is a step back into Hitchcock’s realm of suspense with a good old fashion who done it. The movie starts off with the death of a young women, once part of an acting troupe. Her body is found next to a confused co-star with blood on her dress, unable to remember what has transpired. As the film continues we are introduced to the cast of characters, most of which are potential suspects.
The characters themselves range from likeable to irritating, confusing to downright unhelpful (as far as the police and their less than adequate detective work goes.)

Murder! is the type of movie, you spend the whole time coming up with theories for, constantly second guessing the characters and their motives. I think in most cases the audience is on to the actual killer long before our other characters manage to figure it out but the intrigue is still fun while it lasts.

While Murder! isn’t the best of its kind, it’s still incredibly entertaining to watch and one I wouldn’t be opposed to watching again at some point.

Be sure to join me next time to find out how I enjoyed The Skin Game.


Juno and the Paycock | #ProjectHitch

Juno and the Paycock (1930) is the second Hitchcock feature film to have sound and after the triumph that was Blackmail, I have to admit that Juno was a little bit of a disappointment. 

Juno and the Paycock is based on the Sean O'Casey play of the same name and follows the story of a lower class family during the Irish Revolution, living under the pretence that they are to receive a large inheritance.

Juno was by no means the first Hitch film to be adapted from a play but so far it’s the only one that didn’t quite make the transition for me. The film didn’t feel like it was utilising its medium. It felt quite static to me and I found it difficult to pay attention which was problematic considering that the sound quality of the version I watched wasn’t the best, coupled with the extremely thick Irish accents, I definitely missed lines of dialogue here and there. Overall the film felt like a chore to watch, which definitely isn’t how I want my movie going experiences to feel.

Juno and the Paycock is maybe a movie I need to give another chance at some point. The overall story wasn’t bad and the characters definitely created interest but my experience, unfortunately, was a bit of a failure.

Definitely looking forward to a fresh start with the next film on my list, Murder!


Saturday, 7 March 2015

Blackmail | #ProjectHitch

This week on Project Hitch was super exciting. Blackmail (1929) is the first of Hitchcock’s (and Britain’s in general) “talkie” films and I could hardly wait to see how it faired.

Blackmail was originally intended to be a silent film but the new found popularity of the “talkie” had the studio heads asking Hitch to add a few novelty “talkie” scenes. Hitch, never one to do things in halves, ended up filming the majority of the film with sound apart from a couple of minutes near the beginning and towards the end, the results were incredible. 

Blackmail has worked its way near the top of my favourite Hitchcock films so far. The story follows a sweet but not altogether sensible girl, Alice. Alice is dating a Scotland Yard detective but in a moment of impulse decided to spend the evening with an artist who doesn’t exactly have Alice’s best interests at heart.

I have to admit that I was seriously impressed with Anny Ondra, the actress who portrayed Alice. Her fear, revulsion and catatonic shock after her terrible nights events were amazing to watch. I felt heartbroken for Alice and was glued to the screen, waiting to see what happened next and how the film’s title of Blackmail was going to come into it.

I was pretty much spellbound by this film. The characters were believable; the stakes were high as was the tension. There were a dozen different ways the story could have gone and Hitchcock waited until the last possible moment to reveal how our protagonist was going to fair.

Anny Ondra perfecting the role of, Alice White

Blackmail was a completely wonderful film and as for being such an early talking picture, I was beyond impressed.

If you’re new to Hitchcock’s earlier ventures I would recommend checking out this as well as The Lodger, as far as his offers from the 20s go. Both are just wonderful.

Join me next week for Juno and the Paycock


Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Manxman | #ProjectHitch

Hitchcock’s silent films ended in a similar fashion to how they began, with love triangles, betrayal and suspense. 

The 1929 film, The Manxman was not supposed to be the last of Hitch’s silent era films but the swiftly growing popularity of the ‘talkies’ made silent films almost dead overnight.

The Manxman tells the story of Pete, a kind and trusting fisherman and his naive love for the local barman’s daughter, Kate. Early on in our story Pete is denied permission to marry Kate due to his social and financial position, only making Pete more determined to be with her than ever. In order to make himself worthy, Pete leaves for Africa in an attempt to make his fortune but not before asking Kate to wait for him and ensuring his best friend, Philip will take care of her while he’s away. 

In inevitable movie fashion, Pete’s absence leads his best friend and his girlfriend into each other’s arms, quickly forgetting the promises they made, or at least disregarding them. The character of Kate, was to me, frivolous, thoughtless and irritating. Philip, while still not blameless in any sense, did seem to at least suffer guilt at his betrayal, which I suppose is better than nothing…

A little ways into the affair, the two are informed of Pete’s apparent death, news which Kate seems quite pleased with since she can now be with Philip alone.Not surprisingly, the news of Pete’s death ends up being false and he returns home, with his promised fortune, thrilled to see those closest to him again.

As the movie goes on, Pete is betrayed time and again, he marries Kate not knowing of her affair or that the daughter she bares is not his own. I found the character of Pete so sweet and charming that it was near impossible to sympathise with the characters who continually did him wrong, especially when Pete keeps his kind and level head even as he is finally being faced with the hard truths surrounding his life. 

Loving that triangle...

Overall, I did enjoy the movie but would have preferred more reason to feel for the other characters in the story. That being said, there were times when I felt sorry for their positions but it was difficult when they continued to lie to the person who trusted them most. 

I’m glad to end the silent film portion of Hitchcock’s career on such a high note but I am definitely looking forward to seeing his transition into ‘talkies’.

Join me next week, to hear how I get on with the 1929 film, Blackmail.