Ahh, I do love starting the day with a Hitchcock movie. Once more I find myself watching an early Hitchcock movie from the Legends Of Horror box set and am reminded of just how much I have been enjoying this collection. The only bad thing about all of this, if you can call it that, is that it has really made me want to buy several of his more well known movies. Well, maybe I can work on that at another time but for now, I’m going to focus on today’s movie, Rich And Strange.
The plot: After a rough day where nothing seems to go right for him, Fred Hill returns home to his wife Emily. As the two start to argue over finances, they receive a telegram from Fred’s uncle, who has decided to give them an advance of their inheritance so that they may, in Fred’s words, enjoy life a little more. Fred quits his job and the two decide to go on a cruise but as they are crossing the English Channel to Paris, Fred ends up getting sea sick. While in Paris, they decide to attend a show at the Folies Bergère but Emily wants to leave when somebody pinches her on the butt so the end up at a bar, where they proceed to get drunk and when they finally make it back to their hotel, they end up falling asleep on the floor with their heads on the beds. The next day, they board the ship to head to the Orient but Fred once again feels sea sick and heads down to their cabin, leaving Emily alone on the deck. While on the deck, she ends up meeting Commander Gordon and starts a friendship with him but as they spend more time together, they end up getting closer and Gordon kisses Emily on the deck before she heads back to her cabin. When Fred starts feeling better and is able to move about the ship, he goes for a walk on the deck and meets a German princess, who apologizes to him when she accidentally hits him in the eye with a rope ring from one of the deck games. As the voyage continues, Fred and Emily end up spending more time with their new partners and less time with each other. As the boat makes a stop in Columbo, they all head ashore, and Fred and Emily both tell their new lovers that they intend to dissolve their marriage and start new lives with the princess and Gordon respectively. When the boat arrives in Singapore, Emily leaves with Gordon and heads to his house. Along the way, Gordon tells Emily that the princess is really a con artist who is merely after Fred’s money and Emily, feeling bad about the way things became with her husband, leaves Gordon and heads off to warn Fred. Emily heads to Fred’s hotel and tries to warn him about the princess but Fred doesn’t believe her. As the two start to argue over everything that has happened between them during the trip, Fred leaves Emily crying in his room while he goes to locate the princess. As she is sitting there, a telegram from Gordon is delivered to her, stating that he understands her reasoning to stay with her husband. Fred returns, saying that the princess had run off onto a train for Rangoon and he finds a note stating that she was a simple street walker whose father owned a laundry in Berlin. Realizing that the fake princess took most of Fred’s money, they use what little they have left to pay the hotel bill and then book passage on a tramp steamer in order to return home. During the journey, the ship strikes something in the middle of the night and as everyone aboard begins to abandon ship, Fred and Emily find themselves trapped in their cabin as they see the water rushing up over the porthole. As they await their watery end, Fred and Emily apologize for how they have acted. In the morning, Fred and Emily discover that they are still alive and Emily opens the porthole so that they can climb up onto the deck and see where they are. They head into a nearby cabin to find some clothes, unaware that water has now started seeping into their cabin through the open porthole. When a Chinese junk appears and the crew begin looting the steamer, Fred and Emily manage to board the junk and the crew feeds them and tends to leave them alone. Fred and Emily eventually manages to make it back to London but as they get reacquainted to being home, they start arguing in the same fashion that they were before the telegram had arrived some months earlier.
Rich And Strange met with mostly positive results from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most people felt that while it wasn’t one of his better films, it did provide a mature exploration of wandering affections and romantic betrayal. The movie was not a commercial success and most of this is attributed to the lack of dialogue, as the dialogue only occurs for about a quarter of the movie, and that there were several hold overs from the silent film style, such as scene captions and exaggerated acting styles.
Not exactly what I would prefer in a Hitchcock movie but it wasn’t that bad. The acting was decent, with Henry Kendall (Fred) and Joan Barry (Emily) doing good jobs in their roles for the most part. The story was interesting, pointing out something that can happen to every married couple if they stop paying attention to each other and work on strengthening their relationship, but the the mix between periods of dialogue and non speaking scenes and events made it a little difficult to fully grasp what all was going on. There wasn’t really any special effects as the movie used dialogue and situations to help carry the plot. An interesting take on relationships as only Hitchcock could tell.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5