crime, drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, silent movie

April 2nd, 2017 Movie – The Lodger (1927)

the lodger 1926

When I first read the general plot outline for today’s movie, I had to stop and think for a minute because this honestly sounded like a movie I had already reviewed. However, After going through my list, I found that, while similar, this is a different movie than the one I had earlier reviewed, Man In The Attic. I shouldn’t be too surprised though as there have been countless movies and books that are inspired by or parody the Jack the Ripper murders. So lets see how Hitchcock does with his own version of a serial killer as I watch today’s movie, The Lodger (1927).

The plot: A young blonde woman screams and as a crowd gathers around to where the screams where heard, they find the woman’s body and a note, marking her as the latest victim of the serial killer known as The Avenger. A reporter at the scene calls in his report and the presses quickly rush to print the story. That night, a young woman named Daisy Bunting is working a fashion show when she and the other showgirls here the news. All of the blonde showgirls get nervous and hide their hair underneath wigs or hats while Daisy laughs at them. Daisy heads home, where she finds her parents and her boyfriend Joe, who is a police officer, reading about the story. Later that night, a well dressed young man knocks on the door and when Mrs. Bunting answers it, he asks about the room she has for rent. She leads him up to the attic, where the room is, and when he sees it is filled with pictures of young blonde women. The man seems a bit disturbed but sits down and, after hearing how much the rent is, pays a month in advance and asks for some bread and milk. Mrs. Bunting heads down to the kitchen and the man places his small satchel in a cabinet and locks it. When Mrs. Bunting returns with his food, she sees the man turning all the pictures so they are facing the wall and he asks if she can have them taken out. Daisy comes upstairs to help remove the paintings and is intrigued by the lodger and as she is putting the paintings away with her mom and Joe, they hear the lodger pacing upstairs. The next day, Daisy brings the lodger some breakfast and an attraction starts to form between the two. After a few days, the lodger starts to become more sociable and is playing chess with Daisy. Joe shows up at the house and tells Daisy’s parents that he has been put on the Avenger case and wants to tell Daisy so Mrs. Bunting goes to get her. When Daisy enters the room, Joe tells her father that after he puts handcuffs on the Avenger, he will put a ring on Daisy’s finger, though Daisy does not seem happy about it. When Daisy walks away from Joe and heads back upstairs, Joe starts to get jealous of the lodger but Mrs. Bunting says not to worry. Late Tuesday night, the lodger sneaks out of the house but Mrs. Bunting hears him leave and, getting suspicious, goes to search his room and finds the locked cabinet that she can’t get into. The next morning, when the news reports another killing had occurred just round the corner, Mrs. Bunting believes that their lodger might be the killer. Joe shows up at the house, depressed that they were not able to catch the Avenger when they hear Daisy scream. Joe races upstairs and finds Daisy in the lodger’s arms and when he confronts the lodger, Daisy explains that she was scared by a mouse. Joe gets angry and warns the lodger to stay away from Daisy but Daisy gets angry with him and storms off. As they leave, the lodger tells Mrs. Bunting that if he is disturbed like that again, he will leave. Mrs. Bunting shares her suspicions with her husband and they decide to not let Daisy be alone with him anymore. The next day, the lodger attends Daisy’s show and after seeing Daisy modeling her dress, speaks to the store manager. Meanwhile, at the police station, Joe realizes that the Avenger seems to be moving in a specific direction and figures out where they should try and catch the killer. When Daisy returns home, her parents show her a package that came for her and Daisy is surprised to find the dress she modeled inside. When she tells them that the lodger had seen her wearing it but she didn’t think he would have bought it for her, her father grabs the dress and takes it up to the lodger’s room and tells him that he can’t have his daughter receiving gifts from strangers. That night, Daisy is taking a bath and the lodger speaks with her through the door and asks if she is upset about the dress. She tells him she isn’t and the two end up going out that night, much to the worry of Mrs. Bunting. As Daisy and the lodger sit on a bench after enjoying their date, Joe finds and confronts them and Daisy breaks up with Joe and asks that the lodger take her back home. As a heart-broken Joe sits on the bench, he notices the lodgers footprints and realizes they are similar to those of the Avenger. Back at the Bunting’s house, Daisy and the lodger are sitting together and start to kiss but the lodger pushes Daisy away and stands up only for Daisy to keep talking with him and the two end up kissing. Meanwhile, Joe shows up at the house with a warrant and two police officers and after finding Daisy and the lodger together, tells him he is there to search his room. Searching the room, Joe unlocks the cabinet and starts searching the lodger’s satchel. Inside, they find a gun, newspaper clippings of the murders and a map plotting their locations, and a picture, which Joe recognizes as belonging to the first victim. Daisy protests his innocence but Joe has the officers handcuff him and lead him out of the room. As they make their way downstairs, Joe tells the Buntings what happened and Mrs. Bunting faints and as the officers’ attention is turned towards her, the lodger manages to run out of the house. Daisy goes looking for him and finds him shivering on bench. When she asks him about the picture, he tells her that the girl was his sister and they were dancing at a her debutante ball the night she was killed. He had promised their dying mother that he would find the killer and bring him to justice. In an attempt to warm him up, Daisy takes the lodger to a nearby pub and orders some brandy for him, helping him to drink it as they are trying to keep the handcuffs hidden. After arousing the suspicions of some of the patrons, they leave but soon after, Joe and another officer come in and ask to use the phone so they can call in. When the patrons hear Joe’s description, they end up assembling as a lynch mob to go after the lodger. Joe calls the station and finds out that the real Avenger was apprehended red-handed and, realizing the lodger was innocent, goes with his partner to try and save the lodger and Daisy from the mob. The mob catches up to the lodger and start to beat him while Daisy tries to defend him. Joe and his partner arrive and try to rescue him but they are shoved aside by the mob until the newspapers, showing the Avenger has been captured are handed out, and the mob stops their attack. The next day, the lodger is resting in a hospital bed and Daisy is sitting there next to him as the doctor says he should make a full recovery. Some time later, the lodger and Daisy are shown to be a couple and they greet Daisy’s parents as the come to visit them, but when the Buntings are looking at a painting over the fireplace, Daisy and the lodger sneak off to share a kiss.

The Lodger (1927) met with high praise from recent critics, holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seemed to like this early showing of Hitchcock’s story telling ability and saw it as an indication of what he would become. This was Hitchcock’s third feature film and is significant for not only introducing several themes that would appear in most of his films down the road, such as an innocent man on the run and a fetishistic sexuality. Originally, the movie was supposed to have a more ambiguous ending, leaving you wondering whether or not the lodger was actually the killer, the studio demanded it be changed to a happier ending when Ivor Novello was cast, as they did not want him to be portray as the villain. Before the movie was released, Hitchcock married his assistant Alma Reville, who he had worked with before on other movies, and the two would stay married until the day he died.

This was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Ivor Novello (the lodger), June Tripp (Daisy), and Malcolm Keen (Joe) doing a great job with their roles. The story was really good and, knowing that this was one of Hitchcock’s earliest movies, I can see how this movie would be a basis for his later works. The movie didn’t have any special effects and there honestly wasn’t any real horror in it, as aside from the opening scene of the girl screaming, all of the murders happened off camera. Instead, Hitchcock focused on suspense and some misdirection to help set a great tone for this movie. Definitely a movie worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Standard
Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

March 30th, 2017 Movie – The Lady Vanishes

the lady vanishes

Starting to get back on track, we return to what is becoming my favorite collection from Mills Creek. Today we get another early movie from Hitchcock, which means it should be good. So looking at this movie, it seems to be another mystery on a train movie. I feel like I should be watching this during a thunderstorm in order to get the appropriate atmosphere going for this movie but I guess the early, pre-dawn hours will have to do. So let’s see how good today’s movie, The Lady Vanishes, really is.

The plot: At an inn in the country of Bandrika, the manager announces that the trains are delayed due to an avalanche and the crowd rushes to try and reserve a room. As everyone tries to get a room, the manager leaves his post to attend to Iris Henderson, an English playgirl who is touring across Europe with two of her friends. When he returns, he goes about renting out the rest of the rooms, with two men (Charters and Caldicott) being forced to room in the maid’s quarters. Later, Charters and Caldicott head downstairs to get some food only to find that there is no food and they meet Miss Foley, a governess who has been living in the country for 6 years but is returning to England since her charges have grown up. Miss Froy heads to her room, where she listens to a street musician playing outside her window. When a loud ruckus is heard coming from the room upstairs, both Iris and Miss Froy are bothered by it and Iris calls the manager to complain. The manager heads up to the room, where a musician named Gilbert is performing and having some people dance but Gilbert refuses to stop so the manager ends up kicking Gilbert out of his room. Gilbert heads down to Iris’ room and begins making himself comfortable, saying it is payment for her kicking him out of his room and Iris calls the manager and has him give Gilbert his room back. Meanwhile, Miss Froy goes back to listening to the folk singer and tosses a coin to him and goes to sleep, just as the singer is killed. The next day, Iris is saying goodbye to her friends when Miss Froy approaches asking if she has seen her bag. When Miss Froy walks away, Iris notices she dropped her glasses and goes to hand them back to her when someone pushes a flower pot off a window sill, intending to hit Miss Froy but it hits Iris instead. Miss Froy helps Iris onto the train and after getting settled in their compartment, they go to get some tea, passing by a lawyer named Todhunter and his mistress. After arriving at the dining car, the two introduce themselves and when their tea arrives, ask Charters and Caldicott for the sugar. Returning to the compartment, Iris goes to sleep for a while and when she wakes up, finds Miss Foley is gone and the other passengers in the compartment say that there was nobody there. Iris goes looking for Miss Froy and runs into Gilbert, who decides to help her. As they look about the train, they run into Dr. Egon Hartz, a noted brain surgeon, and he believes that Iris is suffering from a concussion related hallucination. When Iris and Gilbert asks Todhunter, Caldicott, and Charters if they remember seeing Miss Froy, they all reply no, with Todhunter not wanting to be involved in a scandal while with his mistress and Caldicott and Charters not wanting to delay the train for fear of missing a cricket match. When a woman wearing the same clothing as Miss Fory is sitting in her compartment, Iris starts to believe everyone is right about her imagining Miss Froy but as she is at the dining car with Gilbert, she remembers the special tea Miss Froy gave the server to fix for them earlier and sees where Miss Froy wrote her name on the window and demands they search the train, pulling on the emergency brake to stop the train before she passes out. When she comes too, Gilbert speaks with her and says that he believes her as he saw the box of tea she mentioned as the wait staff was throwing it away. They continue searching and end up in the baggage compartment, where they learn that the man riding in Iris’ compartment is a magician named Signor Doppo. When they find Miss Froy’s glasses, they are attacked by Signor but manage to knock him out and place him in a trunk only to find that it was part of his props and he managed to escape. Unsure as to who they can trust, they go to see Dr. Hartz but Gilbert suspects that the bandaged patient is actually Miss Froy. They start to remove the bandages but are stopped by Hartz, who asks to speak with them in the dining car. As they leave, Hartz tells one of his co-conspirators, who is disguised as a nun, to give some drugs to the server so he can spike their drinks. After having some drinks with Hartz, he leads them back to his compartment and reveals that the patient is Miss Froy and she will be taken off the train at the next stop and taken to a hospital, where she will die while undergoing surgery. Iris passes out, with Gilbert soon following, and Hartz leaves the compartment but Gilbert reveals that he faked falling asleep. After waking up Iris, Gilbert makes his way along the outside of the train to get into the other compartment, where the fake nun reveals that the patient is Miss Froy and that she chose not to drug them as she was standing up for her fellow countrywoman. As Gilbert frees Miss Froy, the imposter walks in and they quickly subdue her and then wrap her face in order to fool Hartz. Gilbert and Miss Froy head back to Hartz’s compartment and they quickly hide Miss Froy while Gilbert and Iris go back to faking being asleep. When the train stops, the “patient” is unloaded but Hartz discovers that it is the fake Miss Froy, then has the fake nun get back on the train, while he goes and speaks with some police, who uncouple some of the cars and divert the train to a branch line. Gilbert realizes what happened and goes to tell the others what is going on. The others don’t believe her but when they find the fake nun tied up, and the train stopping in the middle of a forest, they start to believe them. When a soldier boards the train and says that he is there to take them to the border, the fake nun whispers to Gilbert and he knocks the soldier out and takes his gun. When Hartz orders them to surrender, Gilbert fires back at them and Charters ends up getting shot in the hand. Miss Froy tells Gilbert and Iris that she is a spy and has Gilbert memorize a tune, which she says is a code, then escapes out the other side of the train. As Gilbert and Caldicott go to commandeer the locomotive and get the train moving again, Todhunter attempts to surrender but is shot and killed. Gilbert and Caldicott get the train moving and Hartz and the soldiers follow after it, hoping to stop it before they switch the lines. The soldier Gilbert knocked out holds Iris, Charters, and Todhunter’s mistress hostage in order to prevent them from switching the tracks, but the fake nun is able to sneak off the train and make the switch, then Gilbert and Caldicott help her back onto the train as they make it across the border. The group eventually make it back to London but Charters and Caldicott are heart-broken to learn that the cricket match is cancelled. Meanwhile, Iris is searching the station for her fiance, Charles, as Gilbert is saying goodbye but when she sees Charles, Iris decides to jump into Gilbert’s cab to avoid him and Gilbert proceeds to kiss her. Heading to the Foreign Office, Gilbert suddenly forgets the tune that Miss Froy taught him and as he tries to remember it, they hear it being played on a piano and enter the office to see Miss Froy playing the piano and the three have a joyful reunion.

The Lady Vanishes met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “One of Alfred Hitchcock’s last British films, this glamorous thriller provides an early glimpse of the director at his most stylishly entertaining.” The supporting characters of Charters and Caldicott were so popular in the movie, that they wound up appearing in several other movies, with the same actors playing them. This would wind up being Hitchcock’s last British movie until the 1970’s, as he would move to Hollywood shortly after this movie was released.

This was an absolutely fantastic movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Margaret Lockwood (Iris), Michael Redgrave (Gilbert), and Dame May Whitty (Miss Foley) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, who made for some funny comedic interludes with their portrayals of Caldicott and Charters respectively. The story was good, with a great sense of mystery and intrigue, along with some good comedy interjected every now and then. I liked how Hitchcock showed off some of the passengers self serving interests for saying they didn’t remember Miss Foley. However, there was one plot hole that never really got resolved; that being what happened with the soldier holding Iris and the others hostage as they headed for the border, because you never see what happens there. There weren’t any special effects in this movie as it relied solely on the mood and dialogue to carry the movie, which was honestly all this movie needed. Again, this is a fantastic movie and definitely one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Standard
comedy, drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review

March 15th, 2017 Movie – Juno And The Paycock

juno and the paycock

Well, it was a brief return to the present but we are back to some classic Hitchcock now. Now, I find myself with a little bit of a problem with this movie being in this box set because even though it is a Hitchcock movie, it is not a horror movie. I still wish that Mills Creek had managed to pit more horror movies into the Legends Of Horror box set but I guess they could only do so much with what was available. Well, let’s see what is in store for me with today’s movie, Juno And The Paycock.

The plot: During the Irish Civil War, an Orator is speaking out to a crowd in the slums of Dublin and talking about trying to make peace with each other comes to an abrupt end when two men in an apartment window open fire on the crowd with a machine gun. As the people run for cover, Captain Boyle and his friend Joxer end up falling into the local pub along with a crowd of other people and tell Mrs.Madigan, the pub owner what happened. After having a drink, the two quickly make excuses and duck out of the pub to avoid paying, then head back to Boyle’s house in order to continue drinking. At Boyle’s house, his wife Juno hears them approaching and laments about the fact that Boyle won’t amount to much, as she is the one that has a job while Boyle simply lays around the house and drinks. Later that night, Boyle goes to the kitchen to get something to drink when he hears a knocking on the door to his tenement building. Boyle’s son Johnny, who lost an arm while working with the IRA, worries about who it is and Boyle has Joxer look out the window. Joxer says it is a man in a trench coat but he soon leaves, and Johnny relaxes and heads back to his room. Boyle and Joxer sit down and start eating but when they hear Juno coming back, they quickly hide the food and Boyle has Joxer hide out the window on the fire escape. Juno comes in and tells Boyle to change clothes and while he is gone, their daughter Mary arrives with a man named Charlie Bentham. When Boyle comes back into the room, Bentham explains that Boyle is set to inherit a reasonably large sum of money. Excited about the thought of having money, Boyle borrows against the unclaimed inheritance and proceed to buy some new furniture as well as a Victrola record player and decides to have a dinner party. During the party, as the group are all singing and having fun, they hear a wailing coming from the hallway and Juno goes to see what is going on. She sees the mother of a young man who had recently been killed heading out to attend the wake and funeral. Returning to the apartment, Juno tells the others about it and they continue enjoying the party, not noticing Johnny’s pained look, as he had informed the authorities about the man. Mary and Bentham go for a walk and when the funeral procession goes down the street, Boyle and the others head down to pay their respects, leaving Johnny alone in the apartment. Suddenly, the man in the trench coat appears and asks why Johnny wasn’t at the funeral then says he is summoned to an IRA meeting so they can discuss what he knows about the dead man but Johnny refuses to go, saying he lost his arm and damaged his hip for Ireland and says he has suffered enough. Some time later, Boyle learns that the inheritance isn’t coming, as Bentham misfiled the will, and tries to keep it from his family. However, Joxer goes around telling people what happened and the creditors start arriving to take the things back, such as Mrs. Madigan taking the Victrola to pay for his pub tab. Meanwhile, Juno had gone with Mary to the doctor and when she returns home, she tells Boyle that Bentham got Mary pregnant and then ran off. Boyle gets angry at how Mary dishonored the family’s name and disowns her, then tells Juno that she can leave with Mary if she takes her side. Boyle decides to go get a drink and Joxer goes with him and Mary sees them leave and heads inside the apartment. As she enters the building, she is approached by Jerry Devine, her former fiance, and he says he still loves her in spite of her dumping him and wants another chance with her but when he learns that she is pregnant, he takes back the offer and leaves. As the men start taking the furniture away, Juno and Mary leave to go try and talk to Boyle and while they are out, two men show up and take Johnny away, knowing that he had informed on their associate. When Juno and Mary return to an empty apartment and Juno worries about Johnny when Mrs. Madigan arrives and tells them that Johnny was killed. As Juno weeps for her lost son, Mary yells out about there not being a God but Juno shushes her, saying they will both need God in their time of grief and need right now, then spending a moment alone in the empty room, she cries out about what happened to Johnny before leaving with Mary, and walking from their life with Boyle and hoping to build a better life somewhere safer.

This was an interesting, and somewhat depressing movie to watch. The acting was ok but to be honest, nobody really impressed me too much. The setting for the story was good, as it helped give a bit of sense of why people were desperate for a safer place, but the story itself was just depressing. There weren’t any special effects or anything of that sort in this movie, as it relied more on setting and tone to carry the movie, but the whole tone was just depressing. I am glad I saw it for the fact that it is a Hitchcock movie, but I definitely would rather have watched a better movie to start the day.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Standard
adventure, crime, Hitchcock, movie, movie review

March 13th, 2017 Movie – Jamaica Inn (1939)

jamaica inn

It has been a while since I have watched a Hitchcock movie. That is definitely one of the best things about the Legends Of Horror box set, as I have been able to see a lot of his lesser known films. Today’s movie is one that has a somewhat dubious distinction as it is considered one of Hitchcock’s worst movies. Now considering my enjoyment of bad movies, this is one that I just had to watch. So let’s see exactly what I am getting into with today’s movie, Jamaica Inn.

The plot: In the early 19th century off the Cornish coast, gangs tended to cause ships to wreck so they could plunder the wreckage for profit. One night, a man rides out from the Jamaica Inn and covers up the coastal beacon light, causing a ship to crash into the rocks. As the crew abandon ship, the rest of the gang of thieves kill the surviving crew members, then proceed to loot the ship. Some time later, a young woman named Mary Yellan is riding in a coach and asks to be let out at Jamaica Inn but the coach driver refuses to stop as the Jamaica Inn is the headquarters of the gang of wreckers. The coach driver stops at the house of Sir Humphrey Pengallan, the local squire and Justice of the Peace, and lets Mary off there. Mary goes up to the house, where Pengallan is hosting a dinner party, and though he tries to dissuade her from going to the inn, he relents when he learns that she is the niece of the innkeeper’s wife and gives her a horse to ride while he accompanies her and carries her trunk. When Mary reaches the inn, she is met at the door by her uncle Joss, who tries to kiss her but stops when his wife Patience comes down stairs. As Mary and Patience talk, Patience is saddened to learn that her sister had died. Meanwhile, Joss goes to speak with his gang, who are getting curious as they don’t seem to make much money off of the loot that they steal from the ships. Thinking someone might be embezzling goods from their hauls, the gang proceeds to question each man’s loyalty and suspicions fall on Jim Trehearne, who has only been with the gang for 2 months. Patience suddenly enters the room and tells Joss that Pengallan had accompanied Mary to the inn and Joss goes to meet with him, revealing that Pengallan is the mastermind of the gang. When the gang moves to hang Trehearne, Joss sends Patience and Mary up to their rooms then goes to consult with Pengallan before giving the ok. As the gang proceeds to hang Trehearne, they begin fighting over some of his belongings and Mary uses the opportunity to cut the rope and rescue him. After helping him get away, Mary sneaks back to her room only to find Joss there, who thinks she was saying good night to Patience and says she can stay. When the rest of the gang discovers Trehearne is missing, Joss finds that the rope was cut and realizes that Mary saved him. Patience hears this and has Mary hide as Joss goes upstairs to look for her. When the gang starts to search outside, Mary is grabbed by Trehearne, who helps her hide and then the two make their escape from the inn. They manage to hide out in a cave for the night but in the morning, Mary tries to run on her own but Trehearne stops her and the two end up losing their boat. The gang finds them and starts to send men after them but Trehearne convinces Mary to swim for it and the two manage to escape. Mary and Trehearne make their way to Pengallan’s place, where Trehearne reveals to Pengallan that he is an under cover officer investigating the wrecks. Joss and Pengallan head to the Jamaica Inn to investigate and take Joss captive. They move to arrest Patience as well but Mary says that she is innocent of the wrecks but refuses to leave Joss so Trehearne locks them into a room. While he is away, Joss and Pengallan talk and Pengallan tells Joss that they have to do another job that night as he needs the money to go on a holiday, not revealing that the authorities are closing in on them. When the rest of the gang shows up, they manage to take Trehearne prisoner and Pengallan has Joss pretend to capture him. Telling the gang that they have to do a job that night and they will deal with the prisoners when they return, Joss has Trehearne and Pengallan tied up but secretly makes sure that Pengallan’s hands are freed. Joss then leads the gang to go wreck the ship, taking Mary with them and leaving Patience to guard the prisoners. After the gang leaves, Pengallan frees himself, revealing himself to be the mastermind for the gang and he tells Patience to shoot Trehearne if he moves. Trehearne appeals to Patience to free him, agreeing to let Joss and her get away if she does. Patience agrees and Trehearne sets off down the road, commandeering a passing coach so he can go get some back-up. Back at the cliffs, Joss and the gang prepare to cause another wreck but Mary gets free from her restraints and heads up the cliff to attempt to relight the beacon. She manages to do so and the ship is spared but Mary is recaptured. As the gang decides what to do with her, Joss saves her and places her in the cart and starts to drive off but one of the gang members shoots him in the back. Mary makes her way to the inn, where Patience is upset to see what happened to Joss. She starts to tell Mary about Pengallan but he shoots her from hiding and as both Patience and Joss die, he approaches Mary and quickly binds and gags Mary as he plans on taking her with him. As the gang returns to the inn, they see Pengallan leaving with Mary and go looking for Joss only to find his and Patience’s bodies. As they start to leave, Trehearne arrives with some soldiers and the gang is quickly arrested but Trehearne learns that Pengallan has left with Mary. Pengallan takes Mary onto a ship that is heading for France and unties her gag but before the ship leaves, Trehearne and the soldiers arrive. Trehearne holds a gun to Mary’s head and tries to force his escape but Trehearne rescues her and Pengallan climbs up one of the masts to escape the soldiers, while Mary pleads with the soldiers not to hurt him as he has gone mad. As Pengallan looks down at the crowd below, he mocks them for wanting a spectacle and says he will give them one, then shouts out, “Make way for Pengallan!”, before jumping from the mast onto the deck below. Trehearne shields Mary from seeing the body then escorts her off the ship.

Jamaica Inn met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics liked some of the performers but felt the overall tone was flat and lacked any of the suspense that was in the original novel. Hitchcock himself was disgusted with the movie and supposedly stated that it was “a completely absurd idea.” Despite all the negative comments surrounding the movie, it was still a financial success, earning $3.7 million at the US box office.

This wasn’t as good as some of Hitchcock’s later works, but I didn’t think this was that bad of a movie. The acting was pretty good, with Charles Laughton (Pengallan), Leslie Banks (Joss), and Maureen O’Hara (Mary) all doing good jobs in their roles. The story was interesting, but while there wasn’t a mass amount of tension, there was enough to help carry the movie, though it was somewhat subdued. The camera work and editing was pretty good, with the pacing of the movie flowing pretty smoothly. It might not be what you are looking for out of a Hitchcock movie, but I think it is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Standard
movie, movie review

February 20th, 2017 Movie – The Farmer’s Wife

the-farmers-wife

I am going to just throw this out there. First of all, I have stated many times that I really enjoy the Legends Of Horror box set, and this is true. Well, I have one slight problem with this box set. See, I understand that while actors or directors might be icons in the horror genre, that doesn’t mean they didn’t do other things. However, I don’t think a romantic comedy, even if it is directed by Hitchcock, belongs in this set. That being said, let’s see what I am in for with today’s movie, The Farmer’s Wife.

The plot: After the death of his wife and the marriage of his daughter, Farmer Samuel Sweetland finds himself living alone with only his two servants (Ash and Minta) to help out. Before she died, his wife made him promise to remarry so, with the help of Minta, he comes up with a list of possible women, three of whom were at his daughter’s wedding. Samuel first goes to see Widow Louisa Windeatt but when he proposes to her, she rejects him, saying she is too independent for his liking. He gets angry at her rejection and storms off, saying he will never make the trek up her hill again. Samuel is invited to an event at Thirza Tapper’s home, a somewhat nervous mannered woman, and he arrives early with Ash, who is helping out by announcing guests at the party. Before the other guests arrive, Samuel attempts to court Tirza but she also spurns his proposal, saying she has no need for a man, and Samuel gets upset and wanders around outside the house as the other guests all come in. As he is pouting, he notices the postmistress, Mary Hearn, arrive at the house and attempts to speak with her before she enters the main room but failing that, goes inside and proceeds to talk with her. As the party commences and the guests start listening to a glee club singing in the garden, Samuel has a chance to speak to Mary alone and proposes to her. She rejects him and starts laughing, which makes him angry and he yells that she is “full blown and a bit over” and storms off. Returning home, Samuel is feeling a bit dejected over the constant rejections and tells Minta that he is not going to continue with the list. As he leaves the room, Ash returns to the house and tells Minta he feels embarrassed at how Samuel is just throwing himself at these women. Samuel over hears this and tells Ash to saddle his horse, preparing to head out and ask the last woman on his list, the local barmaid Mercy Bassett. As Minta helps him get ready and sees him off, she feels a little upset as she happens to be in love with Samuel. When he gets there, he sees that a fox hunt is about to take place, and all of the women that spurned him happened to be there. Doing his best to avoid them, Samuel makes his way into the bar and manages to speak with Mercy, but she also rejects his proposal. Meanwhile, Mary and Tirza are talking at the post office and after realizing that Samuel had proposed to both of them, Mary has a change of heart and decides to accept Samuel’s proposal and has Tirza come with her as she tells him. Meanwhile, Samuel returns home and feels depressed over the constant rejections. As he is pondering all of his failures with women, he starts to really notice Minta as a women. As Minta starts to suggest another woman he might try, he tells her he already has a woman in mind. Samuel then tells proposes to her, telling her he has gotten used to rejection and will not be upset if she rejects him. Minta accepts his proposal and the two embrace, then Samuel says they should celebrate and asks Minta to put on the party dress that Tibby, his late wife, gave her. As she starts to go, she tells Ash the news and he congratulates her, saying Samuel finally came out on top. As Samuel waits for her to come back down, Mary and Tirza arrive, and Mary tells Samuel she changed her mind and accepts his proposal. Samuel escorts the two women, as well as another friend who had shown up, to a table and pours them a drinks as he says he is planning on announcing his engagement. Mary believes it is her but when Minta comes down the stairs and Samuel goes to greet her, he announces her as his future bride. Tirza and the friend congratulate Samuel and Minta while Mary begins going into hysterics and Ash attempts to calm her down.

This was a bit longer than necessary, but a pretty entertaining movie all around. The acting was good, with Jameson Thomas (Samuel) did a good job in showcasing the various emotions he went through, while Gordon Harker (Ash) made for some great comedy relief. The story was pretty good but like I said, the movie felt like it was a lot longer than it needed to be. There were plenty of times where some non essential scenes could have been cut out and nothing important would have been affected. One big problem was mostly with the quality of the copy, as there were a lot of popping sounds in the soundtrack and at one point, the screen went black for no reason, but considering the movie is almost 90 years old, it has held up pretty well. A good Hitchcock movie but definitely doesn’t belong in this box set.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Standard
movie, movie review

February 10th, 2017 Movie – Easy Virtue (1928)

easy-virtue-1928

Sometimes, there can be a benefit to having my alarm set as early as I do. See, I have my alarm set for 5am, which is when I used to get up for work but now use the time to watch a movie before going to work. Well my alarm went off yesterday morning but instead of getting up, I apparently laid back down and went back to sleep. So I guess I needed the sleep but I really could have done without the messed up dream I had. I did wake up early enough where I was not late for work but it made watching and reviewing today’s movie a little hard to do, which is why I am finishing it this morning. So that brings us to today/yesterday’s movie, an old Hitchcock silent film called Easy Virtue (1928).

The plot: Larita Filton is testifying at her divorce hearing and as her husband’s attorney is questioning her, she flashes back to the events that led her here. Some time earlier, Larita is having her portrait painted by Claude Robson, while her husband Aubrey watches and continually drinks wine. Claude becomes smitten with Larita and eventually writes her a note, asking that she leave Aubrey and marry him. At her next sitting, Larita refuses and Claude tries to persuade him but she continuously pushes him away. Aubrey shows up and catches Larita in Claude’s arms, and begins to fight with Claude. Claude grabs a gun to defend himself as Aubrey beats him with his cane, and Claude ends up shooting Aubrey. A servant hears the commotion and seeing what has happened, goes to get the police. Claude decides to commit suicide and as the police question Larita about what happened, Aubrey comes too and shows them the note from Claude and later files for divorce. Back in the present, the jury deliberates and rules in favor of Aubrey, as Claude had left all of his money to Larita. After the case is decided, Larita tries hiding her face to avoid being photographed, and decides to leave London and head to the French Riviera, choosing to go by Larita Grey to avoid unwanted attention. While living in the Riviera, she is watching a tennis match when one of the balls hits her in the eye. The person who hit the ball, John Whittaker apologizes and takes her to get some medical attention. As she is being tended to, John ends up falling in love with Larita and though reluctant at first, she finds his devotion helps ease the memories of her past. Some time later, John asks Larita to marry him and even though she asks if he wants to get to know her more, he says all he needs to know is that he loves her and she finally agrees to the marriage. After the wedding, they head back to London so that Larita can meet John’s family. Arriving at John’s family home, they are greeted by his father, Colonel Whittaker, and his sister Marion, who both seem to like her. However, when John’s mother meets Larita, she immediately dislikes her and after Larita heads up to their room, she tells John that she invited Sarah to eat with them, as she always hoped John would marry her. As they stay in London, Mrs. Whittaker is constantly mean to Larita, saying she knows her from somewhere but can’t remember where, and when John asks her to be nice to Larita, she agrees but only does so in public. After Mrs. Whittaker’s constant abuse, Larita asks John if they can go back to the Riviera and when John asks why she can’t be happy in England, Larita tells him that his mother hates her and is teaching John to hate her as well. Eventually, Marion sees a magazine with Larita’s picture and recognizes her as Larita Filton, and the issue is brought to the rest of the family’s attention. As John leaves the room, Mrs. Whittaker and the other women leave, while Colonel Whittaker tries to console Larita, saying that John loves her but she tells him he only loves his family. That night, the Whittakers are hosting a dinner party and Sarah, who overheard what had happened, goes to console Larita but Mrs. Whittaker stops her. As the guests arrive, Mrs. Whittaker tells them that Larita is upstairs with a headache whenever they ask about her. As the party commences, Larita makes a grand entrance, much to the displeasure of Mrs. Whittaker. As everyone’s attention is on her, she sees an old friend and asks if he was the one that told them about her but he denies it, saying that her secret was too big to remain a secret for long. Later, she admits to her friend that she made a mistake in marrying John and plans on getting a divorce from him. As she leaves the party, she tells Sarah that she should have been the one to marry John. Some time later, Sarah watches from the court room balcony as the divorce proceeding occur and can’t help but cry. A reporter recognizes her and as she is leaving, photographers approach her and she faces them and says, “Shoot! There’s nothing left to kill.”

This was not quite what I expected from a Hitchcock movie and to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with it. The acting was good, though I will say that Robin Irvine (John) had a bit of a Joker smile going, which was a little creepy. The story was actually pretty good, but I fell like this would have been better as a talkie, since the dialogue could have helped get all of the different emotions across better. There wasn’t much as far as special effects and I can’t tell if it is just the copy I have or the fact that it is such an old movie but the film quality was pretty bad, with lines and shading effects occurring constantly.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Standard
movie, movie review

January 5th, 2017 Movie – Blackmail (1929)

blackmail-1929

Now this is what I expected to find when I bought that Legends Of Horror box set. What I did not expect was the gem I got with today’s movie. See, in the late 1920’s movies were just starting to switch from silent pictures to “talkies”. Now Alfred Hitchcock had directed a few silent movies before this and today’s movie had started out as another one but British International Pictures decided to make it a “talkie” during production, making it the first successful European dramatic talkie. So let’s see what this bit of history has in store for us as I watch Blackmail (1929).

The plot: A group of detectives from Scotland Yard are riding in a mobile unit truck when they are given an address to head to. Arriving there, two of the detectives head up to one of the rooms and find a man lying in bed reading a newspaper. The man, seeing the detectives in the reflection of a mirror, tries reaching for the gun he has on the nightstand but the detectives rush in and grab it from him and take him down to the truck. Heading back to Scotland Yard, the man is placed in a line up, where a woman identifies him, and he is subsequently booked and placed in a cell. Afterwards, one of the detectives, Frank Webber, gets cleaned up and heads to the lobby to meets his girlfriend, Alice White, who is upset with Frank for being late. The two go to a fancy tea house and manage to find a table but as they are waiting to be served, they begin arguing, with Alice feeling that Frank cares more about his job than he does about her. During the argument, while Frank is distracted, Alice notices a man approaching the table and she motions with her eyes to wait. When the two continue arguing about, this time about going to the movies, and Frank gets fed up and leaves some money on the table before walking off. Frank leaves the tea house but soon decides to go back for Alice only to see her leaving with the other man. The man, an artist named Mr. Crewe, says he will escort Alice home but along the way, he convinces her to come up to his flat, which is a block from her place. Inside, Crewe goes to start a fire while Alice looks at some of his paintings. She laughs at a painting of a clown face and then paints a cartoon face on a blank canvas. Crewe guides her arms and paints a feminine body under the face and then they sign both their names to the painting. Crew asks Alice to put on a dancer’s uniform so he can paint her, then plays the piano and sings while she changes. Afterwards, Crewe has Alice pose for him but uses the opportunity to kiss her. Alice pushes him away and then goes to change but Crewe steals her dress and attempts to rape her. Alice struggles with him and eventually manages to grab a bread knife, which she uses to kill Crewe. In a daze after what happened, Alice gets dressed, punching a hole in the painting of the clown after she grabs her dress, then painting over her name on the picture before she leaves and wanders the streets. When Crewe’s body is discovered, Frank gets assigned to the case and as he is looking around the flat, he sees one of Alice’s gloves and, after seeing the body and recognizing it, quickly pockets it. Meanwhile, Alice returns to her father’s shop but goes about the day in a daze. When Frank gets there, he pulls Alice inside the shop’s telephone booth and asks her about what happened that night. As they are in the phone booth, a man named Tracy enters the shop and, when he is alone with Alice and Frank, admits to seeing Alice going up to Crewe’s flat and he has Alice’s other glove which she dropped as she was leaving the flat. Tracy plans to blackmail Alice and Frank and Frank agrees to it at first but as he places a call to Scotland Yard, he learns that Tracy is wanted for questioning due to his having a record and being spotted near Crewe’s flat. Frank returns to the room that Alice and Tracy are in and has Alice lock the door, then tells Tracy that the police are on their way and that Tracy will be the one arrested for murder. When Tracy says he will tell everyone that Alice was there, Frank says that no one will take Tracy’s word over Franks due to his criminal record. Tracy gets nervous and when the police arrive, he jumps out the window and tries to escape. Frank and the other officers give chase and eventually corner him at the British Museum. Tracy climbs up onto the roof to escape the police but he ends up breaking through the skylight and falling to his death, with the police believing him to be the murder. Meanwhile, Alice is feeling more and more distraught and, unaware of what had happened with Tracy, goes to the police with the intent of turning herself in. She is brought in to see the Chief Inspector but before she can say anything, he takes a call and asks Frank, who had just walked in, to take care of her. As Frank is escorting her out of the office, Alice admits to Frank that she killed Crewe in self defense to keep him from raping her but Frank tells her not to worry about it. As the two leave the police station, they pass by an officer carrying the damaged clown painting and the painting with Alice’s name painted over.

Blackmail (1929) met with high praise from the critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the majority of the critics enjoyed the camera work and the story. When he was told to turn portions of the movie into a sound picture, Alfred Hitchcock chose to film the entire movie in sound, except for the first 6 minutes of film as well as a few small scenes, but also filmed the movie as a silent film for theaters that were not equipped for sound. While both versions were a hit, the silent film actually performed better due to the lack of theaters equipped for sound. While the talkie is the more widely available version, many film historians consider the silent version the better movie.

This is one of the earliest Hitchcock movies I think I have ever seen and while I personally don’t think it is as good as some of his later movies, I can definitely see where some of his directing styles started to evolve. The acting was ok, though there were times it seemed like the actors weren’t comfortable with the talking roles. The story was really good, with several sub-plots that made for some interesting drama. While there weren’t really any special effects, the story moved along pretty well with the drama carrying the weight of the plot. A good movie and worth watching, if for no other reason the historical aspects of it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Standard