drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, silent movie, sports

May 22nd, 2017 Movie – The Ring (1927)

the ring 1927

Two old school Hitchcock movies in a row. This is a great start to the week. So this is another of his early silent movies that had never heard of before. So this is going to be a little interesting for me because while I enjoy watching sports, I don’t necessarily like watching sports movies. Obviously there are some exceptions to that but in general, sports movies just don’t really hold my interest. So let’s see how this one does as I watch today’s movie, The Ring (1927).

The plot: A man and his friend are walking along the grounds of a fair when they approach a tent where the barker is challenging members of the crowd to compete in a boxing match with the athletes. As the barker is promoting the talents of “One Round” Jack Sanders, the man becomes infatuated with the ticket girl, Mabel, and begins flirting with her. When Jack notices this, he challenges the man to be one of the fighters and the man agrees. Inside the tent, Jack easily defeats his first two opponents and then proceeds to fight the man, but the man is more of a challenge than Jack expected. When the fight last longer than one round, Mabel, who was watching the fight through a flap in the tent, informs the barker and he begins selling more tickets for people to watch it. The man eventually beats Jack and he leaves with his friend but as he starts flirting with Mabel again, she is upset because Jack and her were going to get married but Jack might have lost his job after he lost. The man’s friend hands her a card, revealing his name to be James Ware and that the man is the World Heavyweight Champion boxer Bob Corby, whom he manages. James and Bob approach Jack later that night as Mabel tends to his wounds and James offers Jack a job in becoming Bob’s sparring partner providing he win a trial fight. As they are talking, Bob continues flirting with Mabel and she leads him outside the tent, as some people were staring at them. Outside, they walk behind a trailer and Bob gives her a bracelet that he bought from the prize money as a gift. Mabel give his a quick peck as thanks but Bob kisses her again and she allows it but then reluctantly breaks it off when she notices Jack and James looking for them. As they are saying their goodbyes, Mabel does her best to keep the bracelet covered up, though Bob sees this and sneakily tries to get her to reveal it to Jack. After they leave, Mabel goes to the fortune teller’s tent and asks to have her fortune read but Jack shows up and believes the fortune is about him. The next day, Jack is washing his face in the pond behind his trailer and Mabel goes to talk to him when the bracelet falls off her arm and into the pond. When Jack retrieves it, he questions her about it and she admits that Bob bought it for her because he didn’t want to take their money. Later that day, Mabel receives a telegram from Jack stating that he won his fight and he would meet her at the church the next day so they can get married. Jack and Mabel get married, though Mabel appears a little reluctant to do so and at the reception, Bob, who had attended the wedding, jokes about wishing Mabel was the prize in their fight. Jack says he will fight any man to defend his wife’s honor and an exhibition match is arranged, which Bob ends up winning. Jack notices Mabel flirting and gets upset but his trainer has him take out his frustrations on the punching bag. Later, Jack tells James he wants to challenge Bob for the championship but James says that he is too far down on the list of contenders and will need to work his way up. Jack begins winning his fights and at a party at James’ house, James informs Jack that if he wins his next fight, he will be the #1 contender for Bob’s title. Jack worries about leaving Mabel alone while he goes to the fight, as he fears she is having an affair with Bob, but James says that he was doing this for her and to trust that she will be there for him. Jack wins his fight and afterwards, sees the barker and some of his friends from the fair were there to watch the fight. As the talk about the upcoming fight with Bob, Jack invites them back to his house to celebrate his win and surprise Mabel. When they get there, they find that Mabel is out and Jack pours some champagne, saying she should be back soon and they will drink when she gets there. As it gets late and Mabel still doesn’t show, their friends say their goodbyes and leave while Jack waits up for Mabel to return. Looking out the window, Jack sees Mabel getting out of Bob’s car and when she enters the apartment, they end up getting into an argument over her affections towards Bob. Jack then heads to the club to confront Bob over his spending so much time with Mabel and when Bob tries to punch him, Jack blocks it and knocks Bob down, then tells James that Bob can try and get revenge in the ring. When Jack returns home, he finds that Mabel is gone, having left a note saying she is staying with people that know how to treat her. On the night of the big fight, Jack’s trainer and the barker notice Mabel heading into Bob’s dressing room and they decide not to tell Jack that she is there. As the fight is about to start, Jack keeps looking out into the crowd to see if he can catch sight of Mabel but he doesn’t see her. As the fight commences, Jack notices Mabel sitting in the front row in Bob’s corner and it distracts him to where Bob is able to get the upper hand. As the fight continues, Mabel begins to get worried about Jack and starts making her way over tho his side of the ring. During the rest period before the final round, Mabel manages to reach Jack’s corner and tells him she is there in his corner and when he sees her there, he gets a second wind and manages to knock out Bob, winning the championship. As Jack celebrates his win, Mabel apologizes to him and he accepts and as they hug, she sees Bob watching them in the corner and takes off the bracelet he gave her and leaves it on the ground, which Bob’s trainer returns to him after the fight.

The Ring (1927) received high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seem to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best silent films, praising all of the visual nuances and symbols used to tell a compelling story. Out of all of the movies that Hitchcock made over the years, this is the only original screenplay that Hitchcock wrote himself, having collaborated with other writers for all of his other films. The movie was a success during it’s initial release but when it received a more general release, it was considered a failure.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Carl Brisson (Jack), Lillian Hall-Davis (Mabel), and Ian Hunter (Bob) doing good jobs in their roles, though I also liked Gordon Harker, who made for some funny comedic breaks as Jack’s trainer. The story was very good, with the main three actors showing a lot of emotions to help showcase the drama of the situation. To be honest, some aspects of the story and fight, primarily the whole underdog aspect, kind of feel a little similar to Rocky and makes me wonder of this might have influenced Stallone a little when he wrote that movie. The fights and camera angles during them did look a little off at times and didn’t seem as clear as the rest of the movie but that could have been intentional. Regardless, this is a great movie in it’s own right and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

movie, movie review

January 14th, 2017 Movie -Champagne (1928)


Today’s movie is bit of a treat for me. See, not only is it another Hitchcock movie, but it is one of his early silent films. Now I have seen several of Hitchcock’s movie but I have never seen any of his silent films. Now I will admit that they are not my normal cup of tea, I enjoy watching silent movies every now and then because you have to figure out the story mostly from the acting since there is no real dialogue. So let’s see what story can be found in today’s movie, Champagne (1928).

The plot: A wealthy man is reading the newspapers and sees a story about his rebellious daughter using his airplane to fly out to join her boyfriend on an ocean liner. The plane lands in the water near the ship and a life boat is sent out to pick up the young woman and the pilot. A crowd gathers on deck to watch the events and the woman spots her boyfriend in the crowd but doesn’t say anything as she heads off with the captain to get a cabin. As the woman gets settled into her cabin, the boyfriend goes looking for her and finally finds her cabin, passing a man who had been keeping an eye on the woman. Later, the boyfriend takes the woman out around the ship and they start to go out on the deck but it is too windy so they quickly head back inside. The boyfriend moves to give her his coat but they encounter the man, who offers the woman his coat and after putting it on, the woman and her boyfriend head outside, with the man watching them from the door as the boyfriend proposes to the woman and she accepts. As the journey continues, the boyfriend ends up getting seasick so the woman spends more time with the mystery man, which makes the boyfriend jealous. As the woman and the man eat dinner, the woman receives a telegram from her father, who warns her that her boyfriend will not be looked at favorably among their peers. The woman heads back to the cabin to show her boyfriend the telegram and tell him that she arranged for the Captain to marry them but the boyfriend gets upset that she didn’t talk to him about it. The two continue arguing and the woman takes off the ring and throws it to the ground, saying she won’t let the boyfriend ruin her trip. After arriving in Paris, the boyfriend tracks down the woman, who hasn’t contacted him in a week, and they reconcile. The woman introduces him to several people she has befriended, including the mystery man from the ship. When the woman starts showing off some of the fancy dresses she bought, the boyfriend tells her he prefers a more simplistic look so she mocks him by changing into a simple black dress with a scarf over her head. This causes them to have another argument and the woman starts speaking to the man on the boat. Some time later, the woman’s father shows up at the house and speaks privately with his daughter, telling her that they are now broke. The woman heads back to where the party guests are and has them leave, then tells her boyfriend about how she is now broke before leaving with her father. The woman decides to try and sell her jewelry to make some money but she ends up being robbed on the way. The woman and her father share an apartment and she cooks a meal for them but her cooking is barely edible so her father sneaks out and goes to eat at a fancy restaurant. The boyfriend shows up at the apartment and the two embrace but when the boyfriend offers to take the woman away from there, they get into another argument as the woman says she can’t leave her father now and that she has her pride so the boyfriend leaves, saying that she can’t live off of pride. The woman decides to go looking for a job and ends up being employed by a fancy restaurant to handout flowers to gentleman to place in their suit’s front pocket. While she is working, the mystery man sees her and invites her to sit at her table. While they are there, the woman’s imagination runs wild and she imagines the stranger trying to have his way with her but she laughs it off. When the boyfriend arrives, the woman sees him and invites him to sit with them. The mystery man leaves after a little while and gives the woman a note for to call him if she needs help. As the woman and the boyfriend continue talking, the woman admits that she works at the restaurant, and the boyfriend doesn’t approve and gets upset and after another argument ensues, he leaves. A short while later, the boyfriend returns with the woman’s father, who admits to the woman that they are not broke but he simply lied about it in order to teach her a lesson. The woman is happy to find out she is no longer poor, but grows angry at both her father and her boyfriend for how they treated her and leaves. She heads to the home of the mystery man, who says he is heading to America and she asks that he take her with him. They make their way onto a ship heading to America but when the man leaves, he locks the woman in the cabin. The woman tries to get out and when the door opens, hits the man over the head, only to realize that she hit her boyfriend, who was there to save her. As the two talk, the door starts to open so the boyfriend hides in the bathroom. The mystery man enters as does the woman’s father, who reveals that he hired the man to keep her from eloping with her boyfriend. The boyfriend emerges from the bathroom and starts fighting with the man but the father, along with a waiter, separates them and has the boyfriend and the man shake hands, and gives his approval for the boyfriend to marry his daughter. The boyfriend and woman embrace and the woman starts making plans but as another argument starts to occur, the boyfriend quickly stops it by kissing the woman.

Champagne (1928) met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics enjoyed the performance of Betty Balfour and Hitchcock’s skill at comedy. When the movie was first released, it was poorly received as the audience expected some more suspenseful story lines. Hitchcock himself would late voice his displeasure with the film, saying it “had no story to tell”.

This was an interesting movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Betty Balfour doing a good job going through various emotions that her character needed to play but the other characters were somewhat one-dimensional and bland. The story was somewhat entertaining but the majority of the comedy was in background actions, such as the woman arguing with her father at the restaurant, and thus continually preventing a man from coming down the stairs as he can’t through their constant movements. As to the main story, it could be considered Hitchcock poking fun at some of the eccentricities of the wealthy. It’s an interesting movie but I personally prefer Hitchcock’s thrillers.

Rating: 2 out of 5