Mary (1931)

I’m not sure I can give this a fair crack of the whip. We watched the first half in German with French subtitles until I decided that that neither my French or German was making much headway (despite having seen the English language version) so we watched the rest on YouTube with English subtitles.

It was okay. Not as much fun as the original. There’s no kitten in bed for starters.

Source: Extra on La Taverne de la Jamaique DVD (Universal Pictures France) and via Clássicos da Sétima Arte – Canal Alternativo on YouTube

Murder! (1930)

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I have always liked Herbert Marshall. I find him immensely charming and he was perfectly cast in this.

The final sequence was heavily influenced by German cinema and who doesn’t love a trapeze artist coming on for his act dressed as a woman?

Hitchcock’s films are full of humour. I think he is a bit underrated in that respect. There is nearly always a laugh in one of his films except maybe The Wrong Man.

One really notable thing about the film was that it featured a female barrister. A real one was called to the bar in 1922 but I think that I can safely say I have never seen one on film ever. I mean there was This Life on the telly but on film before that? Can anybody point me to another example?

Appearance by a cat or dog: cat slinking along at the beginning

and a kitten!

Alma fact: scenario by
Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)

Juno and the Paycock (1930)

I’ve seen a lot of films and this is one of the worst I have ever seen. If a film as static and talky and irritating as this turns up on Talking Pictures TV I stop watching but I was obliged to finish this. I even at one point said I’d rather watch Frenzy which is really saying something.

I’m aware it is a relatively faithful adaptation of the play and I think that is particularly where the problem lies. It is so stagey with actors proclaiming rather than acting. And to anybody who argues there are Hitchcockian touches, there aren’t. Early sound films didn’t have to be like this.

One ironic thing is that I was dismayed that Barry Fitzgerald was in it and it turned out that he wasn’t the worst thing about it. The casting was odd too – you have members of the Abbey Theatre and…Edward Chapman younger than his son, John Laurie, and talking of John Laurie…One thing that actually did tickle me was the fact that John Laurie appears to have been the Sean Connery of his day by dint of the fact he didn’t even try to hide his Scottish accent.

Appearance by a cat or dog: reversed shot of a cat climbing up/down a lamppost
Alma fact: scenario by
Source: Film First DVD

Blackmail (1929)

I watched the sound version and the silent version ages ago and enjoyed them both. I preferred Anny Ondra when she was silent because the dubbing is all wrong. Joan Barry was far too posh. The knife scene works well both ways but I have to say the sound version is very clever. Hitchcock has turned into Hitchcock.

I love the glimpses of London in the twenties we get particularly those seen during Alice’s walk of misery after the murder.

Appearance by a cat or dog: none
Transport: motor vehicles
Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)/Erpressung (Arthaus)

The Manxman (1929)

I’m not a fan of romantic films and I generally don’t care a wit for love triangles and if the points of the triangle are as desperately dull as they are in this, I definitely don’t care.

I’m struggling to find reasons to like this or moments of genius because of the director but I’m failing. Sorry, Alfred, but this is down around position 52.

I concede this sequence looked great

Appearance by a cat or dog: one dog
Transport: fishing boats
Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)

Hanwells of Hanwell Rolls Royce & Bentley Specialists

Hanwells of Hanwell

For as long as I can remember, this showroom has been selling secondhand luxury cars on the Uxbridge Road in Hanwell.

[Update] A recent revelation via the Twitter account @EalingCinema is that the building was once a cinema called the Coronation Hall Picture Palace, a rather grandiose name, I feel. Here it is on a map from 1914, and you can also see the Grand Electric Theatre (latterly the Tudor) on Cherington Road.

Hanwell cinemas (Middlesex XV.11 Revised 1912 Published 1914)

I have also found the listings for them in Kelly’s Directory of Middlesex, 1914.

Kelly's Directory 1914

(This post was first published in January.)

Champagne (1928)

This was silly but reasonably entertaining. For some reason, Gordon Harker playing a Wall Street businessman seems particularly daft but that’s silent films for you. I’ve seen this twice and I can’t remember much of the storyline. Says it all really.

Appearance by a cat or dog: none

Transport: a “ship”; a “plane”; a boat; a train

Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)

The Farmer’s Wife (1928)

I wonder if this film was based on a play?

The Farmer’s Wife is the first film in this chronological viewing of Hitchcock films that I can say that I have wholeheartedly enjoyed on its own merits. The exception may be The Lodger but it is hard to be sure how I feel about it as a film since it is so familiar. I think it helped that The Farmer’s Wife was based on a play so it already had a strong story with well-drawn characters. I thought it was very funny with some splendid performances. I have really enjoyed the two performances I have seen from Lillian Hall-Davis and it makes me sad even over eighty years later thinking of her tragic end.  

The unexpected ending

Appearance by a cat or dog: two spaniels/pack of hounds/plus various farmyard animals

Transport: horses (notably a piebald one)/pony and trap

Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)

The Ring (1927)

The story was terrible with the dullest, most unbelievable love triangle. There was no chemistry between Jack and Nellie and her change of allegiance at the end was as unmotivated as the rest of her behaviour throughout the film.

However, despite this, the film was a lot of fun to watch. The fine looking leads gave equally fine performances. But it was the extras that made it so enjoyable. The fairground and boxing scenes looked authentic, there was great trick photography for the Albert Hall, a thoroughly delightful jazzy dance at a party, inventive camera angles, and a variety of special effects.

Alma fact: uncredited writer & continuity
Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)

Easy Virtue (1928)

Easy Virtue was made immediately after Downhill with some of the same cast members but I enjoyed it a lot more.

I was a little unclear how we were supposed to view Larita. She didn’t tell her husband that she was a divorcee which would be quite an omission at the beginning of a marriage even now. And she smoked like a chimney. There was one scene when she had a fag dangling from her mouth and she looked rather common. However, she was completely innocent of any shenanigans and so was a wronged woman. John’s family weren’t welcoming but maybe they weren’t happy with her stinking of smoke.

It was refreshing that the most supportive character was someone who is usually portrayed as the bitch – the former lover.

I’d like to see a restored version of this if just to see the wall coverings in the dining room scenes a little better.

Alma fact: none
Appearance by a cat or dog: several dogs including a French poodle and a British bulldog in a train luggage car
Trains: two trains featured but no humans were seen travelling in one
Source: jamespeterf’s channel on YouTube