Marital Discord As Seen By Hitchcock
|Work Commences on British-International Soundstage for Rich and Strange|
Fifth Of Seven Hitchcocks: Rich and Strange (1931)
Young Hitchcock applies himself to a married couple meeting temptation aboard world cruising well above humble station of either. Was drama here suggested by Alf and wife Alma's own union and circumstance? The idea was said to have been dreamed up by them while honeymooning, but a Dale Collins wrote the novel that preceded Rich and Strange. Had he collaborated with the Hitchcocks and incorporated their ideas? A lot of what happens sure looks to have been H-derived. The theme would see 40's service as Perfect Strangers (aka Vacation From Marriage) with Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr. Those English must have pondered often the drabness of workaday lives. Hitchcock's opener montage of that, all silent, gets Rich and Strange off to richly cinematic start; we're almost disappointed for talking to begin after those first few minutes. I always thought Hitchcock worked well with relationships; he understood people despite having issues with some of them in his own life. There was initial hope that Rich and Strange could be shot on locations --- it was about travel after all --- but British International said no, obliging Hitchcock to fake foreign ports, which he does expertly. Amazing what this burgeoning talent could do on comparative low budgets. Rich and Strange was unfortunately not a success (I found release charts indicating US circulation as East Of Shanghai, Pat Powers the distributor, but no ads or specific playdates). Maybe it seemed to audiences as dreary as lives the main characters were trying to get away from. You could make that argument now but for invention throughout by Hitchcock. He was at this point only a few films away from the one that would set pace for thriller emphasis to come, The Man Who Knew Too Much.