24 August, 2014

Rich and Strange

When you watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie, you cannot but watch it with preconceived notions and base expectations. So I watched Rich and Strange with a barrage of expectations.

Rich and Strange is a 1932 Alfred Hitchcock film adapted from a novel by Dale Collins. It’s a story of a couple from suburban London – Fred (Henry Kendall) and Emily (Joan Barry) stuck in the rut of middle class existence – an ill paying unhappy to do job, the taxing daily commute, lack of enjoyable entertainment.An out-of-the-blue letter from Fred’s uncle suddenly leaves them with enough money to finally ‘live their life’ and travel the world.

The story holds relevance even today – a couple leading a mundane life, drifting apart, finding alternate partners and ultimately realizing where their true love lies. Alas, the film has no element of the suspense and thrill that you would expect from an Alfred Hitchcock film and that is the biggest dampener!
The characters are very well etched out – Fred - the frustrated, chauvinist, materialistic husband and Emily – the kind, nurturing, simplistic yet strong wife.  The treatment of the film is like a silent film – no background score, minimalistic dialogues, and captions before major scene segments – which is not too bad to watch really.

The film has some funny moments – like when the couple goes to watch the Folies Bergere cabaret in Paris or when Fred almost Chaplin-ishly wrecks a woman’s hat on the London underground or adjusts his watch according to an elevator indicator in a hotel mistaking it for a clock.

Overall, Rich and Strange is an average watch considering it is a movie made by Alfred Hitchcock. It demands one worthy watch for the story bearing resemblance to present day society, for the lovely locales of the 1930s – Paris, Singapore, Colombo, for the sets used in the movie (like creating a whole Titanic-ish ship), and above all for Joan Barry’s rendition of a gentle, gracious yet strong woman who doesn’t give up on love, on her relationship and even on life when they’re almost dying on a sunken ship.

 Rating: 2/5 – for the story, sets & locales and Joan Barry

Based in Mumbai, Deepti is a travel writer and a content builder for various projects. As an avid movie-watcher, she believes film makers should respect the audiences’ intelligence and need for ‘real entertainment’. She also writes about her travels with her toddler on her blog - neverjetlagged.blogspot.com.  

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