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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant and enjoyable early Hitchcock, May 2, 2010
The popular and even legendary reputation Alfred Hitchcock has acquired over the decades can become an obstacle to appreciating some of his early work, such as almost a dozen silent films before 1930, and also some of his early sound films, such as "Rich and Strange". As a silent film enthusiast, I particularly enjoyed seeing many elements of the silent film language in this early `30s movie, such as title cards to convey certain information with the written word, as well as echoes of German Expressionist cinema in which Hitchcock started his career while working for the German UFA studio in the 1920s. This style emphasizes visual effects, the use of light and shadow, some camera tricks and unusual angles, all of which add depth, dimension and dynamics to the story that is being expressed through a more visual medium rather than dialogue and sound. As a result, "Rich and Strange" does not have too much dialogue, and certainly none that could not be expressed in a few intertitles, making this something like a silent film with some sound and dialogue - at least to those of us well acquainted with the silent medium.

Other viewers will have to put aside their expectations of mystery thrillers because Hitchcock successfully directed other styles, especially in the first decade or two of his career. "Rich and Strange", for example, is a drama with a touch of comedy at the right moments, focussing on a couple's marriage crisis and personal inner challenges. The story and indeed, Hitchcock's direction, shows deep insight into human nature, such as a married man's restlessness after eight years of marriage and mundane work, and his dream of adventure on the high seas. When the opportunity arises to fulfill this dream and experience what he believes he has been missing, their lives go off on separate tangents during a lengthy ocean voyage. Confronted with new and challenging situations and different, even exotic people, they both believe to be in love with someone else until they find their way back to each other, but not before a frightening ordeal aboard the cheap steamship meant to be taking them home. It is a two-fold voyage of physically visiting faraway exotic places as well as the emotional voyage of the inner psyche, as they are forced to find themselves and get their life back on track again. No doubt this kind of voyage is something that happens to most of us to some degree, and I found it particularly enjoyable how Hitchcock conveyed this message, as well as seeing interesting and unusual scenes and sets representing the foreign and exotic locations (which could well represent the new and foreign challenges within themselves). On its own, "Rich and Strange" is a charming and very enjoyable film of the early 1930s, and due to its different style, perhaps an important and interesting addition to the Hitchcock collection.
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Location: Tumut, NSW Australia

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