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The Times (14/Dec/1931) - New Films in London: Rich and Strange

(c) The Times (14/Dec/1931)


The work of three British directors is represented in London this week. Mr. Alfred Hitchcock and Mr. Anthony Asquith have both relied for their material upon novels — a disappointment to those who have come to look to these directors for individual treatment of themes conceived in terms of the cinema. Even as adaptations of novels, neither of these productions is successful. Mr. Asquith has based his film upon Mr. Compton Mackenzie's Carnival, and Mr. Hitchcock has worked upon Rich and Strange, by Mr. Dale Collins. A Gentleman of Paris, another British picture, directed by Mr. Sinclair Hill, works out the story of a murder set in Paris.


Rich and Strange. — Admirers of Mr. Hitchcock's work will be dissatisfied with this mildly satirical story of a suburban clerk and his wife who discover that riches are not a guarantee of happiness. An unexpected legacy sets the happy pair off on a tour of the world. In what way, you wonder, will these innocents released from rigid routine come to grief in the luxurious liner? They come to grief in the least distinguished way open to them: they are unfaithful to each other. The bogus Princess decamps with most of the husband's money; the honourable but rather dull commander relinquishes what claim he has upon the penitent wife; and in the course of a shipwreck and a voyage in a Chinese junk love of the semi-detached and the secure is re-born in the hearts of the adventurers. Mr. Hitchcock is one of the two British film directors who might be expected to turn a world tour to immense pictorial profit, but on this occasion his impressions of the various ports of call are formal and imaginative. Nor can it be said that he has sacrificed ideas for popularity. The hero is unsympathetic, a foolish boor, and the film neither excuses nor explains him; the story moves slowly and disconnectedly; and the dialogue is not even broadly funny. Mr. Hitchcock is clearly out of form. And Mr. Henry Kendall and Miss Joan Barry are as clearly out of luck.