Rich and Strange on TCM

Rich and Strange is a strange entry indeed in the Alfred Hitchcock filmography, but his sensibility is very much present in the stragne social satire and black comedy. I surveyed the film for Turner Classic Movies Online this month.

The dreariness of middle class life in Rich and Strange
The dreariness of middle class life in Rich and Strange

Rich and Strange, Alfred Hitchcock’s third sound feature, is a sly and strange film indeed. Made in 1931, after such early classics as The Lodger (1927), Blackmail (1929) and Murder! (1930) but before Hitchcock had firmly established himself as “the master of suspense,” Rich and Strange is not a thriller at all but a romantic comedy of innocents abroad directed as a satire of bourgeois complacency and cultural provincialism. The title comes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which is quoted in a title card early in the film that promises that our middle class married couple will “suffer a sea change / Into something rich and strange.”

Hitchcock had experimented with the expressionistic possibilities of sound in Blackmail and Murder!. With Rich and Strange, he reverts back to a silent movie aesthetic, with droll title cards introducing and commenting upon sequences and numerous scenes played out with no dialogue or sound other than the film’s score. He also has a rare writing credit on the film, which he scripted with his wife and longtime collaborator, Alma Reville. Hitchcock has claimed that the film was inspired by their honeymoon and he told Francois Truffaut that, “Before shooting it, Mrs. Hitchcock and I set out to do some preliminary research on the story.” Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto called it “one of his most openly autobiographical films” (is the name Fred short for Alfred?) and Hitchcock himself expressed a personal fondness for the film. “I liked the picture,” he admitted to Truffaut, “it should have been more successful.”

Read the complete feature here.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I’m a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I’ve written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View.

I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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