A rich family, the Hillcrests, is fighting against the speculator, Hornblower, who sends away poor farmers to build factories on their lands. When Mrs. Hillcrest finds out that Chloe Hornblower was a prostitute, she uses this secret to blackmail the speculator and force him to stop his business. Written by
Claudio Sandrini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Few Hitchcock Touches in An Otherwise Bland Film
"The Skin Game" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's earlier sound pictures, and although the story held potential, it is a rather bland film despite a couple of good Hitchcock touches.
The story centers on a rivalry between two neighboring families who have very different views on the future of their community. Mr. Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn) wants to see the land developed and used for factories and businesses, while the Hillcrest family wants to see the traditional homes and countryside preserved. The resulting conflicts hold some real potential, and lead to some good moments as the families try to outwit each other in a "skin game", but the movie as a whole is never really very compelling.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly why this is not a better film. There are no big names in the cast, but Hitchcock made several fine movies with just this sort of cast. Gwenn is good in his role, and Phyllis Konstam is believable and sympathetic as his daughter-in-law whose troubled past eventually provokes a crisis between the two families.
Perhaps Hitchcock stayed too close to the play on which the film is based (it does have a bit of a stage-bound feel), or perhaps for once he did not have a strong sense of the material's potential.
Hitchcock saved his best for the movie's most important scene, when a crucial parcel of land is auctioned off. The auction scene, and a confrontation afterwards between the main characters, is well-done with some good twists.
There are also some nice ironic touches at the end.
Hitchcock fans should still watch "The Skin Game" at least once, to notice the ways that the director's usual touch can be seen, but this movie may not be of much interest to others.
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