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Rich and Strange
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Reviews & Ratings for
East of Shanghai More at IMDbPro »Rich and Strange (original title)

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More Strange than Rich

Author: bbmtwist from United States
19 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hitchcock's 1931 Rich And Strange is an odd little film, based on a popular novel. A British couple come into an inheritance, go on a cruise, have affairs, then after a boat sinking, are rescued and re-united.

This is a theme that has been used many times in film history. Bored couple sow wild oats, but find "there's no place like home." Pretty basic stuff.

The odd thing here is that the husband Fred, played by Henry Kendall, is so unsympathetic, such an unfeeling, selfish cad, that the devotion of his wife Emily, played by Joan Barry, is unbelievable. One almost thinks her dim to throw away her on board older Romeo, Gordon (Percy Marmont), to remain with Fred, who is taken by a gold-digging false "Princess (Betty Amman) to the tune of 1,000 pounds.

The film is much more of an early sound film (title cards, sound effects, score) than Hitch's three prior films (JUNO, MURDER!, SKIN GAME) and almost looks like a 1929 effort than one from 1931. These early sound moments are shuffled with the dialogue sequences.

There are the usual cinematic and editing moments from Hitch: an opening montage of workers ending their day and heading home on the Underground; a joke about a misbehaving umbrella, ditto newspaper; a close up track shot of text; quick edit montages of sight seeing in Paris; point of view shots; a veiled kiss gone wrong; the couple dead drunk careening to their rooms; a two shot of the wife seen in the mirror of a make-up case, also containing a close-up of the Princess; the two couples in parallel rickshaws; a love letter blurred by point of view tears; menu items leaping out at the audience, etc.

The time is given on IMDb as both 81 minutes and 83 minutes. My print ran 1:22:35.

Since we are un-engaged with the couple as played, we never really get into the story or care what happens to them. It moves along briskly and is basically well directed, photographed and edited. It's just that the narrative and the players are of little interest.

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Another Romantic Comedy From Hitchcock

Author: Peppermint Twisted from United States
5 May 2016

This film is known as "The Rich and Strange" (UK) and "East of Shanghai" (US). It's one of Hitchcock's romantic comedies that is often wrongly tagged as a thriller film and I would imagine this is because Hitchcock is famous for making thriller films. This film is NOT a thriller.

This film is more like other earlier Hitchcock works: Young and Innocent (1937) or The Farmer's Wife (1928) due to the romantic comedy nature of the films. Do not expect this film to be anything like Vertigo (1958) or even Psycho (1960) because it is not.

"The Rich and Strange" is not a bad film it's pretty good but not what most of would think of when we think of Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock's real calling was for suspenseful thrillers and not romantic comedies but he really doesn't disappoint with films like this one.

This film is a moral piece: A man and woman is poor, they inherit lots of money and go sailing around the world. While on a ship their relationship falls apart as they realize they were happier when they were poor instead of being filthy rich - and in the end they lose everything becoming poor and happy again. The end.


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Cats Don't Belong On The Dinner Table

Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
2 October 2013

Predictably well Crafted and Visually Interesting Early Hitchcock. This is a Comedy/Drama with none of the Thriller or Suspense Traits that one would expect. But Hitch was never one to shy away from Humour and was quite good at it, and like here, it was usually Dark with a Bite of Sarcasm and Satire.

A Movie that is Broad in Scope and tells the Soap Opera Tale of Infidelity and Marital Angst aboard an Ocean Cruise. There are quite a few touches from a Director who Loved the Camera and Played with it as much as the Audience. It is a good looking Film with some very Quirky Characters bouncing off the Couple as they find out things about Themselves as well as the World around Them.

The Second Half brings things Home with more Drama and less Lover's Angst and the Situations are Bizarre and Intriguing. It is well worth a Watch for anyone interested in Early Cinema, Hitchcock Sidestepping (but not really) His usual Fascination with Death and its Surroundings, or for just Movie Fans in General. Keep an eye out for Cats that insist on exploring the Dinner Table. Overall, the Movie will not disappoint.

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Humorous and Light, Hitch before he was Suspense...

Author: Tim Kidner ( from Salisbury, United Kingdom
8 July 2012

Rich & Strange, part of my 5 disc The Hitchcock Collection box-set is essentially a World whistle-stop Tour, taken by 1930's 'Society' and which could only be beyond the wildest dreams of your average, everyday working couple.

So, when the Hill's - Fred & Emily (I think he's a clerk) get a letter conveniently announcing that their inheritance is being unlocked early, so they can enjoy life now, and the next moment they're soon eyeing up the Eiffel Tower. This would have been wondrous escapism and extremely fashionable fodder for cinema audiences of the day and Hitch gets to some quite exotic locations and generally makes good use of them. Some of ship scenes aboard look very set-like, though.

He adds some stylistic touches that echo his playfulness - seasickness is superbly portrayed, with items on the rich food menu floating off the printed sheet in wavy lines, echoing the nausea that poor Fred is suffering.

Things get more heated and exotic once the Far East is reached, as friendships are made and dalliances with fellow cruise members start putting a strain on their relationship. It doesn't really matter who these others are and all that, it's all far too fluffy and forgettable to matter but it's a quiet joy, as long as it's taken for what it is - and no more.

The look and style is very early 30's but strangely, the transfer quality is good to very good, with the odd flicker and blemish and is much better than the later 'Secret Agent' in that box-set of mine. It's of the quality where you only see the blemishes once you've been watching for a while, rather than the other way round.

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Almost a mix between a silent film and a talkie

Author: goldenswim from Canada
29 November 2010

This is a very interesting movie to watch. Almost a mix between a silent film and a talkie, there is very little talking in it with a lot of usage of titles to let us know what is going on. The first few minutes features no talking at all. A fascinating glimpse into the 30s though and an earlier film age/time. The "young" couple - married 8 years and apparently he is bored - have the opportunity to enjoy life/spend some money/go on a cruise when a wealthy uncle gives them so money to enjoy now instead of waiting till he is dead. Nice uncle! They go on a trip and eventually a cruise. Loved the cruising scenes including the pool. I have been cruising and the pools are much more crowded now it appears! She seems to meet her soul mate and have a largely platonic affair while he is quickly seduced by a "Princess" who turns out to be something less. Fun to see the scenes with the street vending. The makeup on the lead character is off putting, but it was a fun movie to watch.

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Travelling with Hitchcock

Author: Petri Pelkonen ( from Finland
4 July 2008

Rich and Strange (1931) was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, his wife Alma Reville and Val Valentine from a novel by Dale Collins.It's a slightly different Hitchcock movie, more comical than thrilling.But still very good.In the story there's a married couple, Fred and Emily Hill (Henry Kendall and Joan Barry).They have a chance to get out of the boring life in London suburbs and go out on a cruise.There they nearly forget each other when they meet other interesting people.Emily becomes friendly with Commander Gordon (Percy Marmont).Fred falls for a beautiful dame who calls herself The Princess.Are they able to go back to their old life again? Hitchcock was an excellent director of women.There were some many memorable performances by women in Hitch movies.Here Joan Barry does remarkable job as Emily.She was heard in Hitchcock's earlier film Blackmail( 1929).In this one we also get to see this beautiful and talented woman who left the industry in 1934.Henry Kendall makes a fine male lead.We also get to see one comical performance by Elsie Randolph playing the part of The Old Maid.She worked with Hitchcock again about forty years later in Frenzy (1972).Rich and Strange offers a little bit of suspense, but it deals mostly with romance and comedy.This movie only proves that Hitch could have some variation to his style.

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A picaresque Love Story

Author: threerandot from Canada
17 November 2007

This is one of Hitchcock's early films that is not only a fun and romantic story filled with humorous touches, it's also a fascinating look at a time that is very removed from our own. Hitchcock already shows some special film techniques that were probably quite new at the time that may seem quaint today, but are definitely a window on another time. There is also a wonderful lack of score and a lack of dialog in so much of this movie that illustrates Hitchcock's use of "Pure Cinema" so admirably. Hitchcock also uses title cards to help tell the story. I love the way Hitchcock takes a very ordinary couple and put them on a voyage around the world. This voyage not only puts them in dangerous situations, but it tests their love. Joan Barry is wonderful and sympathetic and Henry Kendall is her dour husband who wants to travel the world, tired of the workaday world. A fun and involving story about life, love and marriage.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

There was a MacGuffin

Author: RogerNel from United States
12 April 2011

I agree with many of the other reviewers that the value of this movie is that it gives a clue to the Hitchcock of his future movies. The camera-work, particular in the earlier part, is much above other films of that era. Some clues to the camera techniques that he used in his other 30's vintage movies, such as Sabotage, Thirty-Nine Steps are apparent here.

I do disagree with those that there was no MacGuffin in this picture. Remember the scene at the theater in Paris where a bearded (obviously fake beard) man pinches her bottom. I was waiting for the man to reappear later in the film (he didn't). Also it was a little erotic diversion to a sexy woman in a dull marriage.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Decent Melodrama

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
6 June 2009

Rich and Strange (1931)

** (out of 4)

Henry Kendall and Joan Barry play a happy couple who win a large inheritance and believe that all their worries are over. The two go on a cruise across the world where he ends up falling in love with a princess and she ends up in the arms of another man. This early film from Hitchcock certainly isn't amongst his best but it is a rather nice blend of drama and some black comedy thrown in. The biggest problem is that even by 1931 standards this thing here is pretty old fashioned and rather bland storywise. Throughout the silent era we saw countless films dealing with happy couples turning sour after money is brought into their lives and the story here really doesn't add anything new. What it does add is a great final fifteen-minutes where we really get to see Hitchcock explode as a director and turn into that "Master of Suspense". The final deals with their cruise ship sinking and the couple must try and find a way to survive. How all of this plays out is extremely well directed and Hitchcock perfectly builds the suspense. I was also quite pleased with the performances especially that of Barry who easily steals the film. Barry didn't have a very long career, perhaps due to her voice, but I found her to be very pleasant here and enjoyed watching her. Overall this movie is certainly flawed but fans of the director will want to check it out at least for the final fifteen-minutes or so. A lot of these early Hitchcock movies are viewed today so people can see early touches of a future legend and they'll see plenty of that here. Also check out the dark comedy in the form of a black cat late in the film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Hitchcock's First Travel Advisory

Author: Bill Slocum ( from Greenwich, CT United States
15 October 2007

I imagine when Hitchcock scholars and experts find themselves together, the talk is not of the Master's great films like "North By Northwest" or "Strangers On A Train", but a lesser-known effort like this one from 1931, obscure and seriously flawed, which showcases the great director in fledgling form.

Emily and Fred Hill (Joan Barry and Harry Kendall) are a middle-class London couple scrimping to stay ahead. He begrudges their lot; she accepts it. Change comes in the form of a letter from an uncle, saying he will set them up so they can enjoy a life of globetrotting luxury. They make plans for a world cruise. But their problems have only begun.

Just ask Richard Hannay, Roger O. Thornhill, or Marion Crane. Well, Marion's indisposed at the moment, but you get the idea. Travel and Hitchcock go together like moths and candlelight, setting one up for a perilous journey at best. This is perhaps Hitchcock's earliest foray into this theme, and not his most successful or memorable. Hitchcock tries to mix comedy with another element, in this case domestic drama rather than suspense, but the two do not cohere, at least not here.

The Hills are a dull, flat couple, with no chemistry or personality. When they find themselves at the Folies Bergère, in the form of cross-cutting with footage that looks ten years older than the rest of this film, they are abashed at the outfits of the female performers. "The curtain's gone up too soon!" gasps Emily. "They aren't dressed."

When the Hills drift away from each other on an ocean cruise, it seems a mercy killing more than a tragic thing, even if the people they partner off with are drips, too. Emily's man, Gordon (Percy Marmont) carries around photographs of himself sitting next to empty chairs, which he suggests be filled by Emily. Fred's girl "the Princess" (Betty Amann) has Clara Bow's eyes and Wallace Beery's five o'clock shadow. There's also an obnoxious fellow passenger, a dowdy spinster whom Hitchcock always introduces with a cartoonish horn cue. Subtlety was still to come.

Everything is shot in an abrupt manner, with confusing blocking and strained dialogue. Hitchcock tries for some early comedy with Fred and his umbrella that doesn't come off, and Kendall seems to aim for laughs while Berry plays for tears. When Fred and Emily break off, they are seen being jostled on a pair of wedged-together rickshaws, one of many clunky attempts at symbolism.

Emily's the only vaguely sympathetic character, in part because she really cares about her husband and agonizes over her affair with Gordon, but mostly because she's among the first of Hitchcock's many magnetic blondes, her platinum ringlets whipping around her face like a Botticelli aboard the open deck of a Chinese junk near the film's conclusion.

Matters conclude with a dangerous situation as set-piece for the protagonists to come to grips with, and presumably repair their relationship. Only they aren't active participants in the resolution, and except for the fate of a friendly cat, nothing about the ending resonates.

At least you get some enjoyable views of London in the early 1930s, and a chance to see Hitchcock when he was still working for food. "Rich And Strange" is Hitchcock paying his dues, and learning his trade, one for scholars but not casual film goers.

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