Rich and Strange (1931)-aka East of Shanghai
Adaptation & Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Novel by Dale Collins
Before Alfred Hitchcock was thinking of ways to terrify our inner Horror geek, he made films with a bit more milder approach. Seen as a Director beyond his years for the time spent in England, he completed a little over two dozen films before making the move to the states. Films with little dialogue and solely relying on its original shots and Actors above anything else. While this particular film ended on a more humorous note as opposed to anything.
Telling the tale of Fred (Henry Kendall) and Emily (Joan Barry), a married couple who couldn’t unfortunately say they had seen better days. Though tired of not being able to obtain such, its with almost no time passing that they hear of his Uncle giving him a lump sum of money in order to enjoy the finer things in life. Trading in their rags and jumping aboard a ship, they begin a cruise in which they immediately feel the affects of wealth. Spent mostly dizzy and without having to answer to anybody, the two shortly meet someone else aboard that each would spend time with; a connection claiming unshared at that point.
Smitten by Commander Gordon (Percy Marmont), speaking of how uncomfortable she felt opening up to her husband. While after Fred had gotten over his initial sea sickness, he swoons for a, princess (Betty Amann) who he makes his moves on; though with little prospect. Though both enjoy their time with the other, plotting to separate indefinitely once landing in Singapore. It’s only then when Emily wises up to he fact that without her, her husband would remain a fool. So lost in his ‘princess’ that he fails to realize she couldn’t even call herself that. Making the choice to leave Gordon she makes her way back to Fred; with hopes of getting through to him. However, not so easily convinced as it isn’t until he gets wind of the 1000 pounds he invested for their trip having been stolen from the actual con artist (princess). Irate to the point of threatening to strangle his wife should he hear the words, “I told you so.” With barely enough to make it back, their luck briefly diminishes as they become locked in their room as they collide with something midway. Or so they thought. Awoken with the prospect of being saved so long as they waited it out, eventually they see people boarding the ship to rid it of the few salvageable items. Brought food, though not what one would initially expect, they eventually return home where things remained the same; with one minor exception. It seemed now Emily wished to experience the finer things in life with her husband happy to leave things the way they were.
Funny in that, it’s always what we want that we believe will make up happy. Once obtained, not only a different story but usually quite the opposite and in fact, able to let us realize just how ‘good’ we may have had it before. Though whether the grass truly is greener on the other side is something we usually feel the need to find out for ourselves. Hitchcock was indeed, a great storyteller and always aware of his surroundings as well as those for his characters in his films. Sure to project a bit of comedic essence to some of the unfortunate aspects we as adults may deal with from time to time.