East of Shanghai


Comedy / Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 5.7 10 4431

black and white inheritance

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Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 06, 2022 at 04:50 PM

Top cast

765.18 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 23 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by classicsoncall 6 / 10

"Are you satisfied with your present circumstances?"

Like Hitchcock's earlier film "Blackmail", "Rich and Strange" contains elements of silent film as a holdover from an earlier era. It features extended scenes uninterrupted by voice, and the use of inter title cards from time to time. Considering the lack of a murder victim, the movie plays out interestingly as it follows the infidelities of a married couple on board a round the world cruise. Some of it works, and some of it doesn't.

What I enjoy in the early Hitchcock films is the experimentation with themes that will become a hallmark of the director's style in later years. The use of humor is abundant in the early going, starting out with the choreographed umbrella routine in an early scene. There's also the three shipboard friends that appear from time to time that walk and gesture in unison. Elsie Randolph's running gag as the Old Maid is also a frequent comedic break, that just about runs it's course by the story's end.

The troubled marriage at the heart of the story is believable enough, as Fred Hill (Henry Kendall) and wife Emily (Joan Barry) find comfort in the arms of shipboard strangers. It's when The Princess (Betty Amann) ditches Fred and absconds with his money that he's finally confronted with the sham and phoniness of his life by Emily. Why Emily goes back to him is a question mark though, that's not explored sufficiently, especially since she found her own soul mate aboard ship in Commander Gordon (Percy Marmont). Maybe it was Gordon's age, he appeared to have about twenty years on the disarmingly attractive Emily.

I don't know about you, but I would have certainly made more of an effort to escape my cabin once I realized the cruise ship was sinking. Fred and Emily didn't strike me as being too panic stricken, with voices not much above normal. The black cat that passed by once they managed to escape was a nice touch, though the bad luck fell on the unlucky feline. I guess Chinese food had a reputation even back in the 1930's.

The first time I saw the upside down drowning technique used in a movie was in the 1970 spaghetti Western "Cry Blood, Apache", but here it's used some forty years earlier, and with no malice involved. However it seems to me that the crew of the Chinese junk might have made an effort to save their buddy. The trade off for a newborn baby was a redemptive moment.

If you watch the film again, pay attention to the Gordon photograph that Emily draws herself into with a marker. It's shown at three different times, and each time the drawing is slightly different. I wonder why they do that; was it a precaution against the possible loss of one of the pictures? A similar situation with an altered photo occurs in "Mr. Moto's Last Warning".

I rather enjoyed "Rich and Strange", it's informative and fun to see the early work of a director of Alfred Hitchcock's stature. It's not often the title of a film also describes it's own action, this one is indeed both rich and strange.

Reviewed by TexMetal4JC 7 / 10

A strange movie.

RICH AND STRANGE is certainly nothing like stereotypical Hitchcock. Even early movies like The Lodger -- which was some five years older than this one -- contained some sort of crime or mystery. Even his comedies -- The Trouble With Harry, for example -- revolved around murder and mayhem. But not this movie.

It's old and it's a comedy, but its title really says it all. Rich and very, very strange. Hitchcock's sense of humor is very plain here, and there are several laugh-out-loud scenes (when Fred Hill tries to set his watch, and later when he tries to get into bed, for example). But as the movie goes on, they become less frequent.

The action stops focusing on the comedic aspect of this young couple's acquiring a great sum of money and spending it on a world cruise. Instead it focuses on the serious aspects of their dual extra-marital affairs on the ship, and later their actions when it wrecks and sinks.

And once there, the movie is hardly comedic at all. Hitchcock's darker side comes out when a sailer drowns while his comrades watch on in fascination, and the scene with the rescued black cat is especially disturbing.

So what to say about Rich and Strange? The acting is fine, Hitchcock's directing is up to par (especially with the silent opening scenes), and the plot is engaging. But the movie goes from screwball hilarity to morbid survival, and then ends where it began so abruptly that the viewer is left wondering when he or she dozed off and missed the last half of the movie.

It's not stereotypical Hitchcock at all, but by no means does this make it a bad movie. The film is quite good but hard to stomach on account that it is so bizarre.


Reviewed by mstomaso 6 / 10

Rich? not really, but certainly strange, and a bit humorous

Rich and Strange or East of Shanghai, is a British romantic comedy dating from the transitional period between silent and sonic film. It was not very popular at the box office, but remains one of the director's (Alfred Hitchcock) favorite works from the period. The reasons seem obvious enough. Unlike the classic Hitchcock thriller/mystery/comedy "The Lady Vanishes" released several years later, Rich and Strange was an adaptation of a semi-comedic novel which was not plot-heavy but did rely on equally strong characterization. Hitchcock took the change of pace for a ride, and played with visual experiments, jokes and even visual metaphors which, if you notice them and think about them, actually enhance character development.

Some reviewers have complained about the use of placecards - actually I think this was intended to enhance the comedic aspect of the film. Take a look back two years at Hitccock's "Blackmail" for comparison. This film was originally intended and partially shot silent. Hitchcock neither used placecards nor did he need them to convey his points in Blackmail.

There are some classic bits of Hitchcock camera-work here. During meaningless conversations, meaningless framing is used seemingly to mock the action of the film itself. The classic example of this is a pair of symmetrically arranged scenes where two of the main characters are walking to and from a social event on a cruise ship, blathering away, while the camera follows their feet and Emily's (Joan Barry) dragging dress. Jarring, yet humorous!

Joan Barry's stunning and adorable portrayal of Emily -our protagonist- is a bit of a perverse male fantasy - she is beautiful, intelligent (when she needs to be) and undervalues herself terribly - so her loyalty to a husband deserving of much much less is a bit exasperating. She is married to a whining, opportunistic, bore named Fred, and becomes romantically attracted to the charming Commander Gordon. The story boils down to this: Emly and Fred lead a life which causes Fred to whine (but this, it becomes clear later, is genetic and part of the fiber of his being).

One night, they receive an early inheritance and decide to take a cruise around world and live the good life. Fred, however, remains the miserable lout he was at the beginning, but adds to his follies alcoholism, philandering, and seasickness. Money does not cure everything - a bit of cliché, but, with Rich and Strange, it doesn't end there.

All of the acting is quite good, though as some have noted, it is sometimes over-the-top (perfectly appropriate for a comedy, IMO).

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