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A few words about…™ Rich and Strange – in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Rich and Strange, a 1931 Hitchcock film, is oriented toward Hitchcock completists.

It's not a great, or important film.

Still an early talkie by UK standards, with lots of non-sync silent footage running at undercrank, along with specific dialogue passages - all stilted of the age.

As a disc, presumably from a BFI restoration, the film is a beauty. Rich blacks, a lovely grading, good grain. Everything in its place, with only a single sequence in which I noted any possible damage - which was probably a processing shading problem.

For those brave enough to go for it, you'll be rewarded with one lovely Hitchcockian bit, which I'll not reveal. For the first 70 or so minutes, the film is akin to a travelogue featuring a married couple and their adventures. From then on, things pick up, which means it's the final 13 minutes that may be of interest.

Kino is doing a service releasing these films, and I applaud them for it.

Here's the updated master list of UK Hitchcock films in domestic release, and again, steer clear of PD bargain bin discs, as they're illegal after 1926:

Below, is a list of legitimate domestic DVD and Blu-ray releases.

1925
The Pleasure Garden - Bavaria - public domain

1926
The Mountain Eagle - Gainsborough - Not known to survive

1927
When Boys Leave Home (Downhill) - Gainsborough - Criterion (Extra on Lodger)
Easy Virtue - Gainsborough
The Lodger - Gainsborough - Criterion (Blu-ray)
The Ring - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)

1928
The Farmer's Wife - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)
Champagne - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)

1929
Blackmail - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)
The Manxman - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)
Juno and the Paycock - BIP

1930
Murder - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)

1931
The Skin Game - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)
East of Shanghai (Rich and Strange) - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)

1932
Number 17 - BIP - Kino (Blu-ray)

1934
The Man Who Knew Too Much - Gaumont - Criterion (Blu-ray)
Strauss' Great Waltz - Gaumont

1935
The 39 Steps - Gaumont - Criterion (Blu-ray)

1936
Secret Agent - Gaumont -
Sabotage - Gaumont - MGM (DVD)

1937
Young and Innocent Gaumont - MGM (DVD)

1938
The Lady Vanishes - Gainsborough - Criterion (Blu-ray)

1939
Jamaica Inn - Renown - Cohen (Blu-ray)

Image – 4.25

Audio – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

RAH
 
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roxy1927

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vincent parisi
I saw it forever ago on PBS and liked it a lot. It seemed more like a romantic comedy than anything Hitchcockian.
Obviously due for a reevaluation and possibly a disappointment?
 

Dick

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Thanks so much, Robert, for your list consolidating Hitchcock's early work on Blu-ray. I will use this as a reference guide.
 
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Osato

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Years ago I saw a 3 person live play performance of The 39 Steps. It was a lot of fun and very entertaining too.

Many of these other early Hitchcock films I have not seen.
 

Nelson Au

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I just found this thread. I didn’t know about this title’s release! I did complete viewing of every Hitchcock title available on disc or streaming in 2019. So I saw this film for the very first time back then. I thought it had some cool parts to it. So I’ll be interested in seeing it again on this new disc. And yes, the list above is great to be able to check against to find all the titles in their best possible form on disc.
 

sbjork

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It does have an audio error on the disc that I missed the first time that I watched it. At 19:55, during a series of establishing shots on the ship after the title “Mediterranean,” a section of audio from an earlier scene at the train station is mixed in with the audio for this one. It’s obvious when you listen for it, but at first, the dialogue sounds like background chatter, with the train noises sounding like like steamship noises. The soundtrack is generally a bit harsh-sounding anyway, and most of the scenes like that without onscreen dialogue were shot silent with the sound added later, so it didn't leap out at me. (Doesn't help that I had never seen the movie before.) But once you hear it, you can't unhear it.
 

Pat McFadden

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It does have an audio error on the disc that I missed the first time that I watched it. At 19:55, during a series of establishing shots on the ship after the title “Mediterranean,” a section of audio from an earlier scene at the train station is mixed in with the audio for this one. It’s obvious when you listen for it, but at first, the dialogue sounds like background chatter, with the train noises sounding like like steamship noises. The soundtrack is generally a bit harsh-sounding anyway, and most of the scenes like that without onscreen dialogue were shot silent with the sound added later, so it didn't leap out at me. (Doesn't help that I had never seen the movie before.) But once you hear it, you can't unhear it.
The audio error that sbjork mentions was actually not originally made by Kino. In 2007, "The Early Hitchcock Collection" DVD set was released in the UK by Studio Canal. Several early talkies were given controversially unnecessary Foley and efx. But for RICH AND STRANGE, additional music was also added in some scenes, actually *replacing music that had been scored for the film!* This had me angry at the time, now I'm furious because apparently Kino inherited the same audio track and used it unchanged. We can't really blame them for the unwanted Foley and music, since one needs to know the film extremely well to know there've been changes. But - Kino has no excuse for not noticing that one scene has overlapping dialogue from an earlier scene - in this case just minutes earlier. The VIDEO is indeed excellent on this blu-ray, but Kino (their decision this time?) gave the film a 1:20-1 aspect ratio, supposedly to replicate the framing of early talkies which needed more room for an optical track - but ruining the 1:33 ratio Hitchcock framed for, by cutting off some of the right side of the image. A Hitchcock author friend of mine wrote to Kino about the audio overlap. Their attitude responding was that since their Q-C people didn't notice it, and few have complained, they will not be making corrected replacements available. Bottom Line - those who have never seen the film might only notice the blatant sound overlapping error, but can still enjoy and appreciate the film, which now has the best picture the film has ever had on home video, albeit framed improperly. But the Hitchcock community are angry that the director's picture and audio have been tampered with, and there's little hope this will ever be corrected.
 

Robert Harris

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The audio error that sbjork mentions was actually not originally made by Kino. In 2007, "The Early Hitchcock Collection" DVD set was released in the UK by Studio Canal. Several early talkies were given controversially unnecessary Foley and efx. But for RICH AND STRANGE, additional music was also added in some scenes, actually *replacing music that had been scored for the film!* This had me angry at the time, now I'm furious because apparently Kino inherited the same audio track and used it unchanged. We can't really blame them for the unwanted Foley and music, since one needs to know the film extremely well to know there've been changes. But - Kino has no excuse for not noticing that one scene has overlapping dialogue from an earlier scene - in this case just minutes earlier. The VIDEO is indeed excellent on this blu-ray, but Kino (their decision this time?) gave the film a 1:20-1 aspect ratio, supposedly to replicate the framing of early talkies which needed more room for an optical track - but ruining the 1:33 ratio Hitchcock framed for, by cutting off some of the right side of the image. A Hitchcock author friend of mine wrote to Kino about the audio overlap. Their attitude responding was that since their Q-C people didn't notice it, and few have complained, they will not be making corrected replacements available. Bottom Line - those who have never seen the film might only notice the blatant sound overlapping error, but can still enjoy and appreciate the film, which now has the best picture the film has ever had on home video, albeit framed improperly. But the Hitchcock community are angry that the director's picture and audio have been tampered with, and there's little hope this will ever be corrected.
I don't believe we can place any blame on Kino, as someone would have to know the film in detail to catch the error. QC is generally performed by other entities, and no one is going to find this.

You obviously know the film very well! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
 

sbjork

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Stephen
The audio error that sbjork mentions was actually not originally made by Kino. In 2007, "The Early Hitchcock Collection" DVD set was released in the UK by Studio Canal. Several early talkies were given controversially unnecessary Foley and efx. But for RICH AND STRANGE, additional music was also added in some scenes, actually *replacing music that had been scored for the film!* This had me angry at the time, now I'm furious because apparently Kino inherited the same audio track and used it unchanged. We can't really blame them for the unwanted Foley and music, since one needs to know the film extremely well to know there've been changes. But - Kino has no excuse for not noticing that one scene has overlapping dialogue from an earlier scene - in this case just minutes earlier. The VIDEO is indeed excellent on this blu-ray, but Kino (their decision this time?) gave the film a 1:20-1 aspect ratio, supposedly to replicate the framing of early talkies which needed more room for an optical track - but ruining the 1:33 ratio Hitchcock framed for, by cutting off some of the right side of the image. A Hitchcock author friend of mine wrote to Kino about the audio overlap. Their attitude responding was that since their Q-C people didn't notice it, and few have complained, they will not be making corrected replacements available. Bottom Line - those who have never seen the film might only notice the blatant sound overlapping error, but can still enjoy and appreciate the film, which now has the best picture the film has ever had on home video, albeit framed improperly. But the Hitchcock community are angry that the director's picture and audio have been tampered with, and there's little hope this will ever be corrected.
It's funny, because since I hadn't seen the movie before, I interpreted the sound of the steam engine of the train as being bad sound effects for the steam engine on the ship. It's clearly not when you really listen for it, but since it occurs during an establishing series of shots with none of the main actors, it's not something that most people would pay close attention to.

But no, it doesn't ruin the experience of watching the film. If you know it's there, it takes you out of things for a second, but then it passes.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I’ve got the review copy in hand and will be exploring it more in depth in the coming days. I will keep an eye out for the issues indicated here. I will say my first impression was generally a very positive one.
 

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