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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Juno And The Paycock (1930)

Set in Dublin during the Irish Civil War, a family lives in near poverty as Juno (Sara Allgood recreating her stage role with the Abbey Theatre) must contend with a shiftless husband (Edward Chapman, the paycock of the title) who avoids employment to spend time in the local pub and an embittered son (John Laurie) whose arm has been permanently damaged during the war for Irish independence. There's also a daughter (Kathleen O'Regan). When the family receives a large inheritance it seems their troubles are over but what follows is the stuff of Greek tragedy. The pairing of the great Irish playwright Sean O'Casey and director Alfred Hitchcock seems an odd match. Hitchcock doesn't use any of his cinematic tricks and technique but rather seems content to let the static camera merely film the proceedings. This makes the film's first half a bit of a chore to sit through with all the Irish folksiness and the brogues so thick, you need subtitles. But the second half is powerful enough to sustain itself. With Barry Fitzgerald, who played the husband in the original 1924 production, as The Orator.

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