Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Ring

Title: The Ring
Year: 1927
Studio: British International Pictures Ltd
Original Screenplay: Alfred Hitchcock (and Alma Reville)
Running Time: 85 minutes
A Silent Picture in Black & White

Saturday 19th June, 9:30am
Well, I say 9:30, but this film was viewed sporadically throughout the day. This happened because of two reasons.
1) I was feeling awfully tired and had to take a couple of breaks (and naps)
2) It's a film about boxing.

I woke up with every intention of getting myself organised. Having awoken at 7:30 (that's a lie-in for me!) I made myself some breakfast, answered some emails and made sure the cat was fed and happy.
By 9:30, I was all comfy on the settee with my dressing gown on and I began my viewing.
A mere 30 minutes into the movie, I had to take a break as I was feeling a little exhausted. SO I pottered about, did some laundry... to be honest, I don't know what I did - anything to procrastinate! I got back into it at about 11:30, but another half an hour later, I felt the urge for an early lunch. I had some tomato soup and watched an episode of The Golden Girls. Then, I had to have a nap.
I awoke again at 4:30 and finished the final third of the film. Knowing I was going to be heading out for dinner with friends, I abandoned my goal of writing up my notes and left it until Sunday morning - so here I am.

"One Round" Jack Sander - Carl Brisson
Mabel - Lillian Hall Davis
Bob Corby - Ian Hunter
The Promoter - Forrester Harvey
The Showman - Harry Terry
Jack's Trainer - Gorden Harker

Once again, Hitchcock opens a silent film with a tremendous amount of noise. Drums bang, mouths chatter, guns fire in a coconut shy.
The fair ground is buzzing with activity; lots of people having fun. At one booth, a showman is rallying crowds to come and see some boxing matches. A young girl, Mabel, is selling the tickets. One of the champs is Jack "One Round" Sander whose name says it all.
Mabel sees a potential competitor - Bob Corby - in the crowd and beckons him over. He accepts the challenge. During the fight, Bob proves himself worthy and wins - not until the fourth round, mind you, and not before the showman has rallied more crowds to see this amazing defeat.
Bob takes his winnings and on the way out, stops to talk to Mabel.

Bob: "We heard he was good and now we know!"
Mabel: We were hoping to get married, and now you've probably lost him his job!"

The man Bob is with writes a note on the back of his business card. His note reads:

Don't fix any other job until I have seen you tonight."

Mabel turns it over and reads the front:

JAMES WARE. MANAGER TO BOB CORBY - Heavyweight Champion of Australia

Mabel is a little starstruck by Bob and he bids her farewell, for now.
That night, Mabel is tending Jack's wounds in the tent when Bob and James turn up. Mabel introduces them to Jack.
James and Jack go off to talk business and Bob takes Mabel for a walk outside.
Bob presents Mabel with a bracelet.

A present for you from the money I won.

The two potential lovebirds are being watched by a fortune teller in her caravan.
Meanwhile, James and Jack are coming to an arrangement:

"...and if you win this trial fight you can be Bob's sparring partner."

Jack likes the proposition and they shake on it - the handshake fades into Bob holding Mabel's arm as he puts the bracelet onto it.
When Jack comes to tell Mabel his news, she surreptitiously hides the bracelet from him.

Mabel goes to speak to the fortune teller and asks what time will bring her. The gypsy, with her knowledge and prior snooping, tells Mabel what she wants to hear.

The next day, Jack is outside his caravan, washing in the pond. Mabel comes to greet him and as she does, her bracelet falls off into the water. Jack retrieves it and she has to explain.

Mabel: "He bought me the bangle because he didn't like taking the money he won...
...So it was really you who gave it to me."

Jack takes the bracelet and places it, incongruously, over her wedding finger.

Jack: Then I give it to you for this... If I win the trial fight, we'll get married the day after!"

Later on, Mabel is back at her booth, fretting over the possible result of the trial fight. Eventually a telegram is delivered. It reads:

Have Won. Shall see you at church tomorrow morning as arranged, Jack.

The wedding is a colourful affair with a variety of odd guests including a pair of Siamese twins, a very tall man and a very small man. After a few comical moments involving the best man (Jack's trainer) and the ring, the wedding is over and a reception is held.
Bob makes a brief speech, touching a raw nerve:

Bob: I think the prize at the booth should have been this charming bride. Anyway, now he's my sparring partner I shall take my revenge."

Jack responds:
I shall always be ready to fight for my wife against any man.

Another day, at the gym, Jack and Bob are training. Mabel goes to chat to Bob and another woman asks her to introduce her to Mabel's husband - indicating Bob. Jack isn't pleased. he takes his frustration out on the punch bag, imagining Bob's face upon it.

Later, at Jack and Mabel's apartment, a wild party is in session with music and flapper girls dancing madly. In a quieter anteroom, James and Jack are discussing things.

Jack: It seems as though I shall have to fight for my wife after all.

James points out Jack's low-billing on a poster and says he has a way to go until he reaches the heights of Bob - implying that is what is needed to woo the women.
Eventually, the party dissipates and only Mabel is left. She's at the piano, playing a melancholy tune. When Jack goes over, he sees she has a framed picture of Bob in front of her.

After another successful fight, Jack and his entourage return to his apartment hoping to celebrate the good news with Mabel - She isn't home. Jack pours everyone champagne with the intention of drinking it upon her return. Time passes and the champagne begins to go flat. The boys realise they ought to leave and do so, leaving Jack to feel sorry for himself. Eventually, Mabel returns after a night out on the town with Bob. Jack flares up and throws Bob's picture across the room, smashing the champagne glasses. He rips Mabel's dress and tears her bracelet from her arm. She flees into her room.
He leaves the apartment after depositing the bracelet on the occasional table in the hallway. He is off to find Bob.

At the local club, he finds Bob with James. Bob attempts to be civil and offers Jack some champagne - Jack simply tips it out onto the floor. Insulter, Bob tips the table aside as a challenge - Jack simply punches him hard in the face, knocking him back. Jack tells James, who is in shock; He can try and reverse it in the ring if he likes!
Jack returns to the flat. The bracelet is gone and there's a note form Mabel on the mantelpiece.

I have gone to people who know how to treat me properly.

It's the night of the big fight at the Royal Albert Hall between Jack and Bob. Mabel turns up and sits in the front row.
Theirs is the fourth contest of the day and obviously the biggest spectacle of them all - everyone applauds when teh two fighters arrive at their corners.
Initially, the fight does not look good for Jack - he is distracted when he sees Mabel in the crowd and Bob catches him off guard. By round three, Jack is struggling.
In the break between rounds, Mabel - utterly distraught at witnessing his pummeling, makes her decision between the two men - she approaches Jack and whispers;

"Jack... I'm with you... in your corner."

This is all he needs. He strides into round floor and finally knocks Bob out cold.
Jack wins the fight and she removes the bracelet from her arm.

Afterward, in the dressing room, one of the crew hand the bracelet to Bob in his dressing room, saying he found it at the ring-side.
Bob looks at it and tosses it back to the man. He has lost more than just the fight.

The End

(not so) Great Lines
One would have imagined, knowing Hitch's wonderfully dark humour, that there would be more classy or bitchy lines within the script, but there are none to really shout about. Only one stands out, mainly because it feels so shockingly appalling due to its racist tones.

James: If you win this next fight with the nigger, you'll be in the running for the championship.

We have to look at this with a contemporary and contextual eye, but it still smarts.

Rather surprisingly, Hitch was a bit of a boxing fan and would attend a number of matches in his spare time.
This was Hitch's only screenplay (although written alongside his wife, Alma Reville, who was uncredited. Shame!) and without implying any disrespect to the great man, I am quite pleased he stuck to directing from here on in.

I have to admit, I was taken aback by the oddly embarrassing stall at the fair ground in which a black man sits on a dunking stool whilst white-folk attempt to knock him off - even when a couple of children throw eggs at his face, a policeman merely laughs at their antics - thank heavens we've come on a long way since then!

The boxing scenes are well shot, even if I do find them a little tedious.
Interestingly, the lead actor, Carl Brisson, was a professional boxer already, so there was little training for him to do. The scene where he knocks out Ian Hunter is rather realistic mainly because it was absolutely real!

The best thing about this film is the number of clever Hitchcock touches. His clever use of overlays, the way he gives the impression of time passing, the use of reflected surfaces (mirrors and water) for point of view shots... all these are beautifully arranged to lift the film from the ordinary to a higher level.

My Verdict
OK, so I am a little biased as I find films about sport incredibly tedious. Saying that, I would have hoped that the love triangle plot would make up for the drearier side, but it felt so unconvincing, especially the sudden turn-around for Mabel at the end. Fickle bitch! The only character I felt anything for was Jack, but that's probably due to his devilish good looks. Although it has many nice touches, it is not one of Hitchcock's best (although other critics would tell you otherwise).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Easy Virtue

Title: Easy Virtue
Year: 1927
Studio: Gainsborough
Screenplay: Eliot Stannard
Source Material: The play by Noel Coward
Running Time: 1 hour
A Silent Picture in Black & White

Thursday 10th June, 2:00pm
Today, I should have been at work, but my innards were having other plans. I left work around lunchtime on Wednesday after feeling rather ill. I was shaky, dizzy and my bowels were auditioning for the role of cymbals in the 1812 overture.
This morning, I had every intention of heading back to work. I caught the train at 6:20 and got off to change at Richmond station. Whilst waiting for the train to Camberwell, I sat on the cold metal bench under the dark skies and I pondered the truth of the situation. I was still feeling queasy and although I had an appointment with one of my customers and a meeting to attend, I knew that the world would keep on running without me - my job simply isn't that important that my health should take a backseat. I let my train arrive and depart without me boarding and I wandered back to platform 2 and awaited the Sandringham train to take me home.
After visiting the doctor in the morning (yes, it is merely a viral thing, blah blah) I returned to my abode and decided to continue with my Hitchcock project. I began at 2:00 but I became awash with tiredness half an hour later, so I returned to the bed, mid-viewing, and my cat, Fizzgig, accompanied me - she even got under the covers for a snuggle. I awoke an hour later and resumed the film...

Larita Filton - Isabel Jeans
Her Husband - Franklin Dyall
Mr Claude Robson - Eric Bransby Williams
Plaintiffs Counsel - Ian Hunter
John Whittaker - Robin Irvine
John's Mother - Violet Farebrother
John's Father - Frank Elliott
John's Elder Sister - Dacia Deane
John's Younger Sister - Dorothy Boyd
Sarah - Enid Stamp-Taylor

Virtue is its own reward they say - - but Easy virtue is society's reward for a slandered reputation
We begin in court, a judge is presiding over a divorce court and over the first few scenes we learn about the case in a number of flashbacks.
Larita is married to a drunken brute who is overtly possessive. Larita has been posing for an artist by the name of Claude Robson. The husband is jealous and Claude wants to save Larita from the abusive marriage.
After one session with the artist, the husband returns home. He is furious when he finds Larita and Claude in an embrace, albeit an innocent one on Larita's part.
The husband attacks Claude, beating him with his cane. Claude has reached for a gun, he shoots. Larita's husband collapses. The housekeeper screams and runs for the police. In a panic, Claude kills himself. However, the husband is merely wounded and survives.

Back in court, the jury have to come to their conclusion. It has been noted that Claude had also left Larita a lot of money in his will.
The jury reach their verdict:
We find Larita Filton guilty of misconduct with the late Claude Robson."
The court clears and Larita is thrown to the wolves of the press who refer to her as the notorious Mrs Filton.

Reporters - photographers - publicity... Larita fought to forget them all on the tolerant shores of the Mediterranean.

At a hotel in the South of France, she signs in as Larita Grey as her infamy has followed her. She tries to remain incognito and lies low. Whilst watching a tennis match, a ball strikes her on the face and one of the players rushes to her aid. It's a young man named John Whittaker. He takes her to his room where he prepares cocktails for her on the balcony and a nurse attends to Larita's eye.
He woos her with flowers and they take romantic rides in horse-drawn carriages.

Larita found something reassuring in John's devotion... it was like a cool breeze sweeping away the ugly memories of the past.

He proposes to her and she won't give her answer straight away. In a beautiful moment, we learn of her answer through the eyes of a telephone receptionist who puts the call through and listens in. We see her face go from curiosity via devoted interest, through shock and eventually to romance.

The two marry off-screen, we are only alerted by a luggage label denoting her new surname. We then follow their luggage home via carriage, boat (with a very odd moment featuring a poodle and then a bulldog - I don't get this at all!), train and finally by car. The two lovers travel across the moors and eventually arrive at the Moat House in Peveril, England.
John's family are initially welcoming, but his mother is cold and suspicious. She has invited a young girl named Sarah to the dinner. She is an old flame of John's and a favourite of his mother's. She knew full well that Larita would be attending, so she's just playing the manipulative matriarch to her best ability. Sarah is the epitome of kindness and politeness, accepting John and his new bride with open arms.
Mother is positive Larita is keeping secrets from them. She is sure she has seen her somewhere before.

During the days that followed, Mrs Whittaker made Larita's life a burden to her - in private... But she was all smiles and sweetness with her - in public.

A few days later, at a polo match at which many people from far and wide attend, Larita spies someone from her past (I struggle to figure out exactly who he is, to be honest) and she fears she will be exposed.

John's mother and sister are then writing invitations to a dance party at their home for the 22nd June, 1926. Larita offers to help, but mother declines the offer.

Some friends of John turn up to play tennis. Larita sulks in the drawing room and spies a camera on a shelf. This reminds her of the invasive nature of the press and hurls a book at it.
That night, she has nightmares. She explains to John that she hates being in that house and that the family hate her. He storms off.

So Larita remained - and suffered.

The day of the dance, Larita is in the garden reading and she overhears Sarah and John talking.

Sarah: John - - you're neglecting Larita - and it's not fair to her.
John: It's been a terrible mistake... Mother made me see that.
Sarah: If only you'd realised - before it was too late!

Later, John's younger sister discovers a newspaper article which features Larita in photos and refers to her past surname. She shows it to mother and it suddenly dawns on her. She remembers the divorce case.

She confronts Larita along with the family. the father is not sure why anyone should care or make a fuss. When John discovers, he is confused and angry - but with whom? Larita for lying or his mother for interfering?
John's mother then goes on a tirade against Larita and she tries to stick up for herself.

Mother: In our world we do not understand this code of easy virtue.
Larita: In your world you understand very little of anything, Mrs Whittaker.

In the hall, John's father tries to console Larita.
That night, Larita is upstairs as all the guests arrive. John's mother tells everyone that her daughter-in-law shall not be attending as she has a headache.
Larita will not be kept prisoner in her room and dresses beautifully (and provocatively) and descends the stairs, humiliating John's mother at the same time.
She makes the decision to leave that night after the party and files for divorce.
All this to make everyone else happy but herself.

Back in the courtrooms, the case is concluded quickly and Larita steps out to await her trail by press...

The End

Great Lines
The superb comeback from Larita after John's mother has been abusing her verbally; "Now that you have quite exhausted your venom, I shall go to my room." - nonchalant and classy!
Apparently, Hitch hated the final line, but I (and other critics, apparently) love it. "Shoot! There's nothing left to kill." True pathos, balancing humour and heartbreak in equal measure.

I have watched this film a couple of times and although it tells a very basic story, it loses a few things in translation from play to silent screen. Noel Coward's wonderful dialogue is obviously one of the major losses, but the body of the play and the pertinence of the reflections on snobbery in society are still at the fore.
The notion of a family being ridiculed for having a divorcee in their midst is all rather bemusing in our 21st Century world, but we have to look at the film in context. This was a time when so many things were taboo - not only in society but also in the movie industry.
In one clever move, a juror's notes are frequently viewed on screen so we don't simply rely on the dialogue cards to aid the plot.
The telephone receptionist scene is quite possibly the highlight of the movie. Sucha simple yet effective way of storytelling through mime.
Some of the editing is a bit disappointing and scenes jump too rapidly. The death of the artist happens so incredibly quickly, there isn't even a chance to blink and miss it - it simply happens - one moment he is looking at the gun. The next he is dead. Obviously too dramatic for the audience of the 1920s.
A handful of lovely touches from Hitch; the swinging of the eyeglass merging into the swinging of the pendulum denoting time passing, the initial framing of a scene through a tennis racket, the judge focusing in on characters through his eye glass, and the terrific shot early on of the husband's viewpoint - he sees the artist's back, the artist looks over his own left shoulder looking rather evil and Larita's innocent yet scared eyes peeking over the artist's right shoulder like a frightened animal.
Also worth mentioning is the book-ending of the court room scenes and, most notably, the shots of the judge's wig.

My Verdict
It's all rather depressing, really. Poor Larita.
Not the best of the early Hitchcock films, but not the worst. My advice is either see the play or the fantastic recent movie adaptation by Stephan Elliott starring Ben Barnes, Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth - it's a hoot!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Title: Downhill
Year: 1927
Studio: Gainsborough
Screenplay: Eliot Stannard
Source Material: A play by David L'Estrange
Running Time: 82 minutes
A Silent Picture in Black & White

Saturday 5th June, 8:00am
I awoke early this morning, but I had slept for nine and a half hours having gone to bed at 7:30 last night. The conference I had attended had obviously had more of an effect on me than I had realised. So, awaking bright and early, I thought I'd sort myself out. The day had a few chores lying ahead and I knew I must get a number of them done, but I didn't want to miss out on the latest Hitchcock update.
Did I mention previously what I had discovered on Google?
Well, I was asked by 'blogger' whether I wanted this blog 'searchable' on Google. I ticked the 'yes please, oh how I'd love to be stalked and know what it's like to be famous' box.
Once I had done that, I tried Googling myself.
It seems somebody has beaten me to it and also begun a blog of watching Hitchcock's films chronologically. Damn it!
Still, I am doing it for my own pleasure, really. So it doesn't really matter.
Anyway, on with the plot...

Roderick Berwick - Ivor Novello
Sir Thomas Berwick - Norman McKinnell
Lady Berwick - Lillian Braithwaite
Timothy Wakeley - Robin Irving
Rev. Henry Wakeley - Jerrold Robertshaw
Sybil Wakeley - Sybil Rhoda
Mabel - Annette Benson
Julia Fotheringale - Isabel Jeans
Archie - Ian Hunter
Madame Michet - Barbara Gott
'Poetess' - Violet Farebrother

Here is a tale of two school-boys who make a pact of loyalty. One of them kept it - at a price.

The World of Youth
We begin with a private school Rugby match. Roderick Berwick plays well for his team, 'The Old Boys'. Once off the pitch, we meet Timothy Wakeley, Roddy's room mate. His father, a Reverend, and his sister Sybil are attending and they take note of a sign stating the requirement of entries for scholarship to be handed into the bursar no later than February 22nd. Tim and his father are keen for Oxford University. Sybil wanders off and accidentally catches sight of the rugby boys in their changing rooms (shock, horror! and a Reverend's daughter, too!) Afterward, there's a huge dinner at the private school's dining room and families of the boys attend. One of the waitresses, Mabel, flirts with Tim and hands him a note:

Darling Boy, I'll be alone at the shop after six. Do come. Love, Mabel

Then, whilst the crowd are saying grace, Roddy stumbles in to the dining hall. Acknowledging the grace, he waits by the door and Mable cheekily plays footsie with him.
After dinner, both Tim and Roddy turn up at the shop Mabel works at; 'Ye Olde Bunne Shop'. It sells a variety of groceries and sweets. It's a quiet evening at the shop and Mabel invites the boys into the back room. She puts on a record called 'I Want Some Money' - a telling sign of her nature.
She dances with Roddy and then Tim, although he steps on her foot. A young boy comes into the shop and Roddy goes to assist. He accidentally charges the boy incorrectly. the boy then returns with his mates so they can all get 'bargains'. Feeling bad, he gives Mabel the money to make up the difference, proving his character. However, all sorts of shenanigans have been going on behind his back.
As the boys leave, Mabel highlights the sign on the door detailing the shop's closing times on Wednesday afternoon to Tim.

Later on, we witness a school assembly in which Roderick is announced as the new year captain. He is given a new cap with an 'honour' badge adorning it.

Later still, both Tim and Roddy are called to the headmaster's office. Mabel is there already, sitting quietly. She had brought a serious charge against one of the boys as she has fallen pregnant. She accuses Roddy, knowing full well that he comes from a wealthy background. The real culprit is Timothy, but from a meagre background of a Reverend's son and in need of scholarship, she feels she should be milking a richer cow.
Roddy is an honourable boy as his cap states. He takes the fall and is expelled. He makes a pact with Timothy to never tell the truth, He leaves and returns home. His mother is delighted to see him, but his father is suspicious. When Roddy explains, his father does not believe him, calls him a liar and Roddy leaves dramatically.

Roddy arrives in the centre of London and heads to the underground so he can escape his life and find a new one. We see him descend the escalator...

So the pact was kept - - at a price.

The World of Make Believe
The second act opens with, it seems, Roddy working as a waiter at a seaside resort. We see him pocket a pretty girl's cigarette case. Then we pull back to see he is actually on stage in a theatre as part of a chorus in a musical.
Later, he turns up at the star's dressing room. She is Julia Fotheringale, a beautiful blonde who loves the luxuries of life. He uses the cigarette case as a device to go and see her. She seems to enjoy his rather transparent attempts at wooing her. He is also being watched by her co-star, Archie, who also has designs on her. He sits in earshot the whole time and drinks alcohol. The three of them leave the theatre together in a taxi as it's pouring down with rain, but Roddy alights and catches the next bus home. Upon his return to his tiny abode, he discovers his God-mother has died and left him thirty thousand pounds.

He returns to the theatre the next day, looking rather dressed up to the nines. This impresses Julia a lot. If it were a cartoon, she'd have dollar signs in her eyes.
Archie basically concedes defeat but points out a pile of receipts and bills, highlighting her love of the finer things in life.

Roddy and Julia marry, and soon have their own beautiful apartment which, unwisely, Roddy has signed over to her. She has been spending like crazy and the bank account is now overdrawn by two hundred pounds. She has been having an affair with Archie who has continued to buy her expensive gifts. Roddy comes home and catches them and fights with Archie. He wins, but it is Julia who kicks Roddy out, leaving him penniless once more. He leaves the apartment and descends in the elevator...

The World of Lost Illusions
In Paris, Roddy has found himself as a dance gigolo in the ball rooms of the Moulin Rouge. His boss is Madame Michet and it is clear she has given him a helping hand as he still owes her some money. He dances with different girls for a small sum throughout the night. His despair is apparent in the wee small hours and a woman who is only described as a 'poetess' pays for the pleasure of his company - she does not dance, she merely talks to him and he tells his story. She pities him and she makes advances but he spurns them as he has sunk so low.
Suddenly, a man is choking, the staff try to help, some go to open the windows to let some fresh air in. Dawn is breaking and light splices through the seedy darkness, highlighting the pitiful displays of human behaviour around the room. The screen cap illustrates: Searching, relentless sunlight
He looks around the room like he's having an epiphany. Then he simply quits and walks out into the morning air.

Downhill - till what was left of him was thrown to the rats of a Marseilles dockside.
The finale. Roddy has succumbed to a dark place. He inhabits a dingy, squalid room along with a young black man, an older whit man and a black 'Mame' (although, oddly, this is a white actress blacked up!)
These three dubious figures sit around smoking and drinking. They worry for their friend as he has become weak and feeble. They find in his wallet a letter to Timothy detailing his plans:

Dear Tim,
I am done for. If you ever get this it will mean that I'm dead and buried. But I want you to know that I've kept my promise. Roddy.

The three pity him and drag him away. They put him on a boat to England. Roddy is still delirious during the journey and sees visions of those who have betrayed him laughing and counting his money. He also has a vision of Tim and Mabel, seemingly happy and together at the Olde Bunne Shoppe.
Once back in England, he walks all the way back to London, driven purely by blind instinct. He hesitantly rings the bell of his family home. The butler answers, but barely recognises him. Once indoors, his parents return home. His father is shocked, but embraces him, telling him that he is forgiven and that he knows the whole truth and wants his son's pardon. The family hug and all is well again.
In a brief coda, we see Roddy doing what he loves most, playing rugby with the Old Boys.

Great Lines
There aren't that many 'classic' lines - most are simply to advance the plot and explain what's going on. However, I did like the following:
Madame Michet to client: "There is a nice English boy, very cheap at fifty francs a dance."
And the poetess to Roddy in the ball room; "You seem different, somehow - - among all this artificiality - "

The very opening shot of a referee blowing a whistle is Hitchcock playing with his dry sense of irony. A loud noise in a silent film.
He uses some beautiful shots in this film including some superb panning shots at the Moulin rouge, tracking shots following various characters paths and for one brief moment we see a technique which in the Twenty First Century is being used ubiquitously as if it was a brand new concept. I am sure you will have seen a film or TV show in which a character is walking in a daze. The camera is positioned in front of their face as they stare blankly ahead and we move with them, watching their background disappear behind them. Sure, it's used all the time these days, but when Roddy is staggering back home to London, we experience the same motion. It may not be as technically perfect as we are used to, but it certainly provides the same effect.
One rather risque piece of comedy comes when in Julia's dressing room. Archie is in the foreground whilst Roddy clumsily attempts to woo Julia. Archie, being a more mature man is not impressed. We see him spray soda from the soda fountain directly in front of our line of sight to Roddy and Julia, symbolising Roddy's youth and premature... well, I don't think you need me to spell it out for you.
The purposeful division of the film into four acts works well and reminds viewers of its theatrical origins. Also, the book-ending of the film with the two rugby matches are almost like symbolic curtains to the picture.
Hitch's use of montage work well here. Both for flashbacks and fantasy sequences. The rather creepy scenes Roddy witnesses whilst delirious on the boat are quite nightmarish in a very true sense. When he watches those who have hurt or betrayed him all seated together, counting the money that was rightfully his and their laughs of derision are the moments of paranoia we all may have experienced in our dreams.
The frequent visual references to a descent into hell are powered home by longer edits. The escalator heading down into the underground and the elevator leading down from his luxury apartment both linger a couple of seconds longer than one might expect, purely to illicit an uncomfortable sense of danger and depression.
I wonder if the large gates from which Roddy exits the Moulin Rouge ball rooms are symbolic of one of the gates of hell.
And, I'm sorry, but the 'poetess' who tries to extract his soul through discussion? SHE LOOKS LIKE A MAN!!

My Verdict
This is a film which had me confused in places and in awe in others. Some of the scenes are delicately played and evoke the emotions one is supposed to feel. However, there are some parts which feel a little confused. I have to admit to saying out loud on occasion "What's going on?" and it would take a few moments for the pieces to fall into place. This may have been deliberate, but I doubt that. The relationship between Julia and Archie was rather bizarre and I am still a bit unnerved by it. He looked like her dad!
The good outweighs the bad, but I would like to have seen what became of Timothy. Surely he should have got some retribution for his actions? 5/10