Saturday, August 14, 2010

Juno and the Paycock

Title: Juno and the Paycock
Year: 1930
Studio: British International Pictures Ltd
Screenplay: Alfred Hitchcock and Alma Reville
Source Material: Play by Sean O'Casey
Running Time: 94 minutes
A black & White picture.

Saturday 14th August, 8:30am
Originally, I had planned to have a screening on Hitch's birthday (yesterday) but I was a little tired after work and decided to stick to my normal plan of continuing my project during daylight hours. Thank goodness I did. I wouldn't have liked to sully Alfred's birthday with a mood created by the tedium of this film.
Over the past few months, it has occurred to me that it is an awful lot of effort transcribing the majority of the plot onto paper - pausing the DVD repeatedly and scribbling down each major point - just to type it up for (I'm guessing) no one to read, so I have decided to be much more brief with my story synopsis - it'll make it easier for me and also easier for any viewers of this blog (if any).

Captain John "Jack" Boyle - Edward Chapman
Mrs "Juno" Boyle - Sara Allgood
Johnny Boyle - John Laurie
Mary Boyle - Kathleen O'Regan
"Joxer Daly" - Sidney Morgan
Charles Bentham - John Longden
Mrs. Madigan - Maire O'Neil
Jerry Devine - Dave Morris

Jack Boyle and his friend Joxer return to the Boyle's home after a round at the pub and are greeted unexpectedly by Juno Boyle who gives them both an earful.
The Boyles have two children, Johnny, a man who lost his arm in the fight for Ireland and Mary, their daughter.
Jack is the sort of man who will avoid work at all costs but has a high and mighty air about him.
Their daughter turns up with a young solicitor, Charles Bentham, who announces that the Boyles are going to come into some money, thanks to a recent will.
This comes as great news to the family, but Johnny is dubious and a little resentful.
Mr and Mrs Doyle spend the money in advance by purchasing various pieces of furniture on credit and have a bit of a soiree around at their home where they all drink and have a jolly good sing-a-long.
Later, it is determined that there is a loop-hole in the legalities of the will and Charles makes a dash for it to England, leaving behind a pregnant and unmarried Mary.
Juno is appalled at these pieces of news. Bailiffs come and take away their furniture, leaving her with an empty home. Her son, Johnny, is taken away and shot for being a traitor to the republicans and everything they had is lost.
Cheery, eh?
(You can see why I couldn't be bothered writing this one up - life is too short!)

Great Lines
Juno gets some good lines, but my favourites were directed toward her husband as he feigns pains to escape further work:

"You can't climb a ladder, no, but you can skip like a goat into a bar..."
"...don't be acting like you couldn't pull the wing off a dead bee."

Oh, this film could have been so much shorter were it not for the curse of that bloomin' blarney stone.
There are some people whose hearts are warmed by the shenanigans of the grubby (often in an appallingly patronising way), but I am not one of those. I always want to fast-forward the scenes in My Fair Lady featuring Alfred Doolittle as I come over all 'Margo Leadbetter' and feel like putting down newspaper to protect the carpets. The same feeling came when I was watching Captain Jack Doyle parade about his home in a slovenly manner. Poor Juno, she should kick him out - the dirty bludger.
The party segment where they all sing songs is dreadfully tedious and does not progress the plot in any form at all.
The final performance from Sara Allgood is the most powerful thing in the film as she bemoans her lot and the juxtaposition of the sound of gunfire as Johnny gets shot over the image of a candle going out before a statue of Mary and Jesus is rather splendid.
I expect it is just the poor DVD edition I own, but the majority of the film is hard to watch as the tops of everyone's heads are cut off for long periods whenever they are stood up. *harrumph*

My Verdict
All the way through, I found myself thinking "I'd much rather I was watching the play!" I think the story and the dialogue have a place rooted firmly on 'the boards' and it just felt so incongruous and almost trivial on-screen.

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