Juno and the Paycock (1930, Alfred Hitchcock)

JunoandthePaycock

An occasional series where I review a randomly selected movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock…

Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

The Boyle family come into a large amount of money during the Irish Civil War, but does it make them happier?

Alfred Hitchcock once called Juno and the Paycock ‘a photographed stage play’ – and no other film he directed feels less cinematic. At times, as the am-dram cast drone on, you wonder whether he’s nodded off and forgotten to call cut. (Of course, this is unlikely for more than the obvious reason of professionalism: Hitchcock made the film expressly because he liked the play it’s based on so much.)

Set during the Irish Civil War of 1922-23, the story follows a family of meagre means headed by drunkard husband Captain Boyle (Edward Chapman). His wife, Juno (Sara Allgood), calls him a paycock – a pun on peacock because he poses but has little fight. The family also features invalid son Johnny (John Laurie, much later of Dad’s Army fame) and daughter Mary (Kathleen O’Regan), who’s on strike from her job.

There are money worries, failed romances, religious satire, a few songs, murder and a political edge thanks to the context of 1920s Ireland and the disagreement over how to form a new independent country. But nevertheless the drab, depressing substance combined with no discernible style in either the playing or the staging means that this film becomes very boring very quickly.

Three real Dublin people out of 10

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