17 February 2007 | ajbakeresq
Fascinating early sound film
Having been a Hitchcock fan for forty years I have not been able to see this until now, thanks to a very cheap and poor quality DVD.
This straightforward fill of Sean O'Casey's play turns out to be a powerful piece of admittedly primitive early film-making. This is from a time when sound editing was impossible - scenes had to be taken in long takes with four cameras and cut ins added in - very much like studio TV.
I am shocked that one reviewer refers to bad photography with heads cut off. That's the bad transfer on the disc which cuts quite a lot of the image, often cutting of heads. If we could see a good print this would be powerful stuff with, surprisingly, a lot of very strong Hitchcock moments - including a ma in atrench coat waiting in the street - to execute JOhnny who was betrayed his republican group. It's also an extraordinarily authentic picture of an intensely catholic world. Ireland is still suffering from internal fighting but the is celebrating independence - but at the same time these people suffer from extreme judgemental attitudes. The rejection of the pregnant daughter by her previous boyfriend is simple and chilling.
We desperately need restorations of Hitchcock's pre 1934 films. The silents are excellent when you see them pristine. The copies in circulation are only hints of what they are really like. In its way a key work in Hitchcock's oeuvre. He may have dismissed it in the TRuffaut interviews, but take that with a pinch of salt. He avoids any mention of Fritz Lang influence too - and yet if you see Spione, M, or the Mabuse films you see how much he owed to Lang.