Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Me or I

Sir John Menier (Herbert Marshall) speaking, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder! (1930):

“No, no, no, that’s me — or is it I ? You know, Markham, I never know.”
I’ve been told that even British audiences have difficulty understanding the dialogue in early Hitchcock films, and I believe it. Some of Murder!, at least in the print we watched, was unintelligible. The Spanish subtitles (no English ones on our DVD) were sometimes helpful, though they left at least one important bit of dialogue untranslated. I think the translator must have given up.

Murder! is well worth seeing, if only to see how much of “Hitchcock” is there early on: the layman pressed into the work of a detective (as in The 39 Steps and many other films), the use of theatrical settings (as in that film and Stage Fright ), the wonderful bits of throwaway dialogue. (See above.) And there’s an eerie moment on a trapeze that made me think of the staircase scene in Psycho.

The cheap videotape-transfer Laserlight DVD that we watched (borrowed from the library) runs about 92 minutes. YouTube has a print that runs about five minutes longer, with a scene that’s missing from the Laserlight disc. (In this scene, a young girl exclaims, “He’s got my pussy!” — meaning cat. Was the scene censored?) The IMDb listing for the film has running times of 92, 100, and 104 minutes. Your guess is as good as mine, or maybe better.

[On the flying trapeze. Esme Percy as Handel Fane.]

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