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Rich and Strange

1931. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

I read in Peter Bogdanovich's interview with Alfred Hitchcock the following description of the 1931 film Rich and Strange, which is about a young couple taking a trip around the world and having many adventures:

"There was an amusing sequence at the end. Their cargo ship is wrecked and abandoned in the South China Sea, and they are rescued by some looters on a Chinese junk. Then, after it's all over, they meet me in the lounge. This is my most devastating appearance in a picture. They tell me their story and I say, 'No, I don't think it'll make a movie.'"

Well, this sounded exciting! Turns out, though, that this sequence isn't in the print that I just saw, nor probably any others in circulation, since I'm sure we would have heard about it from one of the critics who find great significance in how Hitchcock make his expected appearances.

The Rich and Strange case (even if Hitchcock never filmed it, but only played with the idea) shows what those brief cameos are mere relics of--a full-fledged authorial personality intruding itself into the narrative. Hitchcock is like a Victorian novelist, having fun with the ironic distance between himself and his characters' actions, aware of his godlike control over the lives of his creations.

What a shame this sequence is lost! It would have been fun to see the movie we just watched disappear before our eyes, as its maker declares it unworthy of being made. I like how Hitchcock calls it his most "devastating" appearance.

Anybody got more information on this film, or care to must on the general significance of Hitchcock's cameos? Just a joke, or a hint at his m.o.?



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copyright ©2005 Barbara Bernstein