‘Rich And Strange’ Blu-Ray Review – Alfred Hitchcock Takes Rare Detour Into Straight Comedy In Early Tale

Rich and Strange, also known as East of Shanghai, is the splendid seafaring comedy from legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s early years in the British film industry. Fred Hill (Henry Kendall) and his wife Emily (Joan Barry) lead a boring existence in the London suburbs. When the Hills come into an inheritance from a wealthy uncle, Fred quits his mundane job and they embark on a world cruise to get a taste of the high life. But all does not go as planned as the couple’s voyage becomes fraught with treacherous romantic duplicities. Money does not buy happiness when Hitchcock steers the ship! A visually dazzling and slyly hilarious portrait of a marriage in crisis, Rich and Strange is a one-of-a-kind classic from the Master of Suspense!

For thoughts on Rich and Strange, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic here

Video Quality

Rich and Strange makes its Blu-Ray debut thanks to Kino Classics with a brand new 1080p master from a 4K restoration performed by StudioCanal. For a film that is over 90 years old, this is a truly spectacular presentation. The gorgeous black-and-white photography shines in high definition with natural grain intact. Black levels are very deep with no overwhelming occurrence of black crush or compression artifacts. The contrast is well defined, and the track experiences next to nothing in the way of flicker or other instability. There is a pleasing amount of detail present with nice textures on the clothing and within the production design. The new transfer shows off a great amount of depth and enhanced detail within the film’s composition. This presentation has been lovingly restored to eliminate pretty much all damage. Kino Classics, StudioCanal and the BFI have done some spectacular work here. 

Audio Quality

The Blu-Ray comes with a satisfactory DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that serves this movie really well considering its place in early sound recording. This track does present with a minor amount of age related wear and tear including some faint hissing and hollowness that likely date back to the source elements. Dialogue and background noises are represented in perfect harmony with all competing elements. The music from Adolph Hallis never overpowers the dialogue or other important information. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles included for the feature film. The good folks at Kino Classics have done their best to provide the most stable track possible for this one. 

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: Film Historian Troy Howarth delivers a great, informative commentary track in which he discusses the screenwriting credit of Hitchcock, where the director was at this point in his career, visual motifs that echo in his other features, the place of food in his films, Hitchcock playing in more overtly comedic territory,  the film’s history, the autobiographical nature of the story and more. 
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut – Icon Interviews Icon: A six-minute audio interview in which Hitchcock discusses the process of creating Rich and Strange including the development of the script, the aspects of his life that mirrored the script, the casting of the film, the poor reviews for the feature, his thoughts on the material and more. 
  • Introduction by Noel Simsolo: A nearly four-minute introduction from the film historian in which he discusses how Hitchcock came to make this film, the director’s response to the casting of this film, the underlying seriousness injected into one of his lightest films, the themes of the film and more. 
  • Trailers: A 54-second trailer is provided for Rich and Strange. There are also trailers provided for Blackmail, Murder!, Number Seventeen, The Paradine Case, Under Capricorn and Lifeboat

 

Final Thoughts

Rich and Strange is a unique entry into the career of Alfred Hitchcock since his work with comedy is usually complemented with something more macabre. It should not be unexpected that he elevates this from a lighter, throwaway effort into something a bit more engaging and worthy of exploration. Some of the performances are a little bit on the weaker side, but overall this is one of the more interesting efforts from his earliest work. Kino Lorber has released a Blu-Ray featuring a terrific A/V presentation and a couple of worthwhile special features. Even if this is a bit unlike his other work, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up if you are a Hitchcock fan. Recommended 

Rich and Strange is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.