07 November 2008

Hitchcock | The Ring (1927)

The Ring (1927)
written by Alfred Hitchcock and an uncredited Alma Reville

A fresh start for Hitchcock. This is his first film for British International Pictures, his first time writing and directing an original script and there are no carryover actors from previous films. There were also no instant marriages in the film. Hallelujah!

There is, however, a love triangle driving the story, so we're not completely free of the melodrama. Luckily, for me anyway, it's embedded in a tale of the world of 1920s English boxing in both the professional realm and in a carnival. Neat. I like seeing glimpses of societies completely new to me. And, for the love triangle, it wasn't as dopey as the triangles in prior movies. Bob, the man trying to move in on Jack's girl, isn't a completely unlikable villain. He actually seems like a pretty good guy, except, you know, for the adultery.

Hitchcock enjoyed his punning on the film's title. There are rings and circles all over the place, starting with the very first shot of a round drum being beaten (which cuts to a spinning carnival ride). Most importantly, other than the boxing rings, are the wedding ring Jack gives The Girl and the snake bracelet Bob gives The Girl. A snake on the sinning lady, huh? Not terribly subtle there, Hitch.

At the end, when The Girl throws her hat into Jack's ring -- cough -- she removes the bracelet and tosses it aside. Symbolically, I suppose, we're to assume that she's throwing away that aspect of her life; that she'll be true to Jack from now on. I dunno, Jack. I might keep an eye on her. I'm betting the second you're dethroned from the heavy weight title, you may find yourself alone on Saturday nights again.

Hitchcock also has a lot of fun with a bunch of mirror shots. You can read a lot into these shots --The Girl is leading a double life with two boyfriends, the carnival boxing versus pro boxing, the wedding ring compared to the snake bracelet -- which can be fun. But I think a lot of it was Hitchcock just trying out visually interesting compositions. He's still stretching his wings at this point and there's a lot of experimenting to do before he figures this movie thing out.

Much more entertaining than the tedious Japanese ghost story movie with the same name. (6/10)

Watched the region 1 DVD released by Lionsgate in 2007 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock: 3-Disc Collector's Edition. The print could use a good digital clean-up like The Lodger got; there are scratches and dust everywhere, particully near the beginning and ends of reels. Way better than the public domain DVD releases, though.