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Rare Hitchcocks Rediscovered
Those who wondered what Alfred Hitchcock did before Psycho (or North by Northwest. Vertigo and Strangers on a Train. for that matter) will be happy to learn that Hollywood Select has released 17 of his earliest films, some never before available on video. Among the treasures are a film – the director called "the first true Hitchcock picture"- The Lodger, a 1926 silent about Jack the Ripper-as well as some atypical entries. The Ring (1927) is a story of two prizefighters in love with the same woman. Champagne (1928) is a romantic melodrama which Hitchcock claimed was "the lowest ebb of my output." The Manxman (1928), his last silent picture, concerns a poor fisherman, a lawyer and the woman they both love. There's also Juno and the Paycock (1930), based on the Sean 'Casey play; Waltzes from Vienna (1933). a biography of Johann Strauss, which Hitchcock described as "a musical without music made very cheaply," and Rich and Strange (1932), perhaps the most fascinating of the bunch. The dialogue and characterizations in this tale of a middle-class couple traveling abroad are from the stone age of cinema, but the innovative cutting and other effects mark Hitchcock's early genius.
To call these titles rare is an understatement. Prior to this release, many existed only in film libraries or in private collections. According to Conrad Sprout, the president of Hollywood Select, there are just two copies of Juno in this country. He had to send a messenger. to England to obtain a copy of Waltzes. "I know where to find them," he says, "because I'm a movie buff and a collector myself."
VIDEO, October 1988