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Juno and the Paycock Reviews

A smash success as a stage play, JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK did not translate well to film, even under the sure hand of master filmmaker Hitchcock. This was Hitchcock's second sound film, after MURDER (1930), but he could do little with it other than film the stage play by the venerable O'Casey. It's a poignant story about a lower class family that expects to inherit what is for it a great fortune. Some of the family members lose their heads completely in blue-skying a fortune that never comes, and others remain level-headed and fatalistic. And there's much tragedy here, more than happiness or mirth. The daughter is about to give birth to an illegitimate child, and the son is shot as an informer during the Dublin uprising. Allgood does a commendable if stoic job as the resolute mother, but Chapman is much too flamboyant as the Paycock, mugging his way through a role that requires as much introspection as exaggeration. Though well photographed, the action is incredibly slow for Hitchcock. He does make the most of that novelty of the era, sound, adding, whenever possible, squeaking floorboards, stomping feet, the noises of Irish tenement life which he captures well. Hitchcock was always uncomfortable with any theatrical productions not created by himself and his own hand-picked writers, and this film was no exception, although he would later experiment with theatrical techniques in such films as UNDER CAPRICORN and ROPE. Hitchcock later stated that he used O'Casey as a role model for the man in the cafe who announces the end of the world in his terrifying film THE BIRDS.