The Skin Game marks Hitchcock’s 12th film meaning I have now been doing this challenge for 3 months. Which seems kind of weird at the moment because the time has passed really quickly.  But anyway on with the review…. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

The story of The Skin Game is really quite simple it is a story of upper class warfare between two gentleman both from opposite backgrounds fighting for their own beliefs. The first of the gentleman is Mr. Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn) he is a man who has earned his riches in the factory business and intends of turning the nice country village in which the film is set into a modern factory town. This is something which Mr Hillcrest (C.V France) greatly protests against as his family have lived in the town for generations and he is perfectly happy with the way things are. Thus ‘the Skin Game’ begins as they both vie to buy the local land and halt the others wishes. The tactics of the game steadily lose their decency and when Mr. Hillcrest uncovers some slanderous facts about Hornblower’s daughter-in-law a shocking ending is once in store. 

THE GOOD

The tension built up throughout the film is good with all the performances pretty much spot on. It is far from special but shows Hitchcock has come a long way and can do a competent job of making what could be an uninteresting story into a thrilling tale.

There is a Hitchcockian moment right near the start when Mr. Hillcrest looks out the window. Through his minds eye we see the pretty country lane outside his house transform into a mess of ugly factories. This is pure Hitchcock voyeurism and shows how he has learnt when to use such techniques (in earlier films the voyeuristic moments are often random see The Pleasure Garden).

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One scene that really stood out for me was an auction scene where both men bid for a plot of land. The way in which this scene was shot truly astounded me as it seemed way ahead of the time. As the auctioneer looks around the crowd searching for bidders the camera follows moving quickly over everyone before sudden whip-pans across to whomever bids. I’m not sure if this is the earliest example of such whip-pans but I’m certain it must be one of the first uses of a shot that would not gain true popularity until at least the 70’s. The entire sequence is just incredibly well put together.

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THE BAD

The bad sides of this film are that I had trouble deciphering between Hillcrest’s daughter and Hornblower daughter-in-law as they are both similarly aged brunettes; this made parts of the film very confusing over what was happening particularly at the start of new scenes.

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I also noted that the framing on nearly every shot was cut-off at the top. Meaning actors only had half a head at some points, although I know this must down to the digital conversion and age of the film (not Hitchcock’s filmmaking) it was just rather distracting and ruined my enjoyment.

The pacing of this film although much better than say Juno & The Paycock was still slightly off with a lot of talking and very little action. However scenes like the aforementioned auction scene where told using a brilliant combination of visual storytelling and sound.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Once more Hitchcock does not make a cameo in the film – If I had realised that he didn’t start making cameos properly until his Hollywood films I wouldn’t have put this section in. But oh well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Skin Game is a very interesting and well put together film, far from a masterpiece it is a film that is thoroughly enjoyable. 3 Hitchs. 

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