The Skin Game

1931

Drama

149
IMDb Rating 5.8 10 2,732

Synopsis


Downloaded times
August 12, 2020

Cast

Edmund Gwenn as Dr. Harold Medford
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
758.66 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
85 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.38 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
85 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Steffi_P 7 / 10 / 10

"No matter how you begin, it all ends in this skin game"

The early 30s were a time of experimentation for Hitchcock, with theme as much as with technique. After discovering that the crime thriller was his forte with Blackmail and Murder!, his at the time zigzagging career lead him to attempt a talkie drama adapted from a fairly mediocre stage play concerning a feud between the families of an aristocrat and an entrepreneur. In attempting a straight ahead drama without any major thriller elements, Hitchcock nevertheless employs all the techniques he had been perfecting in his earlier crime pictures – dynamic editing, a focus on the psychology of guilt and fear, as well as some of the sound techniques of his previous talkies. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. He tries to inject some tension into an auction scene with whip pans and quick editing, which is a fairly good display of technique but we don't really care enough about the outcome of the bidding to get really drawn in at this point. For some of the more talky scenes, Hitchcock tries to move beyond the story's theatrical roots by focusing on reactions and having dialogue take place off screen. This helps to give weight to the second half of the film. In particular, Hitch's dwelling on the face of Chloe, the innocent victim of the feud, makes the audience feel sympathy for her character, which in turn makes the climactic scenes work and prevents them from slipping into ridiculous melodrama (which the stage version may well have done). For some of the more subdued scenes, Hitchcock preserves an unbroken take but still takes the focus on and off different characters by smoothly dollying in and out. This same method would be used by Laurence Olivier when he began directing Shakespeare adaptations in the 1940s. However, too many of the dialogue scenes in The Skin Game are simply a lot of panning as the camera tries to keep up with extravagant theatrical performances. This is a fairly good go at theatrical drama for Hitchcock, but it was made at a time when he was coming to realise not only his strength in the suspense thriller, but his weakness in (and utter distaste for) every other genre. He was probably beginning to look at this kind of project as a rather dull waste of time, and definitely at odds to his sensibility. As an example, this is one of the very few Hitchcock pictures to take advantage of natural beauty, and yet he makes this aspect a victim of his playful irony, by taking his most beautiful countryside shot, then pulling out to reveal it is merely a tiny picture on a sale poster, surrounded by Hornblower and his cronies laughing over the deal they have just made. The Skin Game is rarely gripping, but at times it is powerful, and in any case it has a short enough running time to prevent it from getting boring. Hitchcock however was looking now to have more fun with crime and suspense, and this sense of the dramatic (not to mention a sense of genuine sympathy for the victim) would not return until his later Hollywood pictures, and even then only occasionally.

Reviewed by steve.schonberger 8 / 10 / 10

great suspense build-up, abrupt ending

Hitchcock may be the master of suspense, but this movie doesn't show that mastery fully-developed. The movie starts out strong, and builds to a great climax, but then wraps up abruptly. The movie shows much of Hitchcock's skill at building suspense, but doesn't deliver an ending to match the rising tension. It's too bad, because the build-up is very strong. Pay attention to the epilogue scene for great use of irony. About the title: A "skin game" means a swindle, trick, or scam. The movie starts with Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn) buying property from the proud, proper English landowner Hillcrest (C.V. France), assuring him that the tenant farmers would be allowed to stay. Soon Hornblower evicts them to build factories, because he is a man of progress and industry. Hillcrest is outraged, and sets out to stop Hornblower's efforts to buy up land for more factories. Hillcrest attempts to slow down Hornblower's land purchases by rigging an auction on some property that's up for sale. But Hornblower figures out the scheme, and outsmarts Hillcrest with his own tricks. Hillcrest escalates the feud by hiring a man to dig up dirt on Hornblower and his family. To avoid spoilers, read no further ... The hired investigator manages to dig up a secret about Chloe Hornblower (Phyllis Konstam) that's so horribly scandalous that the characters in the 1931 movie can't even explain it in plain language: She went with men to help them get their divorces. The Hillcrest family blackmails Hornblower with the threat of revealing the secret. Hornblower sells the property he had bought back to Hillcrest, at a loss, to keep the dirty secret quiet, and Hillcrest solemnly promises to say nothing. But the secret, once discovered, can't be kept hidden by mere promises, and it comes out. Chloe is desperately shamed, and kills herself. Hornblower is ruined, his his family name smeared and his wealth greatly diminished. Hillcrest has won the feud, but at the cost of his pride as an honorable landowner. Ironically, when the tenant farmers appear to thank him for being able to return to their rented farm, Hillcrest doesn't even remember Hornblower's original offense.

Reviewed by mikhail080 8 / 10 / 10

Early HItchcock Stands Test of Time

I recently saw Hitchcock's "Rich and Strange" and really enjoyed it, so I was game for another go at this early 1930's British cinema, in my attempt to become a "Hitchcock completist." Please keep in mind that I'm an American with a pretty-good ear for British dialog, but there are some speeches contained here that I couldn't understand in the least. But only a fairly small portion that is. The early sound equipment doesn't help either. The title "The Skin Game" refers to a heated altercation that leaves no holds barred, and no prisoners taken. The plot line is essentially a "Hatfields and McCoys" family feud over land rights, with a lot of dirt being dug up on both families involved. Like pretty much all early sound films, there is a heavy reliance on dialog and the spoken phrase, which makes "The Skin Game" obviously derived from the stage. At the beginning there's a long take with probably ten pages of dialog in it, using a medium shot of three characters, with the camera panning between them. At least once, someone was speaking dialog while not on camera, which I always find distracting -- a minor flaw I admit, but noticeable. Hitchcock's pacing feels relatively quick considering, and he keeps interest in these scenes with dramatic exits and entrances of characters, and revelations of plot details. Really some of these takes were so long that actors coughed, dropped things and retrieved them, and other apparent flubs that were never re-shot. Seems like once the director was five minutes into a scene he couldn't afford the film stock to begin again, so there are a lot of miscues and such, which kind of adds to the immediacy. Especially considering that I'm certain that even the young Hitchcock was keenly aware of every missed cue and dropped line, and it had to drive him to distraction! I was certainly impressed by this early Hitchcock effort and I'm sure that audiences back then went away from this one with the feeling that they got their money's worth. It was apparent that an extremely talented film maker was at work here, trying to keep the audience involved every step of the way. And he did succeed actually. For instance, there is a scene at an auction house that lasts for about ten minutes, and Hitchcock sets it up in such a way to keep the audience anxiously awaiting the outcome. He has the camera making very fast pans from one bidder to the next, slowing down only when the bidding does. The audience has some background information about the proceedings, but not enough to spoil the surprise at the end. It's early sound cinema -- so most viewers today can't bear this kind of thing, but if you're familiar with and enjoy films of the early 20Th Century, it's extremely enjoyable and does have a payoff at the end! *** out of *****

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