Comfortable and Furious

Juno and the Paycock


1 hour 34 minutes

Fair Value of Juno and the Paycock: $-5.00. 1920s knockoff Bernard Shaw misery porn that lacks in much of the style or timing that Hitchcock would later display. This early Hitchcock film shows why he went to thrillers and suspense- it’s artless and heartless.

Summary of the Concept: A poor family in the slums of Dublin is destroyed by the prospect of wealth.

In the ruins of the Easter Rising: It’s hard to read this story by the Irish playwright Sean O’Casey as anything but regret for the suffering and devastation that the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Republic. A family falls apart in a slum tenement of Dublin. Captain Boyle is a malingering slacker and alcoholic; his son Johnny is a disabled and traumatized veteran; it’s up to his wife Juno and his daughter Mary to bring what little income there is.

Who is this film perfect for? Well, if you like communist realist working class tragedies that wallow in relentless misery, you’ve got a front row seat for alcoholism, nihilism, and senseless political partisan brutality.

‘General Montillos’ is a bad and regressive racial stereotype at first, but the character will develop. Nonetheless, the film is clearly a product of 1930s England.

What works in this film? It certainly makes the case for 1920s Ireland being an unrelenting hell-hole, a sharp criticism of the Irish Civil War and the new Irish Republic. Without later researching that it was a Sean O’Casey play, I initially believed it to be some Ulster/British drama- sort of a ‘see how awful things are now the British empire is gone’ sort of story.

Sara Allgood and John Laurie both turn in excellent performances. The acting in general seems to be of a transitional state from the hyper-acting of the silent era to the more grounded realism of the 1930s.

What fails? Hitchcock basically did a teleplay. There are almost no transitions, just a bunch of actors talking at a table. It was only out of professionalism that I saw this film through to the end.

Is this film worth re-watching? Not at all. It’s not worth watching, except as a historical window onto the squalor and sadness of post-independence Ireland.