10 Sep Review – The Skin Game

FlixFling contributor, Alexandra Gibson reviews The Skin Game

While The Skin Game sounds like a film that I shouldn’t admit to have watched in polite company, it is actually the exact opposite.  The phrase “the skin game” refers to dirty antics that can take place during a hardened feud or disagreement between two parties.  The movie The Skin Game is a 1931 Hitchcock film about industrial progress, social change, and deep dark family secrets.

The Skin Game revolves around the Hillcrests and the Hornblowers.  The Hillcrests are a traditional, old money family of British aristocrats.  The Hornblowers are a working-class family that, through manufacturing, has become substantially wealthy. The Hornblowers buy a plot of land from the Hillcrests, and begin plans to build more factories on it. The Hillcrests are then shocked and dismayed with the prospect of their former tenants being evicted to make way for more smokestacks, and so do everything they can to get the Hornblowers off the land.  The story is not only about a rich family’s view being disrupted but traditionalists contending with progress and the discomfort that can come with lower social classes entering the socioeconomic realm of the upper social classes.

This film was surprising for a few reasons.  For one thing, it is the first Hitchcock film I have seen that was not suspenseful or exciting.  There are no detectives in this film, no mistaken identity, indeed no crime of any kind.  But please don’t think that makes this film any less stimulating.  The Skin Game starts out slow, but gets better when one family goes digging for dirt on the other.  This film elicits an intellectual and emotional response, especially as innocent bystanders are pulled into the muck.   Though this film is out of character for Hitchcock, it is still Hitchcock; it’s still better than most other things.


*Clip from the film