Juno and the Paycock (1930) is a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Barry Fitzgerald, Maire O’Neill, Edward Chapman and Sara Allgood.
The film was based on a successful play by Sean O’Casey.
Barry Fitzgerald appears as an orator in the first scene of the film, but has no other role. In the slums of Dublin during the Irish Civil War, Captain Boyle (Edward Chapman) lives in a two room tenement flat with his wife Juno (Sara Allgood) and children Mary (Kathleen O’Regan) and Johnny (John Laurie). Juno has dubbed her husband “Captain Paycock” because she thinks him as useful and vain as a Peacock. Juno works while the Captain loafs around the flat when not drinking up the family’s meager finances at the neighborhood pub.
Daughter Mary has a job but is presently on strike against the victimization of a co-worker. Son Johnny has become a semi invalid after losing an arm and severely injuring his hip in a fight with the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence. Although Johnny has taken the Anti-Treaty side during the continuing Irish Civil War, he has recently turned in a fellow IRA member to the Irish Free State police. As a result, Captain Paycock tells his friend Joxer (Sidney Morgan) of his disgust for his son.
Daughter Mary is courted by Jerry Devine (Dave Morris) but dumps him for Charlie Bentham (John Longden) who whisks her away after telling Mary’s family the Captain is to receive an inheritance. The elated Captain borrows money against the (as yet un-received) inheritance and spends it freely on new furniture and a Victrola. Family friends are invited to an impromptu party at the once shabby tenement.
The Captain soon learns the inheritance was a lie by Charles to gain Mary’s favors. The Captain keeps the bad news a secret until creditors show up. Even Joxer turns on the Captain and gleefully spreads the news of the nonexistent inheritance. The furniture store repossesses the furniture. The tailor demands money for new clothes. Pub owner Mrs. Madigan’ (Maire O’Neill) takes the Victrola to cover the Captain’s bar tab.
The worst is yet to come, however. Mary reveals that she has shamed the family by becoming pregnant by Charles, who has long since disappeared. Her former fiancé Jerry proclaims his love for Mary and offers to marry her back until he learns of her pregnancy. As a parting shot, it is revealed that Johnny’s body has been found riddled with bullets. Almost certainly through Joxer, the Anti-Treaty IRA has learned of his status as an informer for the Garda Síochána. Realizing that their family has been destroyed, Mary declares, “It’s true. There is no God.” Although completely shattered, Juno shushes her daughter, saying that they will need both Christ and the Blessed Virgin to deal with their grief. Alone, however, she laments her son’s fate before the religious statues in the family’s empty tenement.
The film was based on the successful play Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey. Hitchcock filmed a faithful reproduction of the play using few of the directorial touches he had incorporated in his previous films. Instead he often held the camera for long single shots. He was eager to have a scene set outside the flat inserted into the film, and after permission from O’Casey, added a pub scene. O’Casey made quite an impression on Hitchcock, and was the inspiration for the prophet of doom in the diner in The Birds.
This was the second sound film by Alfred Hitchcock. The cast’s strong Irish accents, along with the still primitive sound recording techniques, rendered the dialogue nearly incomprehensible to anyone outside of the region.
The film has different names in various countries. The original UK title is “The Pleasure Garden”. In the USA the film is known as “The Shame of Mary Boyle”, in Italy the name of the movie is “Giunone e il pavone”, in Hungary it’s “Juno és a páva”, in Portugal it’s “Juno e Paycock”, in Finland it’s “Juno ja riikinkukko”, in Sweden it`s “Juno och påfågeln” and in Venezuela the move is known as “Juno y el pavo real”.