The Ring ★★★

Tempted to just copy and paste the entirety of this contemporary review from The Times, which pretty much nails it at the moment of release (no mean feat). "There are passages in his present work in which Mr. Hitchcock seems to have been guided by a genuine determination to use the films as a medium distinct from the theatre," writes the unsigned reviewer. "The director of a film has deliberately chosen for treatment those aspects of emotion -- for example, the composite emotion of a crowd -- which the screen is peculiarly fitted to express, and has deliberately excluded those aspects which words might instantly make clear but which cannot be approached in a film without danger of crudity and false emphasis. What is required is a new selectiveness by a man who, eager to experiment in what seems to him to be potentially a new art, is not arrogant enough to suppose that all arts are comprehended in his own." That all seems about right.

Noted by Jonathan Rosenbaum as "probably the most Germanic in style of Hitchcock’s silent films," with a visually sumptuous/overstimulating first act that maximizes the crowd bit-playor choreographic illusion of chaos inherent in the fairground setting. As in all his films, Hitchcock resists turning every shot into an event or every sequence into a showstopper; there must be interludes of straightforward drama, a normative narrative counterpart to the visual excesses. Here, the downtime emphasis is on the pretty deadly relationship between One-Round Jack (Carl Brisson) and his ungrateful slut of a wife Nelly (Lillian Hall-Davies). That's the setup the script gives us, and watching it unfold over and over is a grind.