Alfred Hitchcock's second talkie was a surprisingly static adaptation of the Sean O'Casey stage drama Juno and the Paycock. Set during the Irish "troubles" of the early 1920s, the film focuses on the trials and tribulations of a typical Dublin tenement family. Sara Allgood is brilliant as family matriarch Juno Boyle, who must contend with her bibulous, braggadocio husband, Captain Jack Boyle (Edward Chapman), known as the "paycock" because he always struts around like he owns the world. As Captain Jack carouses with his drinking buddy Joxer Daly (Sydney Morgan), Juno tries to keep her family together, a task that proves harder with each passing day, especially when daughter Mary (Kathleen O'Regan) is impregnated by her irresponsible boyfriend. Things take a tragic turn when Juno's weakling son Johnny (John Laurie), a member of the IRA, is shot as an informer by his own comrades. Sara Allgood's scenes after the death of her son are absolutely heart-wrenching, offering ample compensation for Hitchcock's plodding direction and the hopelessly hammy performance by Edward Chapman. Many of the supporting actors were drawn from the ranks of Dublin's Abbey Players, notably Barry Fitzgerald, making his film debut as The Orator. Juno and the Paycock was adapted for the screen by Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville.
by Hal Erickson synopsis