Pick of the Day: George Ryga’s Hungry Hills

In our May 6 issue, Vanda Schmockel did an article on this revisionist Western directed by Regina’s Rob King which opens a four-night run at the RPL Theatre tonight at 9:15 p.m.

The use of the author’s name in the title, by the way, isn’t an affectation. It’s driven by circumstances.

Born in Alberta in 1922 of Ukrainian immigrant parents, Ryga died in 1987. He’s best-known for his 1967 play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, and wrote  a novel called Hungry Hills in 1963. 

Both for legal purposes related to copyright, plus marketing reasons, it was almost a necessity for producers to add Ryga’s name to the title. Twenty years before Ryga published Hungry Hills British author Daphne du Maurier wrote a book called Hungry Hill that was later made into a big-budget Hollywood film.

It’s a romnace set in the Irish County of Cork (so named because it’s inhabitants were prolific producers of corks for wine bottles and what not, I wonder, or because they liked to get corked?) and follows the exploits of a family of Anglo-Irish landowners.

If you read Vanda’s article, you’ll learn that Ryga’s story has a rural family theme too. So copyright had to be a consideration. Plus, there’s an obvious  marketing upside. Imagine some poor woman trying to convince her boyfriend/huband to see Hungry Hills?

Many men, I suspect, would make the not unreasonable mistake of assuming they we’re being invited to see Hungry Hill and snort in reply “A movie based on some trifle that Daphne du Maurier wrote in 1943. Puhleaze honey!”

Musicwise tonight, the highlight is Hannah Georgas’ performance at O’Hanlon’s Pub with Colleen Brown and Dave Vertesi of Hey Ocean fame backing her up. Here’s a link to a preview James Brotheridge did in our May 6 issue. And if you’re curious about the video for “Thick Skin” that he talks about “here it is” (YouTube)

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.