The Pleasure Garden (1925)
Genre: Silent Crime Drama (UK, Germany)
Starring: Virginia Valli, Miles Mander (Murder, My Sweet, The Picture Of Dorian Gray)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo, Rope)
Overview: The first film Alfred Hitchcock ever directed, it is a story of two female dancers and the men they get entangled with.
Acting: Until this flick, Alfred Hitchcock merely assisted in the direction of two films. This is the first film he did all by his lonesome and the crew he managed did quite well considering the era. The melodrama of 1925 wavered between the ripe and the rotten, and we're lucky to have realistic dramatic moments at the end rather than the hammy fad of too much zeal.
Cinematography: The twenties, where women wore those tight flapper hats and they all looked alike... That was my big problem with this. Had it not been for the clarifications of Girlfriend of Squish, I'm sure I'd have gotten lost knowing who was who and who was dating whom. Right, right, Cinematography: Rote, all too common, save that fantastic ending.
Script: Lots of intertitles explained the action and aided quite a bit in defining the characters quite well, like the witty-quipped tart and her honest friend. Rather than simply being a vehicle for explaining the action, it was a nice surprise having some writing that went just a little deeper. Oh, and without the script we wouldn't know the dog's name was Cuddles!
Plot: Based on a novel, this is story before anything else, so we have a solid multi-layered drama about a nice girl who meets a selfish man and a saucy tart who meets a loyal man and it all culminates with a terrific and really exciting finish in some tropical clime. The first half of the story was a little slow however, perhaps ten minutes shorter would have made for a more dynamic story. I will admit that the end was better than any of the early Hitchcock I've seen so far, especially since it's so believable.
Mood: The quality of the silent era films are, often as not, rough. This was just a good enough print to forgive its flaws while still being a constant reminder of the age. Besides that, when you have flapper girls with those tight hats and long cigarette holders courting princes and dancing the Charleston, you know it's authentic... well I GUESS it's authentic... pardon me for not having been born.
Overall Rating: 74% (Pleasure More Than Pain)
Aftertaste: How obscure is this? For me to see it, I needed to get a friend from out of town lend me the version he taped off of the television back in the day. Good luck finding it yourself, and thanks a bunch Liam! It makes me realize that when this VHS technology goes away, a lot of stuff will be left behind, though I suspect that will be a good thing, given all the garbage I suffered through so far.