Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Pleasure Garden

(1925, UK, 6,458 feet, b/w)
d Alfred Hitchcock p Michael Balcon, Erich Pommer sc Eliot Stannard ad Ludwig Reiber m Lee Erwin cast Virginia Valli, Carmelita Geraghty, Miles Mander, John Stuart, Ferdinand Martini, Florence Helminger

The Pleasure Garden is a London nightclub, but also an apt description of how chorus girl Jill takes life. Sexy theatrical goings-on fade with her into the background, however, as her straighter room-mate Patsy takes centre stage. The pleasure garden is certainly not Africa, where their fiancé and husband respectively go to work; illness is reported and Patsy heads off, only to find hubby being nursed by a native (of Polynesia, by the looks of her). Insanity descends in striking style. Balcon’s American import Valli was a big deal for Hitch’s debut and she comports herself well, even if Geraghty is much more fun. Over-emotionalism is largely kept at bay by a brisk pace, and whilst the style is still nascent, the story is built around doubles/opposites (sex, class, morality) and familiar touches already appear, from the peeping camera of the opening show, to a nicely callous drowning that ushers an atmospheric climax.

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