The Pleasure Garden (1925) – reviewed by George

Alfred Hitchcock had been a title designer and an assistant director and had directed an unfinished film, and a short for which he was uncredited. So The Pleasure Garden, a British-German coproduction shot almost entirely in Munich, counts as his first film as a director.
This silent film, which concentrates on the lives of two chorus girls, begins as a plotted show business chronicle and quickly becomes a series of vignettes which cleverly show the true nature of the four principles. They are: first, Patsy Brand (Virginia Valli) who never leaves the chorus. She is a natural brunette, but the chorus girls all wear blonde wigs, and Patsy looks better as a blonde, though she never seems to recognize this. Second, Jill (Carmelita Geraghty), who actually never dances in the chorus. A daring soul, she tells the producer Mr. Hamilton (George Snell) that for her audition she wants to show him how the Charleston should be done, and she is so good that she gets a star turn immediately. And when Hamilton offers her 5 pounds a week, she says,. “You know I’m better than that. I’ll take twenty.” And she gets it! Just the night before, when Jill first got to London, she had her purse rifled by a pickpocket and all her cash, plus her introduction to Mr. Hamilton, stolen. But Patsy takes her home with her, and lets her stay there free until she can get a job, which she does the next day when she so impresses Hamilton. Naturally she stays on.
Third, Hugh Fielding (John Stewart), who falls for Jill as soon as he sees her, but he is on vacation from his job working at a plantation in the tropics. In telling Patsy that he loves Jill, he says he has to go back to his job, but if he stays two years he’ll have enough saved to marry. And Fourth, Mr. Levet (Miles Mander, the only cast member I recognized), who is Hugh’s friend, also working at the plantation, and falling for Patsy, who reciprocates his affection, even though Patsy’s dog Cuddles always welcomes Hugh fondly and barks loudly at Levet.
The vignettes I mentioned quickly show changes and also hidden sides of the four leads. Jill’s change is shown in a letter to Patsy: “I am so sorry to leave you so soon, but I have had the opportunity to take a tiny furnished flat for myself, because you will realize that I couldn’t stay in cheap lodgings here. I am nearly a star.”
The tale is very well-told, in an excellent script, and Hitchcock’s direction is completely in control as we see the true natures of people we had thought better of. Not the suspense we think of when we hear his name, but the suspense of people slowly revealing the truth about themselves.
Written by Eliot Stannard, from the Novel by Oliver Sandys, Asst. Director Alma Reville.

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