11 November 2008

Hitchcock | Champagne (1928)

Champagne (1928)
written by Alfred Hitchcock and Eliot Stannard, based on a story by Walter C. Mycroft

There's just not enough story here. The daughter of a rich man is out of control. Dad cuts off her funds by pretending to be broke. She gets a job at a club. Dad admits he was lying. The End. It feels like Hitchcock is a student with a five page essay due tomorrow and only one page worth of ideas. This is immediately apparent when we spend the first thirty minutes -- one third -- of the film watching the daughter party. Painful.

One bright spot is that Dad is played by Gordon Harker, who's quickly becoming a favorite character actor from this era. Previously, he played the trainer in The Ring and the hilarious handyman in The Farmer's Wife. This time, he gets to ham it up as a rich businessman, chomping on cigars and ordering people around. He also does this twitch thing with just the right side of his face that's great. When he gets upset, the corner of his mouth yanks upwards towards his eye. Nice work.

Hitchcock also does get in a few good shots here and there, as he always does. Apparently, he forced the producers to buy a giant champagne glass so he could get some shots from inside of it. Those turned out nice. I also liked the super-crowded club at the end, with people forced to dance shoulder-to-shoulder and back-to-back. It didn't look like much fun and I think that was the point.

Said Hitchcock of this film to Truffaut: "...probably the lowest ebb in my output." I hope so. (4/10)

Watched the region 2 DVD released by Optimum in 2007 as a part of the Early Hitchcock Collection. They did a slightly better job of transferring this one than they did with The Farmer's Wife. Still, there's an occassional flash of green and the compression isn't great.