Champagne (1928)

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

, 1928Story by , Scenario by , Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by Production Design by .

Alfred Hitchcock directs this social satire about a spoiled-rich heiress who is so indulgent that she charters a private plane to fly her out to the middle of the ocean to join her boyfriend on a cruiseliner. Arriving in Paris, she throws no end of fancy parties, but her fun is ended when her father shows up and announces that he’s gone broke and she’ll need to start fending for herself. Taking the news on the chin and adapting to the practical life quickly, she gets a job at a nightclub and sees her old life from a new perspective, ending her love affair with her boyfriend and doing her best to keep her spirits up despite her newfound desperation. The future master of suspense has great fun creating images here, among the best of them the shot of our heroine arriving on the boat with a dirty face except where her goggles were situated. Hitchcock has made a film that looks as beautiful as a glass of champagne, but what really works is the sympathy he has for his characters; a rich girl taught a lesson is a popular theme to sell the masses filling movie theatres in the Depression (and would stay one in the decades to come, in films like Maid to Order and Uptown Girls), but the director doesn’t hate his heroine for enjoying her privileges, nor does he particularly enjoy the degradation he puts her through, always emphasizing her good nature as someone who does what is necessary to keep going. Expressive performances and rich production values make this one an easy watch, even though it’s far from the most memorable of his early works.

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