Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Pleasure Garden (1925)



A girl seeks fame and fortune at all costs, while another searches for true love. A story of lies, betrayal, romance, and murder.

Beefing on Hitchcock
The Pleasure Garden (1925)

Jill is a girl who comes to London with dreams of becoming a famous dancer and will stop at nothing to accomplish her dream. After her life savings get stolen from her, she befriends another dancer named Patsy who gives her a place to live and a shot at getting an audition. Jill forcefully demonstrates (what I suppose could be called) her dance moves for the owner of The Pleasure Garden Theater, and he is so impressed that he hires her immediately, allowing her to name her price.

Climbing the ladder of success, she tosses aside her fiance Hugh and new friend to live on her own and romance a supposed prince. Meanwhile, Patsy marries Levet (a friend of Jill's forgotten fiance) who leaves her behind for a life of debauchery in Africa. Convinced her husband is sick, Patsy finds him in the arms of another woman, and fate throws her into the presence of Hugh, who is not only deathly ill but ignorant of Jill's abandonment. Conflict arises when Levet finds his wife caring for his friend, leading to a climactic end.

I can honestly say I wasn't expecting much from Alfred Hitchcock's directorial debut. Not that I underestimate silent film; more that "first films" of classic, well-regarded film-makers usually tend to be lacking, especially in comparison to their later, better known works. Well, I will gladly and happily admit that The Pleasure Garden caught me off-guard by not only being very well made, but also having an incredibly solid story.

Were it made today, I don't think there would be quite enough story to fill a whole movie, but at a good 75 minutes length it works quite well for its era. Possibly the first thought I had once the movie ended was that it could have worked very well as an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television show.

A very good first movie from one of the (if not THE) most famous directors ever, I am sure I will watch The Pleasure Garden many more times over the years.