Monday, February 25, 2013

Downhill (1927) / Easy Virtue (1928)



Beefing on Hitchcock
Downhill / Easy Virtue

I have combined these two films into one short post, simply because the stories are practically identical. Someone gets wrongly accused of an immoral act, they are shunned by their families, and their lives veer into a downward spiral from which there seems no return. What gets me the most about these movies is that the accusation is so incredibly tame compared to standards nowadays.

In Downhill, a girl accuses the lead of getting her pregnant, even though his best friend is really to blame. This gets him expelled from school and disowned by his father, who doesn't believe his innocence. He goes off all "prodigal son" style, and gets continuously screwed over by everyone he meets.

In Easy Virtue, a woman is accused of being seduced by a painter and cheating on her drunken husband. She tries to keep her true identity and background a secret, but when all is revealed her new husband discards her.

Both films really do remind me of those drug awareness films, where someone smokes pot once and then suddenly is a strung-out heroin addict who has to kill to get a fix.  It's all a bit outlandish, and they really don't stand up to time like most of Hitchcock's other films. Maybe there's just something about murder that's timeless, while social taboos have very clearly changed over the past hundred years.

That all being said, I think I prefer Downhill over Easy Virtue, partly due to the lead actor Ivor Novello, who appeared also in The Lodger. Easy Virtue had a hard time keeping my attention, while I had no problem sticking with Downhill despite the glaring lack of music in the version I own.

I doubt I'd be recommending either of these to anyone who isn't keen on seeing absolutely everything Hitchcock has ever made, like I am...