1925                           Silent drama

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    • Virginia Valli Patsy Brand
    • Carmelita Geraghty Jill Cheyne
    • Miles Mander Levet
    • John Stuart Hugh Fielding
    • Nita Naldi Native Girl


  • Dir:
  • Scr:
      Eliot Stannard, from the novel by Oliver Sandys


       T h e   P l e a s u r e
G a r d e n

    Rated: -
    Produced: 1925 / Released: 1927

      Although shot a year before, the film was held back after Graham Cutts, senior director at Gainsborough, convinced the producers that Hitchcock had a flop on his hands. It was eventually released after The Lodger became a massive hit and confirmed to producer Michael Balcon that Hitchcock had been worth the risk.

      Long before I discovered the existence of this film, I had often wondered whether there was a link between Hitchcock and German Expressionist film of the 1920s. It seemed to me that in the master's use of landscapes and set designs in many of his films throughout his long career, he would have had to have been exposed first hand to the methods of that film genre. Don't get me wrong: Hitch hadn't copied German Expressionism but had taken its methods and through his unique imagination had made them his own. But was their a tangible link?

      Well, upon discovering this film that link was in place.

      Chorus girl Virginia Valli follows new husband Miles Mander to the tropics. There, she discovers he's really a psychotic alcoholic, who's living with a native woman.

      Made at the UFA studios in Germany as a co-production between Michael Balcon and Erich Pommer, German Expressionism was at its most potent. Metropolis was in production and the genius of Fritz Lang had not yet been sullied by the commercial restraints of Hollywood.

      And Hitch at just 25-years-old was working in the centre of Expressionism, youthfully open to absorb its influences.

      Yes, this is a creaky, unconvincing and sometimes tedious silent melodrama. However, it does mark his solo feature directing debut and, for all its shortcomings, reveals in embryo several of the master's stylistic devices. Yes, these would be more fully explored in The Lodger the following year (and which Hitch called the first true "Hitchcock move") but the root, the reason for being, of all Hitch's films can be found here in this movie.

      For that reason alone, this is a must for students of his work.

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