The Pleasure Garden (film)
|The Pleasure Garden|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alfred Hitchcock|
|Screenplay by||Eliot Stannard|
|Based on||The Pleasure Garden
by Oliver Sandys
|Music by||Lee Erwin|
|Cinematography||Gaetano di Ventimiglia|
The Pleasure Garden is a 1925 British silent film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in his directorial debut. Based on a novel by Oliver Sandys, the film is about two chorus girls at the Pleasure Garden Theatre in London and their troubled relationships.
Jill arrives in London with a letter of introduction to Mr. Hamilton, proprietor of the Pleasure Garden Theatre. The letter and all her money are stolen from her handbag as she waits to see him. Patsy, a chorus girl at the Pleasure Garden, sees her difficulty and offers to take her to her own lodgings and to try to get her a job. Next morning Jill is successful in getting a part in the show. Her fiance, Hugh, arrives with a colleague called Levet. Levet and Patsy become very close while Jill is being pursued by a number of rich men, particularly a Prince Ivan. Hugh is sent to Africa by his company.
Jill moves out of the lodgings she shares with Patsy and becomes more involved with the Prince. Patsy and Levet marry and honeymoon in Italy before he returns to Africa. After some time Patsy finally receives a letter from her husband in which he says he has been sick for weeks. Patsy is determined to go to take care of him and asks Jill to lend her the fare. Jill refuses as she is preparing for her marriage to the Prince and has no money to spare. Patsy is able to borrow the fare from her landlords Mr and Mrs Sidey. When she arrives at her husband's bungalow, she finds that he is living with a local woman and leaves. Levet tries to drive the woman away but when she refuses to leave him, follows her into the sea and drowns her.
Meanwhile, Patsy has found that Hugh really is very ill with a fever and stays to take care of him. Levet finds them together and accuses Hugh of making advances to his wife. Patsy follows him back to his bungalow. Hugh warns his boss that Levet is dangerous. The boss shoots Levet dead as he is trying to kill Patsy. Hugh has discovered from a newspaper that Jill is to marry the Prince. He and Patsy find consolation with each other and return to London.
- Virginia Valli as Patsy Brand
- Carmelita Geraghty as Jill Cheyne
- Miles Mander as Levet
- John Stuart as Hugh Fielding
- Ferdinand Martini as Mr. Sidey
- Florence Helminger as Mrs. Sidey
- Georg H. Schnell as Oscar Hamilton
- Karl Falkenberg as Prince Ivan
- Lewis Brody
Hitchcock described the casting process thus:
Michael Balcon, who had conceived the idea of "importing" American stars long before anybody else, had engaged Virginia Valli for the leading role. She was at the height of her career then – glamorous, famous, and very popular. That she was coming to Europe to make a picture at all was something of an event.
The film was shot in Italy and Germany. Many misfortunes befell the cast and crew. When Gaetano Ventimiglia, the film's cinematographer, failed to hide the film from Italian customs officials, the team had to pay fines and buy new film, seriously depleting their budget.
Virginia Valli was the only major cast member who was American.
The film was shot in 1925 and shown to the British press in March 1926 but not officially released in the UK until 1927, after Hitchcock's film The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog became a massive hit in February 1927.
In June 2013, thanks to a $3 million project, Pleasure and eight other silent Hitchcock films were restored by the British Film Institute. As a result, 20 minutes of improved footage was added to this film, along with "the atmospheric color tinting of the period".
According to critic Dave Kehr, The Pleasure Garden's opening scene stands like a virtual "clip reel of Hitchcock motifs to come". The very first shot captures chorus girls descending a spiral staircase (see Vertigo); a man uses opera glasses to better appreciate a blond chorus dancer (see Rear Window); and the same blond, who at first appears erotically remote, later emerges as down-to-earth and approachable (see Family Plot).