Ok before I begin the actual blog post I’m just going to write a couple of lines on what I’m doing here and why I’m writing this. Basically I’m a Film Student who (predictably) love film, therefore the prospect of writing a blog on such a subject seemed fairly obvious.

As for this particular posting it is the first post in a series that should have occur once a week for an entire year. The whole series is dedicated to watching the films of the Master of Suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock. Basically I recently discovered the genius directed exactly 52 films (I’ve seen about 10 so far) so thought it would be awesome to watch one a week – starting from his feature – and write a review type thingy on here.

So enough rambling on and here is my thoughts of the Hitchcock’s directorial debut: THE PLEASURE GARDEN

“WHAT HAPPENED?

The Pleasure Garden obviously being made in 1925 precedes the Jazz Singer by 2 years meaning that sound in cinema was not yet established as something to drive the artform forward and subsequently the film is a silent film.

In terms of the narrative of the film is rather complezx. It begins with blatant Hitchcockian voyeurism, there are lots of pretty girls dancing and we see an old man with binoculars staring at their legs with a blurry point of view shot.

After this we discover one of these girls to be the main character, a brunette called Patsy (played by Virginia Valli). Patsy is a hard working dancer, she is not extremely talented but pretty enough to get by and pay the rent at a humble flat and look after her dog, Cuddles. After the performance Patsy happens to meet Jill, a young girl who looks surprisingly similar to Patsy. Jill is from the country and has spent all her money trying to get to London. Patsy and Jill soon become friends leading to the introduction of the men to the story. Hugh (John Stewart – no relation to James although he is tall, dark and handsome) is Jill’s fiancee and is just above to move to the Far East with work for two years in order to save up enough money to marry her. He also introduces his boss Mr. Levet to our lovely girls. Before long Mr. Levet has seduced Patsy by asking her ‘Can’t we share our loneliness together’ and so they are married. However what Mr. Levet doesn’t tell his new wife is that he has a mistress in the Far East where he works. Patsy therefore waits for a letter from her husband but when he doesn’t respond presumes he is ill so goes to ask Jill (who is now high flying and having seemingly forgotten Hugh engaged to a Prince) for some money. Jill flat out refuses leaving Patsy to scrape the money together from her kindly landlords. Once she arrives in the Far East predictably thinks kick off with several twists, which will not be mentioned here as they are probably the best part of the film.

THE GOOD

To start with the good points to this film there are several very classic Hitchcockian ideas portrayed in this film albeit not used as well as in some of his latter films.

As aforementioned the film starts with voyeuristic shots of an old perving over young girls legs. This allows the audience to see through his eyes as we see a blurry shot of what he is looking at. However this man does not play any sort of major role within the film and therefore I’m not entirely sure the significance of point of such a shot.

The themes of death, murder and adultery are all tackled in this film which of-course are areas that will be covered by Hitchcock throughout his career and there are several points where the suspense is intense as any scene from Psycho.

Perhaps my favourite part of the film was the use of the dog Cuddles as symbology and comic relief. He appears only briefly in the film but every time he graces the screen I smiled and it felt fantastic.

THE BAD

As for the bad points there are a few which should be discussed primarily to do with the poor structure and pacing of the film. The film begins well telling the story visually with the use of minimal title cards to break up the action. Then when it reaches the middle of the film where it is centred on characters conversations it loses all pace and rhythm as title cards interrupt the viewing every few seconds to explain what is going on. This of-course cannot really be helped but it is still rather annoying and distracting.

The main problem however I had with this film was that the two lead women both looked too similar that I found it hard to tell at points which character was Jill and which was Patsy. This became extremely distracting and took me away from the extremely confusing narrative on several occasions.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Ok. Well this section is going to appear each week discussing Hitchcock’s cameo in each film however it turns out he did not start cameos until his third directorial effort so there is nothing to discuss for the pleasure garden.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This film is far from great, it has good moments but it is clear Hitchcock is a long way off achieving the fame he is destined for. I therefore award this film 2 Hitchcocks (basically a start system but with pictures of Hitchcock because it’s all about him).

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Thanks for reading 🙂