Week 6 of my year of Hitchcock brings me onto Easy Virtue and as with many of the films before I had no idea what to expect going into this viewing.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

In terms of narrative Easy Virtue is fairly simple to follow. The lead is the young woman Larita (played by Isabel Jeans); at the start of the film she is married to a drunken man who treats her badly, after having an affair with her portrait artist her husband divorces her for adultery. Her reputation ruined she flees to the French Riveria in hopes of avoiding judgemental eyes. Once here she meets John an amiable rich man who instantly falls for her and before long they are married. Larita doesn’t tell John of her past scared it will force him to leave her, and so they return to England. When Larita meets John’s parents is when the film begins to take form. John’s mother is certain that Larita is not trustworthy and spends her time turning the family against her. Ultimately she realises who Larita is and John divorces Larita so he can marry young village girl Sarah with whom he has probably been having an affair.

 

THE GOOD

To start with the good of this film and if I’m honest there wasn’t much, this being in my opinion being one of the poorer films I have seen.

The film opens with some pure voyeurism which is nice and Hitchcockian. We see things with a blurry point-of-view shot from a judge in court. As he holds up a monocle the image focuses. The effect of this is really nice and is a good way of establishing that the judge is in charge of his court. It’s just a shame that apart from this shot the judge doesn’t do too much.

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Another good point is the performance of the lead lady. She is very good at pulling off the unlucky lady whose lost her reputation and has a few moments of fantastic acting.

I also enjoyed the themes of the film i.e that it revolved around ruined reputation and how slander could destroy a person. Being based on a Noel Coward play the film really should have been better as Coward is notorious for writing plays that show ruined reputation well.

THE BAD

The film is very poorly paced and confusing throughout. The exposition takes too long and the use of flashbacks just bewildered me as I had no idea what was really going on. No characters apart from Larita  where fully established and too many title-cards gave the film an incredibly clunky effect.

My other issue is one that has seemed fairly common in these early Hitchcock films is that the story does not allow Hitchcock to develop any tension, most of Hitchcock’s latter films and more famous ones generally revolve around some sort of event i.e. a man on the run (North by North-west) or a witness to a murder (Rear Window) and this allows lots of tension to be built something which Hitchcock is extremely good at. In Easy Virtue there is no such place for tension there are a few moments which are borderline tense but lacking in substance.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

In the second cameo of his career Hitchcock is seen near the start of the film carrying a tennis racket.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Easy Virtue is the most disappointing film I have seen so far in this challenge. It was quite simply dull and uninteresting with very few classic Hitch moments and almost nothing memorable. Therefore I regret to award this film a meagre one Hitch.  

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