Today’s movie is bit of a treat for me. See, not only is it another Hitchcock movie, but it is one of his early silent films. Now I have seen several of Hitchcock’s movie but I have never seen any of his silent films. Now I will admit that they are not my normal cup of tea, I enjoy watching silent movies every now and then because you have to figure out the story mostly from the acting since there is no real dialogue. So let’s see what story can be found in today’s movie, Champagne (1928).
The plot: A wealthy man is reading the newspapers and sees a story about his rebellious daughter using his airplane to fly out to join her boyfriend on an ocean liner. The plane lands in the water near the ship and a life boat is sent out to pick up the young woman and the pilot. A crowd gathers on deck to watch the events and the woman spots her boyfriend in the crowd but doesn’t say anything as she heads off with the captain to get a cabin. As the woman gets settled into her cabin, the boyfriend goes looking for her and finally finds her cabin, passing a man who had been keeping an eye on the woman. Later, the boyfriend takes the woman out around the ship and they start to go out on the deck but it is too windy so they quickly head back inside. The boyfriend moves to give her his coat but they encounter the man, who offers the woman his coat and after putting it on, the woman and her boyfriend head outside, with the man watching them from the door as the boyfriend proposes to the woman and she accepts. As the journey continues, the boyfriend ends up getting seasick so the woman spends more time with the mystery man, which makes the boyfriend jealous. As the woman and the man eat dinner, the woman receives a telegram from her father, who warns her that her boyfriend will not be looked at favorably among their peers. The woman heads back to the cabin to show her boyfriend the telegram and tell him that she arranged for the Captain to marry them but the boyfriend gets upset that she didn’t talk to him about it. The two continue arguing and the woman takes off the ring and throws it to the ground, saying she won’t let the boyfriend ruin her trip. After arriving in Paris, the boyfriend tracks down the woman, who hasn’t contacted him in a week, and they reconcile. The woman introduces him to several people she has befriended, including the mystery man from the ship. When the woman starts showing off some of the fancy dresses she bought, the boyfriend tells her he prefers a more simplistic look so she mocks him by changing into a simple black dress with a scarf over her head. This causes them to have another argument and the woman starts speaking to the man on the boat. Some time later, the woman’s father shows up at the house and speaks privately with his daughter, telling her that they are now broke. The woman heads back to where the party guests are and has them leave, then tells her boyfriend about how she is now broke before leaving with her father. The woman decides to try and sell her jewelry to make some money but she ends up being robbed on the way. The woman and her father share an apartment and she cooks a meal for them but her cooking is barely edible so her father sneaks out and goes to eat at a fancy restaurant. The boyfriend shows up at the apartment and the two embrace but when the boyfriend offers to take the woman away from there, they get into another argument as the woman says she can’t leave her father now and that she has her pride so the boyfriend leaves, saying that she can’t live off of pride. The woman decides to go looking for a job and ends up being employed by a fancy restaurant to handout flowers to gentleman to place in their suit’s front pocket. While she is working, the mystery man sees her and invites her to sit at her table. While they are there, the woman’s imagination runs wild and she imagines the stranger trying to have his way with her but she laughs it off. When the boyfriend arrives, the woman sees him and invites him to sit with them. The mystery man leaves after a little while and gives the woman a note for to call him if she needs help. As the woman and the boyfriend continue talking, the woman admits that she works at the restaurant, and the boyfriend doesn’t approve and gets upset and after another argument ensues, he leaves. A short while later, the boyfriend returns with the woman’s father, who admits to the woman that they are not broke but he simply lied about it in order to teach her a lesson. The woman is happy to find out she is no longer poor, but grows angry at both her father and her boyfriend for how they treated her and leaves. She heads to the home of the mystery man, who says he is heading to America and she asks that he take her with him. They make their way onto a ship heading to America but when the man leaves, he locks the woman in the cabin. The woman tries to get out and when the door opens, hits the man over the head, only to realize that she hit her boyfriend, who was there to save her. As the two talk, the door starts to open so the boyfriend hides in the bathroom. The mystery man enters as does the woman’s father, who reveals that he hired the man to keep her from eloping with her boyfriend. The boyfriend emerges from the bathroom and starts fighting with the man but the father, along with a waiter, separates them and has the boyfriend and the man shake hands, and gives his approval for the boyfriend to marry his daughter. The boyfriend and woman embrace and the woman starts making plans but as another argument starts to occur, the boyfriend quickly stops it by kissing the woman.
Champagne (1928) met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics enjoyed the performance of Betty Balfour and Hitchcock’s skill at comedy. When the movie was first released, it was poorly received as the audience expected some more suspenseful story lines. Hitchcock himself would late voice his displeasure with the film, saying it “had no story to tell”.
This was an interesting movie to watch. The acting was ok, with Betty Balfour doing a good job going through various emotions that her character needed to play but the other characters were somewhat one-dimensional and bland. The story was somewhat entertaining but the majority of the comedy was in background actions, such as the woman arguing with her father at the restaurant, and thus continually preventing a man from coming down the stairs as he can’t through their constant movements. As to the main story, it could be considered Hitchcock poking fun at some of the eccentricities of the wealthy. It’s an interesting movie but I personally prefer Hitchcock’s thrillers.
Rating: 2 out of 5