Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Pleasure Garden (1925)

Hitchcock's first film, made in Germany with English/German financial backing, and a mix of English and American actors. Hitchcock didn't like it and wanted audiences to consider The Lodger as the first true Hitchcock film, but I thought this was a terrific movie. The melodramatic plot, about two chorus girls and their up-and-down love lives, is silly but it moves fast and plenty happens. The acting is fun; in particular, Miles Mander as an emaciated alcoholic who marries one of the showgirls, is truly disgusting, twitching and sweaty as he murders the native girl that he's taken as a second wife in the tropics. Her ghostly presence haunts him, emerging out from the mosquito netting in his bedroom.

The opening sequence of the film is pure Hitchcock, as scantily clad chorus girls strut onto the stage, and Hitchcock films the leering men in the front row, voyeuristically watching, and practically licking their chops. There is also a good amount of humor interspersed in the plot, including the true star of the film, Cuddles, a mutt owned by one of the chorus girls.

Interesting to note that Alma Reville (her and Hitchcock became engaged during the filming of The Pleasure Garden) gets a credit as an assistant director in this film. Below, Cuddles (sadly, the dog's true name has been lost to film history).


  1. I’ve seen the poster for this one, which has intriguing artwork, and the fact that this is an early Hitchcock has always given the film a bit of mystique for me. I am also interested in seeing this film because one of the actresses, Virginia Valli, was married to silent film actor Charles Farrell (best known for STREET ANGEL, THE RED DANCE and THE RIVER). I’m encouraged to hear that you enjoyed the film, but I’m wondering if you saw this screened in a theater or is it available on a DVD release?

  2. This is not an easy film to see, as it turns out. There is a DVD version but it's only region 2 so you cannot watch it in the states (I don't know where you live). My version magically appeared on my computer via something called a download--I don't feel too guilty because I'm not sure there was any way for me to legally see it.

    Virginia Valli was very good.