Country United Kingdom
Director Alfred Hitchcock
Story by Walter C. Mycroft
|Language silent film
Writer Walter C. Mycroft, Eliot Stannard, Alfred Hitchcock
Release date 20 August 1928 (1928-08-20)
Screenplay Alfred Hitchcock, Eliot Stannard
Cast Betty Balfour (Betty), Gordon Harker (Mark), Jean Bradin (The Boy), Ferdinand von Alten (The Man), Fanny Wright
Similar movies The Super, The Magic Christian
Champagne 1928 the glass
Champagne is a 1928 British silent comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Betty Balfour, Gordon Harker and Jean Bradin. The screenplay was based on an original story by writer and critic Walter C. Mycroft. The film is about a young woman forced to get a job after her father tells her he has lost all his money.
The Heiress Betty (Betty Balfour) draws the ire of her father after using his aeroplane to fly to her boyfriend (Jean Braden) on an ocean liner headed to France. French customs obviously, at the time, were not favorable to such behaviors. Even for daughters of wealthy men in the Champagne business. Marriage, in France, has always been preferred to casual relationships.
Always uneasy due to seasickness, Betty's boyfriend is unable to dine with her. She notices a man watching her. He had been (briefly) watching her from a far, and sits to talk with her. Betty receives a telegram from her father who disapprovingly warns her the boyfriend is not going to be admired by her friends. To prove her father wrong she asks the boyfriend for his hand in marriage. A quarrel ensues during the trip and the two part company when it's over. The boyfriend regrets the fight and goes to Betty to apologize. He finds her excellence in chess, during a game with the mysterious man, to be quite surprising (he never took interest in her hobbies.) Another quarrel between the two is interrupted by the arrival of Betty's father (Gordon Harker). He tells Betty the family fortune, earned in the "champagne" business, has been wiped out in the stock market. The boyfriend leaves after hearing the news of their fortune. The father sees this as proof the boyfriend is only after money.
Betty decides to sell her jewellery but is robbed en route to the jewellers. Now penniless Betty and her father move into a small shabby apartment. Unbeknownst to Betty her father sneaks out to eat at an expensive restaurant after her cooking proves to be terrible. Once again her boyfriend tries for a reconciliation but is rebuked by Betty, who now thinks her father is right about the boyfriend and vows to get a job.
Betty finds work at a swank restaurant. Soon the mysterious man shows up and invites Betty to his table. She becomes uncomfortable with the stranger and is relieved when her boyfriend once again arrives. The mysterious man leaves after handing her a note that advises her to call him if she ever needs any help. The boyfriend openly disapproves of Betty's job. He leaves after a still angry Betty dances wildly to provoke him.
The boyfriend soon returns with Betty's father. He is outraged at Betty's "unseemly" job and confesses he lied about the loss of their fortune to teach her a lesson. Rather than being pleased, Betty is further angered by both the father and the boyfriend. She turns to the mysterious man who offers to take Betty back to America. Betty gladly accepts but is later horrified to find she has been locked in her cabin. She imagines the worst about the mysterious man's intentions and is both relieved and delighted when her boyfriend arrives yet again and releases her from the cabin. They soon reconcile.
The boyfriend hides in the bathroom when they hear the mysterious man approaching. He enters with her father who confesses he hired the man to follow and protect her. The boyfriend is furious and comes forth to attack the man. Betty's father pacifies the boyfriend's anger by telling him he no longer disapproves of their wedding. The reunited couple start discussing the wedding when once again another argument starts.
Hitchcock's attempt at a change of pace with a comedy was poorly received when released. Although his expanding visual technique continued to draw recognition and praise, they were not enough to distract the audience from the film's lack of usual suspenseful plot lines. The "mysterious man" at the beginning of the film proved to be misleading, which further displeased the audience.
Variety, although impressed with the technical aspects, was dismissive of the film. The reviewer felt "The story is of the weakest, an excuse for covering 7,000 feet of harmless celluloid with legs and close-ups".
Hitchcock would later voice his unhappiness with the film in François Truffaut's book-length interview Hitchcock/Truffaut. Hitchcock told Truffaut "The film had no story to tell".
After being thought in the public domain for decades, the film's rights were obtained by French media company Canal+ in 2005.
ReferencesChampagne (1928 film) Wikipedia
Champagne (film) IMDbChampagne (film) Rotten TomatoesChampagne (1928 film) themoviedb.org