Long-time readers would be aware of our ongoing Hitchcock film project, in which we’re reviewing all the films of Alfred Hitchcock’s directorial career. We began with Hitch’s silent films in which he’s credited as director – his work in film started in 1920, with a lost short film called The Great Day, and his first credited director film was 1925’s The Pleasure Garden, following several years as a title designer and assistant director.
Of the 9 silent films Hitch was credited with directing, one is considered lost (The Mountain Eagle – 1927), while the others exist in various states of quality – but we’ve finally seen them all. And now that we’ve finally published all our reviews for them, we thought now was as good a time as any to list the ones we think you should see, the ones you can throw on on a rainy day, and the ones you can skip altogether. (Links to review in the film’s title below.)
The Lodger – Hitch’s second feature in the director’s chair is his best silent film, period. Evocative, stunning, with a great mystery storyline and some dynamite direction, The Lodger represents early Hitch at his absolute peak.
Champagne – For it’s comedic overtones and sense of humor, Champage is vintage Hitchcock, and a film capturing a period of cinema like no other. With a solid cast (but a diffident storyline, if I’m honest), Champagne is most definitely worth a look.
The Manxman – A more recent watch for me that I found really engaging: its love-triangle aspect was generic but Hitch’s direction, and a luminous Anny ondra performance really elevated this one for me. Technically precise and always watchable, even when the story kinda sputters, The Manxman was the surprise package of Hitch’s silent films for me.
Rainy Day Stuff
The Ring – Worth a look if only for Hitch’s visual technical brilliance. The story is naff, the characters meh, but the way Hitch films it is definitely not to be underestimated.
The Farmer’s Wife – What might have been a faily light comedic jaunt for Hitch ends up an interminable chore. A silent film clocking in at over two hours is something you need a stiff drink for, especially if the story, or the characters, or the acting, aren’t really working for you.
The Pleasure Garden – Although it’s Hitch’s first credit as the main director, The Pleasure Garden suffers from just being ordinary. Lacking pizazz, lacking pace, lacking a real sense of style behind the camera, I really found this film to be a bit of a waste.
Downhill – Yeah….. nope. Title says it all, really.
Easy Virtue – Bland, bland, bland. Lacking any kind of visual tenacity, Easy Virtue is a middling story and, frankly, a middling effort from Hitch.
© 2015, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.