CHAMPAGNE (director/writer: Alfred Hitchcock; screenwriters: Eliot Stannard/from novel by Walter C. Mycroft; cinematographer: Jack Coc; editor: ; music: ; cast: Betty Balfour (Betty), Jean Bradin (The Boy), Gordon Harker (Betty’s Father), Clifford Heatherley (The Manager), Jack Trevor (The Officer); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Maxwell; AFA Entertainment; 1928-silent-UK)
“Failed to get me tipsy.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Champagne was made in both English and German versions. This early silent Alfred Hitchcock (“The Ring”/”The Lodger”/”The Farmer’s Wife”) lightweight comedy (plenty of sight gags, especially about drunks) failed to get me tipsy. It’s about the spoiled daughter, Betty (Betty Balfour), of a champagne brewer millionaire (Gordon Harker) known as the “champagne king.” The displeased daddy teaches his daughter a lesson after she runs away on a luxury liner from New York to Paris to elope with her gold digger boyfriend (Jean Bradin). After Betty’s ocean liner arrives in Paris, daddy meets his surprised daughter there and makes up a story that he’s broke. Daddy reasons her boyfriend will run off when he finds her broke. To help daddy out in his time of need his assertive daughter gets a job as a flower girl in a cabaret, where she accidentally meets her boyfriend and a sophisticated guy (Jack Trevor) from the boat who made a pass at her. After one night of work in the swinging nightclub, Betty reunites with daddy and her uptight boyfriend. Daddy now gives them permission to tie the knot, after telling her the sophisticated guy was hired by him to keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn’t marry on the boat.
It’s co-written by Hitchcock and Eliot Stannard, and is based on a novel by Walter C. Mycroft. Hitchcock spent five years at Elstree, where he made ten films. None of them memorable.
The slight story is tedious and none of the characters are likable, but Hitchcock adds some fine visual touches to at least keep it watchable (like the crowded long nightclub scene and the one where Betty dressed in a leather aviatrix outfit lands in a seaplane alongside an ocean liner to make her grand entrance for the trip across the Atlantic). It serves best as a guide to the behavior of the party-set during the Roaring Twenties.
To his credit, even Hitchcock didn’t like this film.
REVIEWED ON 9/25/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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