The Pleasure Garden (1925)


(director: Alfred Hitchcock; screenwriters: from the novel by Oliver Sandys/Eliot Staannard; cinematographer: Gaetano di Ventimiglia; music: Lee Erwin; cast: Virginia Valli (Patsy), Carmelita Geraghty (Jill), Miles Mander (Levet), John Stuart (Hugh Fielding), Ferd Martini (Mr. Sidey), Florence Helminger (Mrs. Sidey), George Snell (Oscar Hamilton), C. Falkenberg (Prince Ivan), Nita Naldi (Native girl); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Michael Balcon/Erich Pommer; Network; 1925-silent-UK/Germany)
It’s a standard romantic drama, with no other interest except it’s the Master’s beginning.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

By the age of twenty-five Alfred Hitchcock (“Psycho”/”Rear Window”/”Vertigo”)worked his way up the studio system from title designer to be given his first solo feature film to direct by his promoterMichael Balcon, the film’s producer. It’s an English-German co-produced film, shot in London, Munich and Lake Como, Italy. It’s a standard romantic drama, with no other interest except it’s the Master’s beginning. It was restored in 1966 and added a musical score by Lee Erwin.

It’s based on the novel byOliver Sandys (her real names was Marguerite Florence Barclay) and is written by Eliot Stannard.

Nice girl Patsy Brand (Virginia Valli) is a chorus girl at the Pleasure Garden music hall. When Jill Cheyne (Carmelita Geraghty) comes to London to get a job as a dancer, she loses all her money to a pickpocket and the sympathetic Patsy gets her a tryout with her Pleasure Garden boss Mr. Hamilton (George Snell) and lets her share her small flat.

Jill turns out to be a cunning social climber who works her way up the chorus girl ladder and moves out of the flat, becoming the kept woman of a Russian aristocrat (C. Falkenberg). Jill snubs her sincere fiance Hugh Fielding (John Stuart), who goes to serve two years working on a plantation in the Far East. Meanwhile Patsy is courted by Hugh’s plantation colleague Levet (Miles Mander), who visited London with Hugh. She marries him despite not being in love with him and that her dog Cuddles doesn’t like him. After they honeymoon in Lake Como, Levet leaves her in London and returns to his native girl mistress on the plantation. After not hearing from him for a long time, Levet finally writes he’s sick. Wishing to be with her hubby in his time of need, she asks her now rich former roommate Jill for a loan to buy boat passage but is snubbed, but her kindly landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Sidey, loan her the cash and she sails to the plantation. There she finds hubby with his native mistress and calls him a “filthy animal.” Patsy remains to nurse Hugh back to health from the fever. When her crazed lunatic hubby kills his mistress and then attempts to kill his wife, Hugh fatally shoots the wacko and the couple return to London to marry.

The Pleasure Garden contains ideas (on voyeurism, sexual violence & lust), images (influenced by German expressionism) and contrasts (use of symbolism) that H. used in his later films. It moves from a theatrical setting to an exotic locale. It might be thought of as a Hitchcockian film, but it lacks the power of his later films and only contains a few of his noteworthy signature technical touches.