"The Pleasure Garden" (1926)

aka "Irrgarten der Leidenschaft"

"I had to meet you because I was charmed by that lovely curl of hair."

Produced by Gainsborough-Emelka
Producer: Michael Balcon
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Length: 6478 feet or approximately 75 minutes when released in England
Distributed by Wardour & F and Aymon Independent
Based on a novel by Oliver Sands.

Cast: Virginia Valli, Carmelita Geraghty, John Stuart, C. Falkenburg, Florence Helminger, Miles Mander, Frederick Martini, Nita Naldi, G.H. Schnell, and George Schnell.


A melodrama which involves chorus girls, marriages, honeymoons, affairs, jealousy, adultery, murder and suicide, all rolled into one odd film. It relates the misadventures of a chorus girl, Patsy Brand (Virginia Valli) who gets a part in the chorus for her friend Jill Cheyne (Carmelita Geraghty), a young girl who lets her success go to her head. Jill breaks with her fiancé Hugh Fielding (John Stuart) who is in the Tropics. Our heroine, Patsy, marries Levett (Miles Mander), a friend of Hugh, and later Levett also goes to the Tropics to seek his fortune. When Patsy goes to visit her husband in the Tropics, she finds her husband, Levett, living a dissolute and adulterous life with a native girl (Nita Naldi).

Poor Reviews

The reviews that it received in the United States weren't very favorable, and years later Alfred Hitchcock preferred not to talk about those two early films he made in Germany.

Photoplay, January 1927: "A foreign picture. And 'can they make wiener schnitzels? Yes, they can make wiener schnitzels.' Two American girls - Virginia Valli and Carmelita Geraghty - got into this one by mistake."

Variety, November 3, 1926, "A sappy chorus picture, probably intended for the sappy sticks where they still fall for this sort of a chorus girl story. Those are about the only places which could use 'The Pleasure Garden,' other than the one-dayers and Loew's New York, a one-dayer doubled up with 'Dangerous Friends,' even worse."

In 1925 Michael Balcon joined with the German director Erich Pommer to produce "The Blackguard," and that was followed by two other ("The Pleasure Garden" and "The Mountain Eagle") films in collaboration with one of the large German studios, the Emelka Company, at its Munich studios. Both films were directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

John Stuart

John Stuart (1898-1979), aka John Croall, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, began his stage and screen career directly after serving as an officer with The Black Watch regiment during the Great War. At the end of the war, Stuart had a concert party for his regiment, and, almost by accident, he was invited to play an extra in the Old Vic production of "The Trojan Women." Sybil Thorndike was the star, and all Stuart had to do was to hold her firmly by the arms as she struggled to get free. The role enabled him to tell an agent that he had been "supporting" the actress, and he secured a role as a juvenile lead in a theatrical touring company. Stuart made his screen debut in 1919, and his first screen credit was in "Her Son" (1920). He was a very popular leading man in British silent films, and he starred in many very popular films in the 20's including "A Sporting Double" (1923), "Constant Hot Water" (1924), and the "Tower of London" (1926). Between 1923 and 1924 he was on the West End stage in Somerset Maugham's play, "Our Betters." He made a smooth transition into the sound era, and he matured into character parts, playing government officials and police inspectors. One of his last appearances was a tiny role in one of the Superman movies (1978). During his long career, his partners on the screen included Fay Compton, Madeleine Carroll, Betty Balfour, Florence Turner and Lillian Hall-Davis. Stuart appeared in over 149 feature films, and 43 of them were silents. An accomplished writer, John Stuart penned his autobiography, "Caught in the Act," in 1971. He can be seen in one other silent film, "Blackmail" (1929).

Sir Michael Balcon

Sir Michael Balcon (1896-1977), born in Birmingham, England, left school at the age of 17 and was an apprentice in diamond buying for a manufacturing jeweler. He was rejected by the British military during the Great War because of an eye problem, and he went to work for the Dunlap Rubber Company as a personal assistant to a managing director. In 1919, after two years with Dunlap, he set up a film distribution company, Victory Motion Pictures, with Victor Saville. In 1922, with Victor Saville and John Freedman, they went into independent film producing in London, and their first release was "Woman to Woman" directed by Graham Cutts in 1923. Balcon assigned young Alfred Hitchcock to serve as his art director, screenwriter, and assistant director, and Balcon also gave Hitchcock his first job as a director. In 1928, Balcon with Cutts founded Gainsborough Pictures and purchased Paramount's Islington Studios. Three years later, Balcon was appointed director of production for Gaumont-British, and three years after that, he began working for MGM-British. While doing all this, Balcon also produced several important British films, including the early works of Hitchcock. From the late thirties to the late fifties, he worked as director and chief of production for Ealing Studios where he produced the infamous Ealing comedies. He formed Bryanston Films in 1959, and later during a notorious battle for control, took over British Lion studios. In 1948, Balcon was knighted. Twenty years later his autobiography, "A Lifetime of Films," was published. He produced his last feature film in 1961. A few of his silent features are available including "Easy Virtue" (1927), and "The Lodger" (1926).

Miles Mander

Miles Mander (1888-1946) born Lionel Mander in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England, the son of a manufacturer, educated at Harrow and MacGill University in Montreal. He began life as a sheep herder in New Zealand. Tiring of sheep farming, he turned to aviation, motor car racing, novelist, playwright and film exhibitor upon his return to England in 1918. He began his screen career as an extra in crowd scenes, and he obtained a bit role in "A Temporary Lady" (1920). He worked for the major English and European studios including Gainsborough, Gaumont, Nelson, BIP and Paramount. Eventually he would gain recognition with "First Born" in 1928, which he directed and acted in and which was based on his own novel and play. He is better remembered, however, for his portrayals of sleazy characters under the pseudonym Luther Miles. In the early 30's, Miles appeared in a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, "The Missing Rembrandt." Also in the cast was the future James Bond creator, Ian Fleming. During the early 30's, he wrote the scenario to the film, "The Morals of Marcus," which was directed by his daughter. He continued playing character roles into the sound era, and he made his Hollywood debut in portraying King Louis XIII in the 1935 version of "The Three Musketeers." In Hollywood he played character roles for Fox, Universal and other studios until his death.

Virginia Valli

Virginia Valli (1898-1968), born Virginia McSweeney in Chicago, began her stage career with a Milwaukee stock company. She entered the film industry doing a bit part in "In The Valley of the Kings" (1915). In 1917 she worked briefly for Essanay in Chicago and then returned to the stage. About three years later she was brought out to Hollywood to act as leading lady to Bert Lytell. Virginia would continue to appear in films throughout the decade, and she would be an established star at Universal by the mid 20's. The bulk of her films would be between 1924 and 1927. She worked for various studios including Essnay, Pathé, First National, Universal, MGM and Fox. While she had no trouble adjusting to sound in "Isle of Lost Ships" (1929), which she made at First National, her big salary and declining appeal both conspired to end her film career. Unable to find a suitable studio, she would make her last film, "The Last Zeppelin" (1930) at Tiffany Studios. In 1931, she married Charles Farrell and retired from the screen to live in Beverly Hills before moving to Palm Springs. She can be seen in only a few of her silent films such as "Wild Oranges."

Nita Naldi

Nita Naldi (1899-1961) born Anita Dooley in New York City. She was a tempestuous, highly popular, raven-haired lead actress of Hollywood silents of the 20's and was usually cast as a vamp or villainess. She broke into films in 1920 after some success with the Ziegfeld Follies. She is best remembered as the temptress opposite Valentino in "Blood and Sand" (1922). Naldi retired from the screen in 1928 but went on to star on Broadway and, much later, work on TV. She can be seen in "Cobra" (1925), "The Ten Commandments" (1923), "The Man from Beyond" (1922), "Blood and Sand" (1922), and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1920).

Hitchcock by Eric Rohmer & Claude Chabrol
The World Film Encyclopedia by Clarence Winchester
Who Was Who On Screen by Evelyn Mack Truitt
The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz
Encyclopedia of European Cinema by Ginette Vincendeau
The Silent Picture (vol. 14 Spring 1972).

copyright 2002 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

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