"Champagne" (1928)

Reviewed at the London Hippodrome August 20, 1928
Produced by British International Pictures LTD.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Based on a story by Walter Mycroft and Alfred Hitchcock
Censor certificate "U"
Running time 84 minutes.

Cast: Betty Balfour, Gordon Harker, Jean Bradin, Ferdinand von Allen.

Bad Reviews

Variety, September 12, 1928, " If J. D. Williams is going to release British pictures in America he will have to get some better than this. The story is of the weakest, an excuse for covering 7,000 feet of harmless celluloid with legs and close-ups. Be a female star ever so good, and Betty Balfour is not even seen here at her best - no audience is going to stand for nine-tenths of a film being devoted to her doing nothing in particular. That's what happens here, with no other woman in the cast, and three men who are indeterminate in character and badly directed. ... Gordon Harker is supposed to be a "Champagne King," whatever that is, but the film shows him, both in action and captains as a character of Hollywood's idea of a successful New York business man. His daughter wants to marry a boulevard cake-eater, and poppa disagrees. The boyfriend gets sore at Betty taking a high hand just because poppa has dough, and she gets sore at him for getting sore, throws him down, and plays around with a nasty-looking middle-ager. In Paris she throws wild parties. Then father tells her he's broke, so they go to live in a hovel while she goes to work in a cabaret to keep the home fires burning. Technically -setting, photography and lighting - it's as good as they come. But the story, the direction and the acting are dire. Betty Balfour has a thankless role and far too many close-ups. As champagne, it's the kind of wine they sell to boobs in Soho."

Betty Balfour

Betty Balfour was one of Britain's most popular silent film comediennes and was known as the Mary Pickford of England. She made the transition to the soundies, and in the 30's she went to make occasional talkies.

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock, the son of a English poultry dealer, had a diversified career as a young man prior to entering the motion picture industry. He attended a Jesuit school, studied mechanics, electricity, acoustics, and navigation. In 1918 he entered the job market, worked for a telegraph company as a technical estimator of electric cables, took night art courses at the University
Of London which helped him to get transferred to the telegraph company advertising department as a sketch artist. In 1920 he entered the film industry as a designer of titles for the London branch of Famous Players-Lasky. Hitchcock, who gained his expierence as art and assistant director with George Fitzmaurice and other visiting American crews, was one of the top-line British directors.

"One of the worst arguments for British films in the past has been-the British film," the English fan magazine Picturegoer remarked with surprisingly candor. It is a tragedy that this period (silent era) of filmmaking, glittering with achievement elsewhere, should have remained as dour and fog-enshrouded as it did in England.

A British critic, Hugh Castle, commented and dismissed the film as being champagne that was left in the rain all night.

The plot of "Champagne" bears quite a bit of resemblance to the Austernprinzessin that was directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1910.

Sources: The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz
The Parades Gone By by Kevin Brownlow.

copyright 2002 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

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