Project Hitch took a short hiatus last week due to a most unfun sinus infection but I’m back this week, feeling much better and ready to do double duty Hitchcock wise. The first film I’m going to be talking about is the 1928 silent production, Champagne.
Staring the very likeable Betty Balfour as our heroine, (also named Betty) we follow what feels like quite a modern story. I can easily see this plot being adapted into a modern romantic comedy. There’s nothing too taxing or indeed, interesting about the story but the affable and exciting Betty coupled with some beautiful, very recognisably Hitchcock shots make for a most enjoyable hour and a half.
The movie starts with the impulsive Betty sinking her father’s plane in the Atlantic so she could meet up with her boyfriend on a luxury cruise liner. Betty’s sense of fun and frivolity aside we are also soon accustomed with her temper in relation to her boyfriend. The two, while clearly in love are also prone to passionate and unnecessary arguments.
The story kicks off properly once Betty and her boy get engaged on board, only to find themselves arguing yet again. As it turns out, Betty’s rich father is worried that the boy is only after his money and has a friend of his keep an eye on the pair throughout the film but the major conflict arrives when Betty’s father in an attempt to change Betty’s frivolous ways, tells her (falsely) that their fortunes are gone and her partying days are over. This is where the character of Betty becomes much more interesting to me.
Up until this point Betty seemed sweet but quite selfish; however, upon learning that her father’s money has supposedly dried up, she automatically tries to sell her jewels to help out (only to have them stolen but the thought was there). She goes on to attempt to keep house, learning (and failing) to cook her father’s meals, wear much less extravagant clothes and be more self-sufficient in general and when the boyfriend returns and offers to take her away from the paupers life she’s found herself in, she refuses to turn from her father in his time of need and opts instead to join the working world.
Betty doesn’t exactly succeed in any of her ambitious or thoughtful exploits but she becomes a much more likeable character for having tried. The film comes to its conclusions with Betty learning of her father’s deceits in regards to their still intact fortunes and the mysterious man she keeps bumping into. She takes the truth with good humour and continues her engagement with her quarrelling boyfriend. In essence, all is once again right with the world as far as Betty is concerned.
|Betty comically going cross-eyed at the news of her father's deceit|
Champagne, while obviously not ground-breaking, was a wholly enjoyable romp. Betty Balfour brought a sweetness and likability to her role that could have easily been absent in another’s hands. Hitchcock’s camera tricks, in regards to the ever present champagne bottles and glasses, was a lovely touch, making for a memorable movie experience. As far as I’m concerned, Champagne has been the most enjoyable #ProjectHitch film in weeks. Completely recommend.
Join me later in the week when I talk about the last of Hitchcock’s silent films, The Manxman.