1.5/4, 1920s, Alfred Hitchcock, Comedy, Review

Champagne

Champagne (1928) | Diary of A Movie Maniac

#49 in my Ranking of Alfred Hitchcock’s films.

This is an odd little movie that wants to be a comedy but takes its main character to a very, very dark place and doesn’t seem to realize it. The comedic bits are broad, but they’re surprisingly far apart. It’s a weird little movie.

So, The Girl (these characters don’t actually have names) flies her airplane out into the middle of the Atlantic where she intentionally crashes the plane near a steam ship to Europe where her beau is. She’s in open defiance of her father who’s very against the arrangement. She’s a flighty creature who’s willing to crash an airplane in the middle of the Atlantic in order to be close with her beau on a whim. Her beau is shocked by the act, but he’s still pleased to see her, though she immediately starts flirting with another man on the ship, a mustachioed older man while the beau deals with sea sickness.

In Europe, The Girl parties away while the beau looks on with disapproval (making me wonder why they’re together at all), and her father arrives with bad news. His wealth has disappeared overnight, and they have to live in poverty. Both the beau and the older mustachioed man get driven away as the girl and her father begin their new lives living hard scrabble.

The ironic thing is that the father’s lying (we find out fairly early) and the wealth is still there, but he’s putting on a charade in order to drive a wedge between his daughter and the man he considers to be unworthy of her (the beau, he never seems concerned with the mustachioed man for reasons that become clear later). This ends up making literally no sense. But I’ll get to that in a second.

The girl becomes increasingly desperate for money and gets a job in a nightclub. This is where the girl enters an absolutely awful state that the movie doesn’t seem to understand. She’s making tiny bits of money, but a wealthy patron offers her money to prostitute herself, and the nightclub owner encourages it. After just a very brief moment of contemplation, the girl happily agrees. A formerly wealthy heiress has gotten so low that she decides it’s fine to prostitute herself. That’s a cold, dark place, and the movie treats it as just another light and airy moment. It’s, weird.

Well, the secret comes out to the girl that her father isn’t bankrupt when he hands her a newspaper article detailing the scheme. So, the whole world knew except her. I can accept that. It’s a stretch, but I can accept that. What I can’t accept is the beau falling for the ruse. It makes literally no sense that the plan would be on the front page of a major newspaper and he wouldn’t know about it. The ruse was designed to ward him off of her so that she would decide that he’s not worthy of her, but he should know before everything begins that it’s not real.

Anyway, they take a boat back to America where all of this comes out and all four players are onboard. It turns out that the mustachioed man is a friend of the girl’s father and was involved at his behest in another effort to dissuade the beau. But, the beau has proven himself by staying with her, and all ends well.

This movie is really messed up, and it seems to have absolutely no idea. There are comedic bits here and there that a amusing (like the girl hugging the beau with flour covered hands leaving handprints on his back that he doesn’t realize are there), but as a comedy overall, it’s just not that funny. Acting is actually pretty good and it looks good, so there’s that, but it’s simply not enough to recommend it. Another stumble for early Hitchcock.

Rating: 1.5/4

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