BEFORE: 4 Hitchcock films down after tonight, with just 46 to go. Ugh, I think I know how the moviegoers felt in the early days of cinema, namely they couldn't WAIT for dialogue to be added so they could finally hear what everyone was saying, instead of reading it. Watching everyone's lips moving as they chatter at each other is so tedious, after all.
Linking from "The Farmer's Wife", Lillian Davis-Hall was also in "The Ring" with Ian Hunter, who shows up again tonight.
AFTER: Again, it seems a little weird that Hitchcock was so concerned with these relationship sort of issues. This film's all about how society treated people who got divorced back in the day, and how this affected a woman's image and her next relationship.
It opens in the middle of a divorce trial, with barristers in powdered wigs and all that - geez, these days you just sign divide up your assets, sign your name on a piece of paper, and that's about it. Back then you had to go to court, and your photo appeared in the society page, and it was a big mark on your reputation. The trial scenes were a bit confusing, because everyone was called the "co-respondent" or the "plaintiff's counsel" and so forth.
Here's a case where a flashback scene really helped clarify things - our heroine, Larita, was posing for a portrait, and the artist got a little grabby, and her husband got jealous. Tempers flared and one man ended up shooting the other - not fatally, but clearly the damage was done to the relationship. I guess you didn't stay married to a woman once she'd been sullied by a common artist.
She moves to France, which of course is the best place to meet another English gentleman. Things seem to work out with her new love, until they go back to England and she has to contend with his family, and after his mother recognizes her from the newspapers, it's all downhill from there.
This is based on a Noel Coward play, and clearly standards were different in the early 20th century, but like today, it seems everyone drew the line in their own place. Divorce was technically legal and adultery probably wasn't, but come on, everyone just went around doing whatever they wanted and then it all got sorted out later, right? But Coward is known for his witty dialogue, and it's just a shame that we can't hear any of it due to the technical limits of film at the time.
Like "The Lodger", this film got remade a few years ago, this time with dialogue and music and such, and it seems like the remake started the story in a different place - with Larita meeting John in France, and then dealing with his family. She mentions being married before, but the scandalous details are not seen by the audience until John's family also learns them. Structurally, this seems like a bolder and better choice, to make her shocking past feel like a real shock.
Also starring Isabel Jeans, Robin Irvine, Enid Stamp-Taylor, Franklin Dyall, Eric Bransby Williams, Violet Farebrother.
RATING: 4 out of 10 tennis courts