Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Scrs: Eliot Stannard, Alfred Hitchcock
Orig Story: Walter C. Maycroft
Pho: John J Cox
Music: Mira Calix (newly composed score)
Prod Co: British International Pictures
Cast: Betty Balfour, Gordon Harker, Jean Bardin, Ferdinand von Alten
1928 / UK / B&W / 35mm / Silent / English Intertitles / 105min / Live Music Accompaniment
An uncharacteristically light comedy for Hitchcock, allegedly inspired by his weakness for the bubbly drink. The director, who was set to make a female version of Downhill but failed to garner a green light from the studio boss, channelled his penchant for humour into a witty rom-com about a frivolous heiress, an unsavoury suitor, and a bigwig father who attempts to break up the love affair by faking bankruptcy. Throwing into the mix is a mysterious man on board the ocean liner. From the cruise glamour to the nightclub buzz in the 1920s world of make-believe, Hitchcock added a useful measure of visual distortions – the film famously begins and ends with a shot through the bottom of a large champagne glass – and stylistic quirks, well balanced with the perfect dosage of verbal humour and slapstick. The stranger’s voyeuristic observation from behind the glass, another emblematic Hitchcock touch, is reminiscent of the sinister-looking James Mason in North by Northwest (1959). Be it voyeurism, the battle of mind games or the omnipresent glare of a foreboding father figure, Champagne makes for an intoxicating blend that keeps the audience tipsy.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
*Post-screening talk with Lau Yam, in Cantonese
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