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Variety (1928) - Champagne






Produced by British International Pictures, Ltd. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Distributed in the U. K. by Wardour Films, Ltd.; in America by the World Wide Film, Corp. through Educational Exchanges. Story by Walter Mycroft and Alfred Hitchcock. Scenario by Elliot Stannard. Photography by Jack Cox. Censors certificate "U." Previewed at the London Hippodrome Aug. 20. Running time, 84 minutes.

Betty, daughter of a Champagne King — Betty Balfour
The Champagne King — Gordon Harker
The Boy — Jean Bradin
The Cosmopolitan — Ferdinand von Alten

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 or harmless celluloid with legs and close-ups.

Be a female star ever so good — and Betty Balfour is not 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.

Two versions of the story are given — one in the press book and another in a v. p. folder. Neither has much resemblance to the story on the screen, which is really an advantage to the literature.

Gordon Harker is supposed to be a "Champagne King," whatever that is, but the film shows him, both in action and captions, as a caricature of Hollywood's idea of a successful New York business man. His daughter wants to marry a boulevard cake-eater, and poppa disagrees. The lover sails on the Aquitania (spelled throughout with a "c"), and Betty follows in a plane, which she crashes In the path of the liner. At this point the film commences on the screen.

The boy friend 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 gives wild parties. Then father tells her he's broke, so they go to live in a hovel while she gets work in a cabaret to keep the home fires burning. Boy friend finds her there and goes to fetch poppa. Meantime, fed up with the life, she asks the bad man of the boat, who has turned up again, to take her to America. When she finds he has booked a double berth on the liner she gets cold feet, but boy friend arrives to rescue her, and they both find bad man is a friend of father's who has been framed by him to teach her a lesson.

Technically — settings, 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 a New York business man Gordon Harker Is a wild burlesque of a Sinclair Lewis complex. Von Alten looks good and plays quietly and well, but has a silly part. As champagne, it's the kind of wine they sell to boobs in Soho.