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The Observer (14/Apr/1926) - The Pleasure Garden

(c) The Observer (14/Apr/1926)


Patsy is a chorus girl and good. Jill is a country maid and terribly wicked. Jill joins the show, forsakes the swain to whom she swore to be true, runs through a succession of protectors, finally landing a prince and even a wedding-ring. Patsy marries the swain’s friend, is deserted by him after a Como holiday, and, despite some misadventure, ends up with the swain himself.

Mr. Hitchcock, the young English director, is here saddled with a complicated story, and, while its raggedness has in the main overcome him, he has made some of it, so interesting as to make one eager and optimistic for his future. Few things so clever as the opining and the camera story-telling in the early part of this film have been seen in English production, nor can one remember any so happily vivid or convincing characters as those he has made out of Miss Geraghty as Jill and Mr. Mander as the china-bowelled villain. His weakness is that he does not seem quite to visualise the film as a whole clearly enough, and thus he or his scenarist allows the production to lag precariously in places. Detail with which he is familiar is amazingly well done, the very dust of the London rooms seems significant and real, and his sense of human nature contrives to make natural the most melodramatic incidents, notably the finely acted killing of Mr. Mander. But those characters that interested him less are scamped and weak ; the tropics are absurd and show the influence of Wembley.

Two blots in the picture are the tea-stained little North European who poses as a native girl, and her ghost when dead, which is cheaply and commonly made. The titles are fair, the spoken ones quite natural, but the others sometimes sentimentally shocking. Throughout they are depicted on ugly and distracting pieces of scenery known technically — not even the lexicon can say why — as "art" backgrounds.