Champagne (1928) Poster

(1928)

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7/10
The secret of the second negative
Igenlode Wordsmith1 October 2012
The recent BFI restoration of the Hitchcock silents brought to light the unhappy truth that the negative of "Champagne" held in the National Archive -- which on research proved to be the ultimate source of every other surviving print around the world -- is explicitly labelled as the studio's 'second negative', in other words a substandard back-up copy assembled from the shots that weren't quite good enough for the distribution print. The digitally restored version looks good, and some improvements have been made where shots were obviously spliced out of sequence, but since we now know that there are specific problems in this negative with poor editing/pacing (e.g. shots being held a little too long) and the use of reaction shots that didn't originally make the grade, it's hard to be sure how many of the film's issues are due to this fact and how many to an actually weak storyline. Given that the major problems are the complaint that the film seems to drag and that characters' reactions just don't seem to make sense, I'm afraid that "Champagne" as originally released may well have been substantially superior to the only version that we will ever be able to see :-(

This was apparently a case of a film where the title and star were decided upon in advance, and then a scenario had to be constructed around them! Hitchcock's original plan was for a rags-to-riches-to rags plot (as opposed to the riches-to-rags-to-riches version ultimately used) in which a girl working at a rural champagne plant would go up to Paris and see for herself how the drink fuelled dissipated night-life, only to return disgusted to her poor but honest job. However, it was felt that the great British public would much prefer to see glamour celebrated on the screen rather than have their illusions popped -- cinema was an escapist medium for those whose life was hard -- and so a completely different scenario was developed. (It is interesting to wonder, however, how much of the cabaret sequence derives from this original concept.)

Like most of Hitchcock's early films, this is not a typical "Hitchcock" production -- the director was expected to do his job as paid by the studio rather than provide his own material -- and is of interest to those who enjoy films of the era rather than to those who are looking for traces of "The Master of Suspense". Betty Balfour is the quintessential Twenties Girl here: wilful and bubbly with a Cupid's-bow pout, cropped curls and the ambition to dictate her own life rather than acquiesce to the plans of the male half of the population. The plot is thin and in places rather contrived, but as this is by no means rare in comedies of the period (or later ones...) I think the problem is with the handling of the material rather than with the storyline per se.

The beginning is good (I particularly liked the description of the young man as a 'cake-hound'. a wonderfully period insult), and the wordless comedy of sea-sickness is very well handled without being merely crude: I love the way the Boy veers between outraged determination to confront his supposed rival and qualms from his uncertain stomach.

The concept of forcing the spoilt flapper to fend for herself (echoing Buster Keaton's hapless couple on board the "Navigator") is obviously intended as a major comedy hook for the plot, although it's not played intensively for laughs. I have to say that this is the first time I've ever seen a director actually get comic business out of the actual process of cooking (as opposed to simply miming that the rock-cakes are rock-hard) and did wonder if it reflected an impressive degree of domestication on Mr Hitchcock's (or Mr Stannard's) part!

The main problem with the film is I think the cabaret sequence, and I do wonder if this is a left-over from the original scenario. Instead of developing the comedy inherent in a girl who 'makes a mess of everything she gets her hands on' (including the back of her lover's jacket...!) looking for a job, we are plunged into what turns out to be a rather confusing and portentous sequence of events, as her 'job' at the cabaret seems to get forgotten in favour of sexual innuendo: the prostitutes, the lesbians, the would-be rapist... The plot becomes muddled (not helped by what turns out to be an interpolated dream/nightmare sequence) and ends up with the girl running off to throw herself on the mercy of a man she has previously -- and soon again subsequently -- seemed to be afraid of. Considered dispassionately, much of this section seems to be a digression that neither develops the comedy nor furthers the plot mechanics (although it is probably the most 'Hitchcockian' part of the picture!)

Having contorted the characters into the required situation to create the final comic set-up -- the showdown of mistaken intentions on board the returning liner -- the film concludes fairly happily with some genuine laughter through unforced farce. The acting is by and large good -- save for those moments when it is simply totally confusing! -- and the basic plot is a promising set-up for a typical light comedy of the period, complete with showy costumes for the leading lady and a hint of slapstick. The pacing is just a bit off; and, knowing what we now know, I do wonder if there is missing material -- intertitles, for instance! -- or even excess shots where alternate takes/ideas were *both* included in the compiled negative for a decision at some future point...
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9/10
Addictive silent
suchenwi27 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Silent. Black & white. Hitch said it was his worst movie. But still...

I watched "Champagne" three times in four days now, and can't get tired of it. Of course it's almost 80 years old, and far away from the world of 2007. But it made me curious. Betty Balfour is just such a cutie in her very various acts. (Reminds me somehow of German chancelloress Angela Merkel, but never mind.) Although it's mostly a comedic romance, there are indications of Hitch things to come - in the cabaret, staircase scenes, and a 360 degree shot that I before thought was pioneered in Frankenheimer's "Manchurian Candidate" (1962).

Betty was extremely charming and versatile here (I'd love to see some Squibs, her most famous movies...), but after the introduction of talkies she was more Rain than Singing. Anyway, this snapshot conserves special moments (the dress-changing, the rolling of the dough, the chair dance, ...) Highly recommended if you go for museum pieces (and "read lips" instead of waiting for inter-titles). Not everybody's taste, but surely mine :^)
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8/10
Early Hitch makes for entertaining time
Spuzzlightyear20 September 1999
For those of you used to Hitchcock mysteries, whodunits and what nots, this VERY early work will come as a big surprise. But it's not surprise that this is quite the feast for the eyes, and quite amazing to watch for it's technical details.

The plot is simple, but yet detailed. A rich socialite daughter elopes with the man she wants to marry (with quite an amazing entrance with the female character), they flee to Paris, where she finds out her rich daddy is rich no more, and suddenly, she must face the glamourous 1920's world from a very different perspective..

Hitchcock fills the screen with a lot of details in this one, and one quite marvels at all the amazing camerawork going on. The special effects and finally the COSTUMES (!) are quite incredible as well. A cool movie!
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Light & Bubbly
Snow Leopard25 May 2001
One of Alfred Hitchcock's silent-film comedies, "Champagne" is good light, bubbly entertainment, much as the title might suggest. It is very interesting to see the future Master of Suspense at work with such different material, and it's a good little film in its own right.

The story-line is very simple: a spoiled rich girl defies her powerful father to meet her boyfriend, and her father, convinced that the boyfriend is only a fortune hunter, resorts to a variety of tactics to try to break off the relationship. Meanwhile, everywhere the girl goes, the same mysterious stranger seems to pop up.

It's not much of a plot, but Hitchcock does some nice things with it. The visuals make the movie fun to watch - attractive sets, good sight gags, interesting detail. As the rich daughter, Betty Balfour is charming and is especially good in a couple of scenes where her character has to perform some unfamiliar tasks. Gordon Harker is, as always, quite funny as the father. His timing works nicely with Hitchcock's pacing.

Hitchcock's dry British wit made most of his silent comedies very pleasurable to watch. If you admire Hitchcock, or if you enjoy silent films, treat yourself to some "Champagne".
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4/10
A departure for Alfred Hitchcock and a mixed bag of a film
knoll36020 February 2011
This film is a real mixed bag of sorts. The film follows a woman named Betty who is in love with her rich boyfriend. However, Betty also has a substantial amount of money and Betty's father believes that her boyfriend is a gold-digger. Betty takes her father's plane and goes after her boyfriend anyway who is on a ship heading to France. Betty attempts to get married to her boyfriend but they get in an argument and separate after they reach France. After getting back together Betty's father tells her that they have lost all of their money in the stock market which causes Betty's boyfriend to leave again. Will her boyfriend return or is he really a gold-digger? The story isn't very interesting when it comes down to it although I did enjoy the twist at the end of the film.

As for the acting, it's actually pretty good. Betty Balfour plays Betty and does a stupendous job at it. She seems to fit into the role very naturally and does a good job at not exaggerating emotions like in most silent films. Gordon Harker plays Betty's father Mark and seems to do a good job at seeming unpleased with his daughter's decision. And finally Jean Bradin plays Betty's boyfriend and he also does a good job in the role. While the acting is good, it doesn't save the film.

The special effects in the film are flawed and some of them seem obvious which isn't very good at all. However, the music is stupendous here and does a great job at creating emotions which you don't normally get from films of this time period. The camera angles and shots being used are truly ahead of their time which helps the film.

Even though I praised many aspects of the film the plot just feels so basic and uninteresting plus the poor quality of the special effects really hurt the atmosphere and immersion of the film. So while it has many positives it also has many negatives which causes it to equal out to a very mediocre film. Score: 4/10
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3/10
Sipping champagne
Pimpernel_Of_Scarlet4 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is another mundane Hitchcock silent film, difficult to believe that he actually directed it. There is not a whole lot to this film except a lesson learned and, much like champagne itself, the characters are bubbly and provide a tickle or two. This might be as close as the fabled director would come to romantic comedy.

Wall street champagne magnet Gordon Harker, a Hitch silent veteran, wants to teach his spoiled rich daughter Betty Balfour the age-old lesson that money does not grow on trees. She's completely out of control spending daddy's money with her lover (Jean Bradin) when Daddy Warbucks lowers the boom by telling her the champagne business is kaput. Some of the usual Hitch camera tricks keeps the plot interesting as the story moves from an ocean liner to Paris and back to the liner. It is fascinating to watch the photography and camera placements because at least one (the view through the bottom of a glass) would be reused by Hitchcock later in his career.

Balfour is fine as the ditsy girl and she does show versatility going through a gamut of emotions. Harker, who would continue his career in talkies, is demonstrative to the nth degree and is this close to overacting. Ironically, this film shows a Wall Street millionaire looking at the stock market tables constantly in 1928, and the great stock market crash does happen for real the next year.

If for nothing else than the twisty ending, this film does bear watching. That is, if you are not expecting a suspenseful Hitchcockian thriller. There are a few laughs, but the earth does not move, and we are left with a glimpse of a slice of life from 80 years ago.
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7/10
A Chance to See Britain's Most Popular Actress of the 1920s....
kidboots3 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
....in a very typical role. There were a few fresh talents to emerge in Britain after the War and one of these was Betty Balfour. She made her name in a series of popular comedies centred around "Squibs", a Piccadilly flower seller. Soon she was the most popular screen star in Britain, popular enough to be given the lead in "Champagne" directed by up and coming director Alfred Hitchcock. He attempted this as a change of pace from his more recent, somber films ("The Lodger" (1927) and "The Ring" (1927)) but Hitchcock didn't like it. Obviously with Miss Balfour as the star, the film was tailored to her light hearted talent and Hitchcock was out of his element and refused to mold a film around a particular personality ever again. He wasn't the only one who wasn't impressed, the movie wasn't well received by "Variety" who called the story "of the weakest".

I did like Betty Balfour. I had only seen her in "Evergreen" where she was distinctly matronly - it was so nice to see her at her best as a fun loving flapper even if the movie dragged. Millionaire Wall Street businessman (Gordon Harker) is so exasperated at his daughter's frivolous ways he is determined to teach her a lesson. He tells her he has lost all his money and forces her to face up to life's realities. Her fiancé, who has long wished that she would ditch some of her fair weather friends, is the only person who stands by her. There is also a certain man about town waiting in the wings.

Music is so important to me while watching silent movies and this was of the deadliest. It is like someone saw the name of Alfred Hitchcock in the credits and inserted the most dramatic symphonies they could find. It was for the most part a light hearted comedy and really needed some popular songs of the day. I also think more could have been done with Betty's job hunting - she answered an advertisement to demonstrate toothpaste but found herself in a cabaret selling boutonneires (she couldn't escape from "Squibs"!!). Suddenly "man about town" turns up when she is at her lowest and falls in with her suggestion to whisk her off to New York but even in this early stage of his career Hitchcock had a surprise or two up his sleeve and the "man about town" is revealed as a good friend of her father's who has promised to keep an eye on her. But do those "bedroom eyes" that look at her over the glass of sparkling champagne mean business or pleasure. All will be revealed - but not in this movie!!!
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7/10
Mine's a beer, garçon
Spondonman27 June 2007
There's not much to this film of Hitch's, a bit like champagne itself but not so mirth-inducing. Maybe you already know it but he went on make better films than this – many of 'em in fact, but notwithstanding that I still find this one an enjoyable watch.

Spoilt little rich girl Betty Balfour is taught a salutary if convoluted lesson by her Wall Street father ably played by Gordon Harker on how to behave as befits the daughter of a millionaire. In this exercise he sorts out the problem of the genuineness of Betty's suitor too. Some of the sets were as flimsy as the plot (almost diaphanous!) but would have made do for the audience that would only see it the once, and some of the photography and ideas were excellent with some, like the view through the bottom of the glass re-used by Hitch years later. Gurning through a wide range of emotions Betty Balfour kept on Bouncing Back in the same manner as Squibs, her famous role, whilst Gordon Harker excelled at playing this type of role before he started parodying himself in the '30's and playing up his down to Earth voice and mannerisms. And even Claude Hulbert made a 3 second appearance on the club stairs in one of his first film roles. If nothing else, it's worth a watch for the sinister Hitchcockian twist at the very end.

All told, not a great but an interesting film with a pleasant atmosphere, but because there's so few extant it's definitely a satisfying British silent film.
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4/10
Good looking but dull early Hitch
zeebrite-321-22076828 March 2012
Even in 1928 Hitch was beginning to stand out from other directors. The camera-work and editing in this flick is outstanding. If you're a big Hitchcock fan, it will hold your interest for that aspect alone. If you're looking for great entertainment, look elsewhere.

Though there are some funny moments, most of Champagne is a bit of a snooze. The story is okay (Daddy teaches rich daughter a lesson, you'll probably guess how) but far from engaging.

The biggest problem is Betty Balfour. She's in nearly every scene and she's simply not that good. It's not a problem with the typical big-gestured silent acting but more to the fact that the emotions she portrays often don't fit the scene.

Good for a diversion and a couple of laughs but you might end up glancing at your watch before the predictable end.
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6/10
It's Interesting, but Dated
Hitchcoc9 September 2008
Hitchcock liked to isolate people on trains and ships and force them to interact with whomever was in that setting. In this one, the spoiled brat daughter of tycoon lives the life of a princess on her father's money. She is wasteful and shallow and draws attention in that Paris Hilton kind of way. We know that she must have a good heart but now, anything that happens to her is deserved. Enter her father, who wants to teach her a lesson. After all, she has embarrassed him time and time again. She is going to elope with her nice young man, who finds her a bit insufferable at times. He hangs in there while she tests the limits of her entitlement. She is eventually reduced to fending for herself. Hitchcock does a decent job with this but I think there could have been a bit more to it. He got just a bit lazy here. Still, it is billed as a comedy, not "The Scarlet Letter," so there is a lighter touch. It's certainly worth a peek.
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9/10
Source of hidden gold...
Balthazar-512 February 2002
Although the film shows plenty of evidence of being made by the Master, most viewers will probably find it light compared to the 'more substantial' 'serious' films. But Hitchcock's metier is cinema, not suspense, and Champagne contains some choice examples of how Hitch thought cinematically in a way that no other director has done. A case in point is the magnificent visual joke towards the end of the film, when our heroes are aboard an ocean liner. From time to time they are bothered by a drunk who staggers into them and other passengers. However, before long, the ship hits a storm and sways around like a cork, causing everyone to stagger from wall to wall... except the drunk... On a more profound thematic level, this is one of the earliest Hitchcockian essays on the necessity of lying in one's bed if one has made it (cf The Birds). Incidentally, it's just occurred to me how much the Betty Balfour character in this prefaces those of Grace Kelly in Rear Window and Melanie Daniels in The Birds.
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5/10
Betty Balfour Gets Tipsy for Hitchcock
wes-connors21 August 2009
When the cork popped on "Champagne" in 1928, silent star Betty Balfour was a much bigger name than Alfred Hitchcock. Ms. Balfour was known as Britain's Mary Pickford. So, this is much more a Balfour flick than a Hitchcock. The director called it "Dreadful" (he was never happy filming a "star vehicle"). This was a transatlantic-themed film, seeking to broaden Balfour's popularity; but, she never "went Hollywood", and was stalled by sound. Balfour and French boyfriend Jean Bradin gain some mileage out of getting tipsy on an Atlantic cruise ship. Hitchcock gets in a few interesting shots. The sequences following Balfour going to get a job as a toothpaste model, but finding men more interested in her legs than her teeth, kick it up a notch. Nothing too revolutionary.

***** Champagne (8/20/28) Alfred Hitchcock ~ Betty Balfour, Jean Bradin, Gordon Harker, Theo von Alten
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5/10
"I've always understood that simplicity was the keynote of good taste"
Steffi_P9 February 2009
Champagne was among the last of Hitchcock's silents, and made at a period when Hollywood was already turning fast towards the talkies. Perhaps because of this, the young and naive Hitchcock appears to be cramming in as much visual technique as possible.

Right from his first picture, Hitchcock had loved the point-of-view shot. Champagne makes heavy use of what I call "extreme" point-of-view shots – that is, ones which really draw your attention to the fact that we are seeing a character's-eye-view, for example where we see the actor's hands in front of us, or the camera moves as the character walks. To this end Hitchcock even had giant props built to wave in front of the lens. There are also copious other techniques which aim to literalise the experience of the characters – for example shaking the camera around when the ship is rocking. Although the later Hitchcock would sometimes use such tricks (far more subtly) to draw the audience into the character's world, here and now it's just a bit of overt stylisation that in no way enhances the film.

Trickery for trickery's sake is often worse than useless. When Betty Balfour is told her father has lost his fortune, there is a superimposition of a room spinning. If Balfour is good enough, she could convey what is going on inside her character's head. I think I speak for most audience members when I say I would rather look at a good acting performance than a post-production special effect.

It's a pity Hitch felt he needed to dress up his shots so much, because even at this early stage he had good timing for basic point-of-view and reaction shots, allowing him to smoothly reveal intentions and opinions. His basic film grammar is good enough to keep down the number of intertitles. By the way, the difference between a picture like this and those made around the same time in the US (which tend to be very wordy) is not that the Hollywood directors were bad at visual storytelling, it's that their pictures were often full of unnecessary title cards, whereas in Europe the goal was generally to keep them to a minimum.

It's a mercy too that the acting in Champagne tends to be fairly naturalistic, the only touches of theatricality being for the sake of comedy. None of them is exceptional, but none of them is really bad either. I'm not quite convinced though by Gordon Harker as a millionaire, but perhaps this is because I'm so used to seeing him playing earthy working class types.

All else I have to say about Champagne is that it is just a bit dull – a comedy drama that is not enough of one thing or the other. A reasonable plot, a handful of good gags, but ultimately lifeless. At this point Hitchcock was really just saying, through his camera, "Look at me! I'm the director! Look what I can do!" when he should have been turning all those audience-involving techniques into gripping entertainment - as he later would.
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Lesser Hitchcock
winner5524 January 2009
Hitchcock was one of cinema's most aggressively experimental film makers, a fact largely unnoticed because, first, he worked largely in known genres rather than straight drama, and also because many of his experiments worked so well, they were adopted everywhere as conventions of film making. But when his experiments fail, they scream out for attention.

Champagne is one of the latter, pretty much a failure in terms of everything but the camera work. The main story is the the main problem. There's nothing about the characters' little problem here - and it's a very little problem when you think about it - that would lead us to grow concerned about their resolution to it. That gives us an unfortunate opportunity to ask whether we actually find the characters appealing - and we don't. The father is vile, his friend is vile, the lover is an airhead, the daughter is an airhead. So we're left with more than an hour of vile airheads trying to determine what virtue among the wealthy might be. As if they could possibly know.

Strong, intelligent women do not make much of an appearance in Hitchcock's silent films; the young Hitchcock had an ambiguous attitude towards women, whom he frequently presented as both victims of male cruelty and simpering imbeciles. That's very much in evidence here.

And Hitchcock struggled artistically with what may have been a real personality problem his whole life - the one word that can link all of his films is 'paranoia.' No one can be fully trusted in a Hitchcock film, making his world a treacherous place, even in his 'comedies' - the real "Trouble with Harry" (in that film) is not that he's dead, but that nobody gives a dam' that he is.

This paranoia informs this supposed comedy throughout, as well, and in fact defines its experimental nature - Hitchcock repeatedly paints his characters with ominous shadings, setting up scenes of potential violence, potential madness, potential rape; fortunately none of which ever happens - but we're supposed to laugh at this?! My sense is that this was the question Hitchcock wanted to raise, that's the experiment going on here. But nobody really wants that question raised, answering it doesn't give us a very good time.

Lesser Hitchcock, to be sure.
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6/10
"Hold everything! The next one's a knockout."
classicsoncall2 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sadly, not so. I detected the enthusiasm in the reviews of other posters on this board, but I'm far from enthralled by this early effort from director Hitchcock. Admittedly, the Master shows a flair for some of the techniques that would gain him accolades in his later work. I particularly liked his use of the swaying camera to illustrate the rolling of the ship to the ocean waves. The view through the champagne glass was also a nice touch, and decidedly novel way back in the silent era. What I found most disconcerting however were the abruptness of the moods and facial expressions of the central characters, particularly Betty (Betty Balfour) and The Man (Ferdinand Von Alten). Within seconds, their demeanor would go from happy to grim or vice versa, with no apparent change in circumstances within the scene. That only managed to convey an unusual amount of 'huh?' moments, as I tried to imagine myself in the same situation. So a lot of the picture didn't work for me.

There was also the simplistic set up of having Betty chase down her boyfriend aboard ship to Paris. Later it's learned that Betty's father is 'busted' due to his investment misfortunes, and The Boy (Jean Bradin) declares that he'll get a job to help them out. Well then, how did the well dressed, impeccably groomed traveler afford to go on an ocean cruise? See what I mean? The continuity of what Hitchcock was trying to convey doesn't hold up under close inspection.

And then there's The Man. Hired by Betty's father, his on screen appearance suggested a lecherous womanizer who would use any means to conquer yet another victim. The scene in the cabaret that suggested just that turned out to be a mirage sequence of sorts with an abrupt turnabout. More confusing than necessary I thought, and a curve ball thrown at the viewer.

Say, how did Father (Gordon Harker) get 'The New York Advertiser' to post a headline that he was teaching his daughter a lesson? I did get a kick out of his description of The Boy in the telegram he sent to The Man - it described The Boy as a 'boulevard sheik'.

As for a recommendation - see it for an early Hitchcock effort and as a curiosity piece. It will help one's understanding of the director's views on his way to greater film creativity and story telling.
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7/10
Cute story--and nothing like the Hitchcock you've come to expect.
MartinHafer26 July 2009
The film begins with a flighty and spoiled rich lady crashing her plane near a cruise ship. You soon learn that it was NOT an accident--she just missed the ship and thought nothing of destroying an expensive plane to make it to the ship where her fiancé is waiting. They are planning to elope but her father is furious--especially since it all seems like a fun adventure to the daughter instead of serious business. So, to teach her a lesson, the father tells her that he is broke and she'll have to support herself. Well, considering the type person she is, this seems like a great plan (too bad Paris Hilton's parents never saw this film) and the wedding plans soon fizzle.

Next they show the formerly rich girl trying to behave like a normal lady--cooking and taking care of her now "poor" father. So, feeling desperate to help support herself and Dad, she applies for work on a cruise ship. Oddly, she really never seems to actually do that much working once on board. However, what does happen is that a wolf gets a hold of her and things look bad--leading to a cute surprise ending.

All in all, a very entertaining film and something that might surprise some Hitchcock fans, as it's nothing like his later films. A decent silent light comedy that's worth a look because of its story and high watchability.
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5/10
Madcap Heiress Comes to Her Senses -- Sort Of.
rmax30482312 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Let's see. This very wealthy young lady, Betty Balfour, runs, or rather flies away from home on a lark. Picked up at sea by a ship, she meets two classy gentlemen. One is a villainous looking older type with a mustache (Frederick von Alten), the other a handsome young fellow, a little priggish (Jean Bradin).

Her father catches up to her and informs her that in her absence the market has fallen and they are now broke. We next see Betty and Daddy living in reduced circumstances, with Betty doing all the work. Bradin visits them and offers to take her out of "this wretched place." Right away, I didn't like Bradin too much. That wretched place looked more comfortable than where I grew up. Not that it matters -- Betty tells him she couldn't leave Daddy alone in any case, although she and Bradin are clearly attracted to one another.

Betty, however, must get a job to support her and her father. She becomes a "flower girl" at a cantina, where she runs into both of the men she met on the ship. The unctuous and oily Maitre De, for whom she works, makes life miserable for her. One thing follows another and she decides to run home to America was the mustachioed von Alten. Bradin catches them aboard ship before they leave. A fight ensues but Daddy bursts in and tells them that it was all a joke. They're still as rich as Croesus! Betty swoons into Bradin's arms! Bon voyage! I got lost a bit here and there in this silent flick. There weren't many title cards and the transitions seemed too quick for me at times. Either the editing was off or my brain is turning into some kind of instant soy burger compound. Add one cup milk and one beaten egg. For instance, Daddy tells Betty they are busted and, whammo, we see her serving him what struck me as a recherché dinner with champagne, while he smiles in his evening clothes. And they're supposed to be POOR.

It's also rather too long to be adequately supported by this rather thin and whimsical story. It's not slow. It just meanders along leaving oxbow lakes behind. There were times I didn't understand her motives. Why does she pretend to be jolly in the cantina while the priggish young man who could be her savior sits across the table from her? Or IS she pretending? See what I mean? Interesting experiment. Two samples of people, both naive movie-goers who wouldn't know Alfred Hitchcock from Fred Niblo. Tell Group One that the movie they are about to see is called "Champagne" and was directed by the famous Alfred Hitchcock. Tell Group Two nothing. Then show them the movie and ask them to rate it on a scale from one to ten, ten being best. Prediction: Group One will rate it significantly higher than Group Two.

Why else would anyone watch this extended and not particularly engaging film except for their knowing that it was an early effort of Alfred Hitchcock?
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10/10
Yes!
lucky13-25 June 2000
If you have not seen this movie it is a mistake, I devoured it and was like, this is among the best love stories of all times It has an all around good cast, the best director to hit the face of the Earth, beautiful costumes and cool photography. What else is to say than that of out 1 million movies(all of the movies i have ever seen) this is #1, and if you see it, you'll say the same.
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7/10
Entertaining Early Hitchcock Silent Film!
Sylviastel15 October 2013
Long before he became known for the master of horror, Sir Alfred Hitchcock did all kinds of films including this silent comedy starring Betty Balfour as a rich heiress who defies her father. This film is much lighter in tone than his others. Hitchcock dabbled in everything in film. Most of his early work is always worth viewing for study and entertainment. Balfour is the perfect leading lady. She is blonde, beautiful, and vivacious in her role here. This silent is different because the music are classical especially Ravel's Bolero. I knew this film was different by the music. Until I heard Ravel's Bolero, I wasn't sure. Once I heard Bolero, I knew the music was both familiar and classical to the audience. Unlike his other silent films, this film is much shorter and a little over an hour for viewing but the worth it.
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3/10
Mildly Cute Romantic Comedy
Rainey-Dawn6 May 2016
Betty Balfour plays "The Girl" who is a fun-loving, sorta dingy, party girl in this lighthearted romantic comedy. She's pretty, bubbly & sparkles like "Champagne". Appropriate title for this film.

The Girl goes off on and parties on her father's money and he is going to teach her a lesson by telling her he's broke - the stock market fell. Now she will find a way to go on herself.

Not much to this film. I'm finding it more of a snore-fest than I am interested in watching it - it's cute but not my style. That's not to say that others won't like it because there is an audience for these types of films - I'm just not one of them.

The one early, silent romantic comedy I enjoyed from Hitchcock was Easy Virtue 1928 (it deals with the once taboo subject of divorce).

3/10
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6/10
Perils Of A Party Girl
slokes17 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The best way to explain "Champagne" only makes it more confusing. It's a comedy that only works as a comedy when you watch it as a drama. Pull that off, and you get some clever, period-rich entertainment, but only if you watch it again. That's something a first viewing may not entice you to do.

"The rich are different than you or me..." F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that famous line around the same time young rich girl Betty (Betty Balfour) decides to board an ocean liner by ditching an airplane in the middle of the Atlantic. What a great way to sail away with her boyfriend (Jean Bradin), especially since their union is much opposed by her American plutocrat Daddy (Gordon Harker)! He sees the boy as a fortune-hunter. But what if there is no fortune left to hunt?

This Jazz Age-spirited comedy of status and love is remembered today as an early silent effort from director Alfred Hitchcock, who later dismissed it as his worst ever. But "Champagne" is better than most of his silent films and certainly way above later sound films of his like "The Paradine Case" and "Jamaica Inn." It also rates better than the later Hitchcock comedies "Mr. And Mrs. Smith" and "The Trouble With Harry."

"Champagne" has technique coming out of its ears, too, from an opening shot of a party seen through the bottom of a champagne glass to a startling transition shot of a leap off a balcony. Balfour is a fun lead who draws a rooting interest, a bit too smug in her wealth but with a palpably good heart. The ending is clever and quick in a very Hitchcockian way.

What the film doesn't offer much in is laughs, a problem for a comedy, especially a light one like this. Instead, you get rolling ship decks and overacting supporting actors. Harker, ever the ham, overdoes his cigar chewing and facial tics for lack of any substantive comic business, while Marcel Vibert as a maitre d' rubs his hands and raises his eyebrows with antic abandon.

Igenlode Wordsmith in an October 2012 review pointed up the problem of the second half of the film, namely all the comic potential left on the table when Betty gets work at Vibert's cabaret. By this time we have a good idea that Betty's problems aren't as serious as they seem, so we should be allowed to watch Betty cut loose and raise havoc. Instead, Hitchcock works up the suspense with a character played by Ferdinand von Alten whose place in this film is reminiscent of Ivor Novello in "The Lodger," that of a sinister, silent type, always on the lookout...or something.

I liked von Alten's performance quite a lot, particularly the second time I saw it, which is what makes a big difference. When you watch for the comedy, you do see it. But it's in the background. In the foreground is the suspense element Hitchcock works, and at times overworks, in the second half.

What compensates for this, and raises "Champagne" to the level of a mild recommendation, is how Balfour's character is used. She's both annoyingly carefree in her rich-girl cocoon and admirably spirited and independent in her drive to be who she wants to be, whatever the cost. Bradin, ironically, plays a bit of a stick who has more in common with Betty's father than she does, but her devotion to both men makes us care for all three. It also a striking issue, namely how much people can love one another when they not only fail to understand each other but don't see the need.

Seeing them come to terms with this is what makes the film work as a comedy, yet it's not enough unless you take their problem seriously, which as a comedy this isn't geared to do. Balfour's engaging if light performance does all it can to square the circle, and it's enough, just. "Champagne" may not be that substantive otherwise, but it's worth a sip.
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10/10
A must-see!
lindentravers-28 March 2000
I loved this movie! Although it is not a typical Hitchcockian movie theme it tells the story of an immature girl and how she works to fortune to pay the price of love! Betty Balfour plays the lead and is phenominal as well as the photography and costumes in this movie!
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2/10
Just a bad and boring movie.
DanielWRichardson17 April 2008
Let me start off by saying that Hitchcock is a master of suspense and was a great director. I always loved his better known movies such as "The Birds", "Psycho", and "Rear Window". About a couple of years ago I came across a one dollar DVD entitled simply "Alfred Hitchcock". It contained four films I haven't seen: "Jamacia Inn", "Sabotage", "The 39 Steps" (Which is very good.), and "Easy Virtue". They were, for the most part, good. Shortly after I found another Hitchcock dollar DVD entitled "Alfred Hitchcock Classics: Volume 1" which included "Champagne" and "Murder!". So there's the intro. Now on to the review. Like I said Hitchcock was a great director and in this movie we see his greatness shine through. However, the story is the problem I have with the movie. It's just boring. It has nothing to do with the fact that it's silent, it is just a bad movie. I personally don't like movies about some spoiled rich girl who whines for most of the show. Which is why I never cared for "Gone With the Wind". This movie is no exception. For an eighty-five minute movie it just dragged by. This story could have been told in twenty minutes. That's how simple the plot is. The reason I gave it a 2 and not a 1 is because of the direction. The direction is definitely there. My favorite shots are the shots through the champagne glass. However for the most part the rest of the movie sucked. Now I know this isn't Alfred's fault. When a director starts out he doesn't always get to pick and choose his movies, but as a viewer that's not my problem. Hitchcock once said this is his worst movie. And that's coming from a master of suspense. So if that doesn't tell you something. So in conclusion I recommend this only to hardcore Hitchcock fans, but the rest should steer clear.
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4/10
More like sparkling tap water.
dfranzen7025 March 2019
Just a dull, emotionless movie, and you'd be hard pressed to identify any Hitchockian overtones. Was probably supposed to be a screwball comedy, but it's neither captivating nor exciting. The plot is so simplistic that it could have been wrapped up in 30 minutes or less, sort of a pizza delivery of cinema. Hitch himself called it his worst, and I can't disagree.
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5/10
All Style, No Substance
SendiTolver12 August 2018
Hitchcock was once asked, if he could obliterate one of his movie from film history, which one would it be. 'Champagne', he said. To Truffaut he said 'The film had no story to tell'. Although visually striking, the film really has very close to plot. A rich father tries to teach a lesson to his spoiled daughter. There is mysterious man mixed in the story, but his intentions are revealed right away. The sweetheart of the rich girl is pretty straight guy with no surprises. And then the girl herself, played annoyingly by Betty Balfour. I don't mean by the big-gestured silent movie acting, but her performance was simply off. Although comedy, the film lacked much comedy besides couple of brief moments that offered some chuckles.

This film is only for Hitchcock completeist (like myself), and besides it's technical achievement 'Champagne' holds no other entertainment value.
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