Monday, 15 April 2013
Easy Virtue (1928) - ★★★
Writers: Noel Coward (Screenplay), Eliot Stannard (Play)
Stars: Isabel Jeans, Robin Irvine, Franklin Dyall, Eric Bransby Williams, Violet Farebrother
Easy Virtue is one of Alfred Hitchcock's first films. It's an average silent movie, with average performances and good cinematography. The limitations of film-making at the time are shown here, yet it's interesting enough to keep you watching for more.
It's about a woman whose reputation is ruined by getting a divorce over her alleged adultery. When she holidays in France, she meets a nice young man who falls in love with her. They get married and move in to his parents mansion in England, where his family (particularly his heinous mother) do everything in their power to make her suffer. For a movie only 60 minutes long, there's quite a lot of content.
I didn't really get much out of the performances. Isabel Jeans is a fine actress and does a good job here, but her character comes across as one dimensional. The same goes for Robin Irvine as her young lover. The best performance, and a short one, comes from Violet Farebrother as the horrible mother-in-law.
Hitchcock was still working out the kinks with his brand of cinematography, but the early signs of genius show in Easy Virtue. One scene that impressed me was a swinging monocle fading into a swinging clock pendulum.
In the end, the movie needed more. It's only 60 minutes long and it was hard to relate to the characters. It was interesting, but failed to be riveting. It's by no means a blemish on the career of Hitchcock, but it doesn't come close to his best work.