b/w photo of a woman and man holding hands at a table in a dance club

Champagne

Live Musical Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Screening on Film
Recently Restored
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Betty Balfour, Gordon Harker, Ferdinand von Alten.
UK, 1928, 35mm, black & white, 105 min.
Print source: British Film Institute

A screwball comedy laced with despair, Champagne conjures a fair amount of Hitchcockian suspicion in spite of its frivolous characters. Comedienne Betty Balfour stars as a spoiled heiress used to being the life of the party. Her father’s ruin sends her looking for work at a cabaret, where she experiences a decidedly Germanic fall from grace. Hitchcock films the decadent hotel with deep focus and fluid long takes, lending a cool degree of realism to the otherwise titillating atmosphere. Standing on the periphery is a mysterious and menacing gentleman who surveys the bedlam through his glass of bubbly. Among the film’s other visual concoctions are superimposed hallucinations, a mugging filmed entirely from the waist down, and the first ever freeze-frame to be used in a film.

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