Easy Virtue

Live Musical Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Screening on Film
Recently Restored
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Isabel Jeans, Franklin Dyall, Eric Bransby Williams.
UK, 1927, 35mm, black & white, silent, 70 min.
Print source: British Film Institute

Adapted from a Noël Coward play concerning an innocent woman disgraced by divorce, Easy Virtue’s most exciting passages are those in which the young Hitchcock alights upon a visual technique to speed or otherwise angle the narration. A magistrate’s blurry vision offers a witty pun on justice being blind, flashbacks turn on the magnetic presence of ordinary objects, and a key scene plays out entirely through an eavesdropping telephone operator’s reactions (an early instance of the director’s inclination to mirror the spectator). As the marked woman struggles to keep up appearances with her new husband’s moneyed family, Hitchcock maintains a cool distance to elucidate the essential theatricality of polite society.

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