B The Pleasure Garden
For a new director’s first film, The Pleasure Garden is surprisingly assured–creatively using all the cinema’s tools to tell a good story. Based on a popular novel of the time, it follows two young women, both dancers, as their professional and love lives go in different and contrasting directions. One goes aggressively after money and becomes very wealthy. The other–the nice one–marries the worst cad you could imagine. The movie really picks up in the last act, when the action moves to "The East" (country unnamed), where exotic diseases and even more exotic women improve the atmosphere and story. The climax involves one of Hitchcock’s best murder scenes–one that left the audience gasping in horror. Pretty impressive for a newcomer.
And what about the music? Sometimes I suspect that Stephen Horne is more than one person. Playing flute, piano, accordion, some sort of percussion, and I think his own breath, he became a one-man sextet. And he fit the excitement and the weirdness perfectly.
The restoration looked fine, presented in a tinted 35mm print.
B- The Lodger
His first thriller, The Lodger feels like Alfred Hitchcock in embryo. The plot and the atmosphere set up themes he would use again and again, but this first time, he doesn’t get it quite right. For instance, it’s often referred to as his first use the "innocent accused" plot repeated in 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, North by Nortwest, and others; I’ve even referred to it that way, myself. But it’s more of a mystery than any of those later works, leaving the audience to wonder if the strange new boarder really is the Avenger Murderer terrorizing London. This robs the film of much of its potential suspense; we have a hard time worrying about the guy if we think he’s a serial killer. It’s all made worse by Ivor Novello’s anemic and bizarre performance . But if you love Hitchcock, you have to see The Lodger.
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra gave it a wonderful score, catching the mystery, the terror, and the feeling of the London fog. The tinted 35mm print, made from a new digital restoration, looked quite good.