Champagne ★★½

An heiress, Betty Balfour, defies her father, Gordon Harker, and runs off to Paris with her fiancee, Jean Bradin. Father Harker, believing the young man to be a fortune hunter, attempts to separate the lovers, including by convincing Balfour that they are bankrupt. The lovers are temporarily separated, but, of course, true love wins out in the end.

Of Alfred Hitchcock’s nine silent films, only The Lodger (1925) foreshadows Hitchcock’s later concentration on suspense and intrigue. Most of Hitchcock’s silents focus on personal domestic issues. The story of Champagne is the stereotyped one about the rich girl who defies her over-protective father for the sake of her love.

A film that should be lively and appealing is neither; the pace is plodding, and the uninteresting characters lack zest. In his later years, Hitchcock was quoted as disliking this film, and it is easy to see why. Almost every scene is too long, the camera lingers on the characters as they either sit around doing nothing or move around pointlessly. For instance, during a scene in a nightclub the camera follows in turn each of several characters as he or she walks around the perimeter of a dance floor to a staircase.

Betty Balfour is cute, very pretty in close up wearing a typical 20’s-style cloche hat, but does not project much liveliness or sex appeal. Gordon Harker, covertly comic, is the only actor who enlivens a scene with his presence.