The Silent Films of Alfred Hitchcock 1925-29
What are they? They are the early masterpieces of Alfred Hitchcock from 1925-29, the silent time for movies. Making a movie without sound is actually quite difficult because everything is visual story telling and cinematic technique. Sound cannot provide anything.
Up until now, his early films have been needing restoration and the British Film Institute has done just that- restoring nine of his 1920's films where you can already see his style and suspense. Sound only will add to the suspense.
By age 25, Hitchcock was a director of early films. He had worked before as a title-card designer (where dialogue is read), a scriptwriter, art director and asst. director. Much of these early years he worked in Germany and greatly inspired by Fritz Lang and Murnau. These directors are the source of his own style.
His first film was in 1926, an English-German production called, The Pleasure Garden, about two show girls with vastly different lives. One is a rag to riches course into greed and sexual freedoms, the other, faces betrayal and violence. It made a mark at the time, for sure. His second film, The Mountain Eagle (1926) is lost. Little is known about it. His next 1926 film was the film that gave him status- The Lodger. a very visual film in foggy London and haunted by a serial killer leaving a trail of very dead blondes. It was his first film to use visual tricks like a transparent ceiling. The film was delayed in its release because the distributor had little faith in it, yet, after it was a released, the Hitchcock name was well-known for suspense. In 1927, he did another, Downhill, about a young man who descends into a seedy world after be is falsely accused of a crime. Also that same year, he did "Easy Virtue" based on the Noel Coward play. Besides, The Lodger, his 1927, The Ring is his best of the silents because it is a boxing film. He wrote the script set in two realities- the circus and sports. In 1928, he released, The Farmer's Wife, an early comedy that is very physical Also, that year, Champagne, that uses what is a Hitchcock trademark later, an opening shock scene to capture the viewer in this odd comedy about the life of a heiress. It was filmed through a goblet. Then, in 1929, Hitchcock does, The Manxman. A tragic, somber film about a love triangle gone very bad (as they always do). His last silent film was Blackmail. Blackmail was unique because it was done as a silent and then as his first sound film. It is about a hunted criminal that is caught and shoved through the legal system ending in a thrilling trademark scene with the man being chased through the British Museum and OVER its outside dome. This will be done again many years later in films like Vertigo. The small size of man dwarfed by the huge landmarks he is trying to scale.
Watching a silent film requires adjustment because the only sound is the piano accompaniment, which if it is no good, diminishes the overall film. Hitchcock's early films are making their rounds across America now starting in LA at the Museum of Art and playing in major urban cities.
Catch them if you can!