Hitchcock 9 Silent Film Festival Diary – Day Three: “Pleasure Garden” and “The Lodger”

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Day Three at the Silent Film Festival’s feature Hitchcock 9, and the energy is winding up to wind down.

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Castro theatre.

The Pleasure Garden

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Accompanied by Stephen Horne

The Pleasure Garden is a deceptive film about deception. Two couples involved in chorus lines and world traveling find themselves in a world of deceit and betrayal. The film is notable for a marked shift in tone. It begins hopeful, whimsical, and very lightly dancing with the concept of darkness, and turns for the absolute worst as the true natures come out. Great shots, interesting acting that occasionally avoids melodrama for some stark realism (particularly that of the friend of the main male protagonist).

And, as stated before, the dynamic virtuosity of Stephen Horne is something that must be experienced.

The Lodger

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Accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

“The Lodger was the first true ‘Hitchcock’ movie” – Alfred Hitchcock. Although his expertise on such a man cannot be trusted outright, Hitchcock was, in this case, correct about Hitchcock. The Lodger is one long case of building doubt – and, indeed, it kept me guessing until the very end. A serial killer is loose in the streets of London targeting young women with blonde, curly hair. A mysterious, strange lodger (Ivor Novello) stays in a lodge near the events, in which a young woman with blonde, curly hair resides.

The style is absolutely remarkable. Some of the sequences of “montage” in the Eisensteinian way are fantastic, lit to a degree of German expressionistic brilliance – the primary example coming to mind being that of when the mother (and matron of the lodge) begins to suspect the lodger of being the killer as the lodger sneaks out into the night. No intertitles are needed, and no sound is needed either – the “silence” serves to absolute effect as we watch her horror slowly build by cuts to her face, juxtaposed against the little shots of the sensations that build her horror – him sneaking out, the door closing, her face, his hand as it slides down the handrail towards the stairs from above… and so on. The horror she feels at likely giving quarter to a murderer is effected in us and makes us worry as though from her perspective as he becomes closer to the blonde curly daughter.

A must see for anyone interested in early cinema and Hitchcock, and a brilliant choice for the final film of the Hitchcock 9.

And the Mont Alto, as said before, re-creates the cinematic experience of an orchestra in a pit for a silent film with mastery.

The Hitchcock 9 was a treat, and I feel privileged to have been able to view the five that I saw. Now one needs only to wait until July 18th for the full program of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival to start! Highlights include films by King Vidor, Yasujiro Ozu, and Victor Sjöström, as well as G.W. Pabst’s masterpiece, “Die freudlose Gasse”.

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Categories: Festivals, Silent Film Festival

2 Comments on “Hitchcock 9 Silent Film Festival Diary – Day Three: “Pleasure Garden” and “The Lodger””

  1. Lawrence Chadbourne
    June 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Hi Tom: Must be a misunderstanding about Der Blaue Engel. First, it’s not a silent film. Second, it was directed not by Pabst but by Von Sternberg.

  2. Tom Ellis
    June 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Thank you for the correction, I fixed it.

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