Review: Champagne (1928)

I drank champagne once, never again shall I drink that vile substance!

Written By: Alfred Hitchcock & Eliot Stannard
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

So far the silent era has not been kind to the legacy of Alfred Hitchcock. I was hoping that Champagne would be the film to change all that, but I was as wrong as wrong can be. A series of uninteresting events transpire between undefined and uninteresting characters leading to a resolution that makes a completely unfunny experience out to be a screwball comedy. Champagne isn’t a film where I can speak of the directorial touches of Sir Hitchcock, because outside of one terrific shot through a champagne glass the direction in Champagne is nonexistent. With that bastion of hope tossed out of the window there was nothing in Champagne to hold my interest.

I know that a lot of people dislike the “this film was boring” argument. I try not to use that argument often, but there are times when it is an argument that fits the film in question. In the case of Champagne the one word that perfectly describes the film is boring. If I go all thesaurus I can also say uninteresting, or other synonyms for boring, but why get complicated when boring fits Champagne like a glove. Champagne could hire Johnnie Cochran as its defense lawyer and the glove would still fit, that’s how apt it is to use the word boring to describe this film.

I struggled to stay awake throughout Champagne, most of this I would say is due to the lack of story. In Champagne there is a loose story thread about an heiress needing to be taught a lesson. However, that story is so thin that it needed something else to help buoy it above the shore line. That’s where anything funny happening in a movie that is supposed to be a comedy would have been a great help. Outside of one scene where Betty Balfour, as the girl, started dancing like some sort of spastic monkey while remaining seated I didn’t find a single second of Champagne funny.

The characters, not the actors though, were just as responsible for my lack of interest in Champagne. The characters created for this film were hollow, lacking any depth or even any sort of defining qualities. The male romantic interest, as portrayed by Jean Bradin, was bland on a level that is illegal in at least seventeen countries. I don’t blame the actors, an incredibly thin story and characters who were complete milquetoast didn’t allow them to show any acting range whatsoever. That being said, the actors still didn’t manage to do anything with their roles.

Call it boring, call it disinteresting, call Champagne whatever the heck strikes you, but don’t call it an Alfred Hitchcock film worth watching. I’m not sure when exactly Sir Hitchcock developed his funny bone, or when he realized how interesting stories are when comedy can exist right alongside mystery. What I do know is that Champagne never engaged me, never made me laugh, and never made me feel like I was watching a film directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock. Chalk up Champagne as another failed silent from Sir Hitchcock, and that is a sad trend.

Rating:

**

Cheers,
Bill

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