In 1922, 23-year-old Alfred Hitchcock was readying his debut feature film, Number 13 — about the life of several Londoners in a tenement building. The project was shelved due to financial problems, and the few scenes captured have remained lost to this day. Hitch had a second chance to make his grand entrance in the film biz with 1925's The Pleasure Garden. It was shot in Italy and Germany (where it was a failure), but set at a London theater.
The story follows two chorus dancers and their messy relationships. Critic Dave Kehr called the opening of the movie "a clip reel of Hitchcock motifs to come." Indeed, we see a group of leggy performers parade down a spiral staircase onto a stage, where a gentleman in the audience eyes up a blonde dancer. Things get tangled from there as Hitchcock explores style, tension and troubled relationships with aplomb.
The film was screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater in June (after a restoration by the British Film Institute). Back then, however, the young director wouldn't see his debut feature screened for audiences until 1927 after the success of his movie The Lodger — which Hitch considered his first true film work and further established the recurring themes that populated his filmography. If you'd like a taste for this important silent film, watch the trailer. We've also included an earlier cut of The Pleasure Garden (prior to restoration) in full. [Spotted via Open Culture]
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