Easy Virtue (1927) C+
In the early stages of his directing career, Alfred Hitchcock made a number of modestly budgeted studio films, such as Ëasy Virtue.
“Easy Virtue,” one of the nine silent movies Hitchcock directed, is based on a play by Noel Coward, adapted to the screen by Coward and Eliot Stannard.
The protagonist, like that of many future Hitchcock films, is a young, bored and restless woman. When tale begins, Larita Filton is posing for her portrait in an artist’s studio. The behavior of her boorish, philandering husband, Aubrey Filton, drives her into the artist’s arms, but she’s discovered by her husband.
The artist then shoots the husband, wounding but not killing him. Aubrey sues for divorce and Larita falls from grace in the courtroom, while journalists feed the public a salaciously inflated account.
The ruined Larita flees to South of France, where she meets John Whittaker, a young upstanding Brit. They fall in love, get married, and return to England to her mother.
However, mother Whittaker, a Victorian in the modern age, opposes the union, upbraiding John for bringing scandal upon the family name. As neither John nor his father has the strength or power to counter Mother Whittaker’s charges, Larita ends as a miserable femme.
This early film lacks the technical brilliance of Hitchcock’s later British and American films, but it reveals his consistent interest in the destructive effects of family life, the dominant character of matriarchs, and the significance of love as a potentially redeeming force.
Ivor Montagu, one of the co-founders of London Film Society, where Hitchcock got his filmic education, edited three of his silent films, including “Easy Virtue.” Later on, he served as producer of Hitchock’s great British films, such as “The 39 Steps.”
Hitchcock appears in a cameo.
Running time: 79 Minutes.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Noel Coward, Eliot Stannard.
Dorothy Boyd as the younger sister
Darcia Deane as Marion Whittaker
Franklin Dyall as Mr. Filton
Frank Elliott as Colonel Whittacker
Benita Hume as telephonist
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