Champagne (1928): Hitchcock’s Eighth Film

Hitchcock revisited the theme of intergenerational strife, centering on the theme of the displaced and ungrateful rich child in “Champagne,” his ninth silent feature.

The protagonist, Betty (Betty Balfour) is a rich girl, who embarks on a trip around the world, by plane, ship and foot, when her millionaire father (Gordon Harker) shows immense dislike for her r boyfriend (Jean Bardin).

To teach her a lesson, the father tells Betty that the family has lost its fortune, based on the champagne industry.  The father hires a private detective (Theo van Alten) to protect his daughter

The irony is that in the course of the mildly engaging narrative, in order to make a living, Betty has to sell champagne in a cabaret.  In the happy end, Betty proves to be feisty and the father forgives his daughter and even agrees to her marriage.

The beginning and the ending of Champagne is “symmetric,” showing in close-up a glass of champagne.  The first person to drink is the private eye-guard.

“Champagne” belongs to a series of films that Hitchcock made about the moral education of young women, also seen in the later and better films, “Notorious,” with Ingrid Bergman, “The Birds,” and “Marnie,” both starring Tippi Hedren.

The process of education (or resocialization) involves a downward mobility before the way back up.  Thus, Betty goes from being a careless, fun-loving flapper to a woman who works as a cabaret girl and actress.

Some humor in interspersed throughout, as in a scene depicting the way a drunk walks aboard a ship, when he is tipsy or sober.

In the opening scene, Hitchcock pokes fun at the obsession with the tango dance at the time.