There are so many aspects of early 20th century history I would have liked to have witnessed. If someone can invent a time machine I would love to travel back to when my favorite classic films were released in theaters including silent films. That would be incredible to go back and actually see these films for the first time on the big screen. I would also love to be able to go back and visit some of the beer halls and vaudeville and Broadway shows. The beer halls or music halls and vaudeville seem to have been seedy yet interesting places. One silent film in particular that makes me wish I could go back and visit a music/beer hall is The Pleasure Garden from 1925.
The Pleasure Garden is a music hall in London where Oscar Hamilton has gained great notoriety for his chorus line. His lead chorus girl is Patsy Brand. After a show an old man is introduced to her and comments that he likes the curl in her hair. The curl is part of the blond wig all the girls wear so she pulls it out to give to the man much to his horror.
By the stage door is a young girl named Jill Cheyne. She is looking to speak to Hamilton about getting a part in the show. She had a letter of introduction but something happened to it. When she returns outdoors her money is taken by some men. Patsy walks out just as Jill’s money is taken. As a gesture of good will Patsy lets Jill stay at her place and tells Jill she can talk to Hamilton the following day about auditioning.
Jill does so well at her audition that Hamilton gives her a part in the show. She eventually becomes very popular and her picture is all over the paper. Her fiancé Hugh comes to town to see her before he leaves for two years to work on a plantation. Hugh is a nice man who wants to work hard and come back and marry Jill. He brings his friend Levet to the apartment. Patsy is immediately taken with Levet.
Down the road Jill becomes diva and forgets all about Hugh and begins seeing a Prince Ivan. Patsy has been seeing Levet and they are soon engaged and married. Levet has to go down to the same plantation to work with Hugh. One day Patsy gets a letter that Levet is sick and she has to somehow get down to where he is to be with him. She goes to Jill for the fare but Jill has become a snob and will not lend her some money. Fortunately Patsy’s landlords like her and loan her the money.
When Patsy gets down to the plantation Levet is not really sick he is just a drunken idiot who has been messing around with a native woman. Patsy of course becomes very upset with Levet and tells him she never wants to see him again. Levet in a fit of anger begins to beat Patsy. His boss sees what is going on and shoots Levet dead to get him off of Patsy.
Big shock, Patsy and Hugh wind up getting together in the end.
The Pleasure Garden was alright. There really was no focus on the music hall throughout the film it was just in the first few minutes. Maybe it is a metaphor for other things, I don’t know. But for some reason this film made me wish I could go back in time and go to a music hall for a show (go figure). The only reason I watched it and the only reason it is not obscure is because it was the first film to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock. His direction is not what we know it to be. He had yet to master direction plus the story is typical melodrama and the acting is atrocious. The Pleasure Garden is only worth watching just because it is Alfred Hitchcock’s first film.