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Film / Champagne

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Champagne is a 1928 film from Britain directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Betty (Betty Balfour) is a spoiled party girl, the only daughter of a filthy rich businessman named Mark. She hires a plane to land her in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean so she can elope with her boyfriend, who is never named in the movie (the credits call him the Boy). Her assertiveness in arranging a wedding with the captain causes the Boy, who is the sort of sexist who likes to be in charge, to break up with her. She winds up flirting with the Man, an older sort with a mustache who casts her a lot of lustful glances.

Meanwhile, the stunt with the plane, as well as Betty's determination to marry the Boy whom her father regards as a gold digger, prompts Mark to take desperate measures. He plays a cruel trick on his daughter, telling her that he lost everything in the stock market and they are now poor. Gullible Betty buys it, and gets a job at a flower girl at a nightclub, where she meets both the Boy and the Man again.

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Hitchcock's next-to-last silent film. In a 1976 interview he named Champagne as his least favorite of his own works.


Tropes:

  • Book-Ends: The movie begins and ends with POV shots in which the Man looks through the bottom of a champagne glass in a creepy way. Also, early in the film Betty says she'll arrange for the ship captain to marry them, and at the end, the Boy says he'll do it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Hiring a floater plane to rendezvous with a liner in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is a pretty spectacular gesture, showing Betty to be wild and impulsive as well as a spendthrift (the plane sinks).
  • The Flapper: They had them in England too, and Betty fits the trope, being a fun party girl who wears slinky dresses, swills champagne, and dances the night away.
  • Gold Digger: Mark believes this of the Boy, telling Betty that "Your boulevard sheik is only after my bank roll." It doesn't appear to be true.
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  • Green-Eyed Monster: The Boy has a real problem with being a jealous Jerkass. He gets pissed off when seeing Betty dancing in a revealing dress at a party. Later, when he sees her working as a flower girl in another revealing dress, he gets pissed off again and then has the gall to call her father to intervene.
  • Imagine Spot: Betty and the Man are chatting at the nightclub. He lures her into a side booth and starts forcefully kissing her. She runs away, he grabs her and drags her back, and an ugly scene ensues. Then the film cuts back to Betty and the Man chatting at their table, revealing the fight to be an imagine spot.
  • Impairment Shot: The Boy sees three Bettys after suffering from a combination of intoxication and seasickness.
  • Plot Hole: Since Mark is a total creep, it makes sense that he hired a detective to follow his daughter around. But it doesn't explain how the detective was onboard the ship to watch her, since she was not on the ship when it left port.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Hitchcock showed visual flair from early in his career. The first scene in this movie shows a dance floor, as seen through the bottom of a champagne glass that the Man has raised to his lips and emptied. (Hitchcock had a special glass with a lens on the bottom made.)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Betty lets her father and the Boy have it at the night club, after the latter gets all jealous and the former admits his trick.
    "You fooled me—humiliated me—believed the worst of me! Oh how I hate you both!"
  • The Reveal: The Man, who has been paying a lot of attention to Betty ever since they met on the ocean liner, is actually a detective hired by her father to keep an eye on her.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Some Fanservice as Betty changes into a revealing cocktail dress.
  • Verbal Irony: The Boy, who is a sexist jerk, sneers at Betty's hopes of getting a job, saying "You'll make a mess of it, as you do everything you lay your hands on!" He then turns to reveal two handprints on the back of his coat—Betty was baking with flour when the Boy arrived and she gave him a hug.
  • Visual Title Drop: The first shot is a tight closeup of a champagne cork popping, and champagne being poured into a glass.
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