Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Pleasure Garden


Hitchcock’s first film (he directed bits of others) is this hour-long trifle. The Pleasure Garden is a theater where Patsy dances, resisting the entreaties of smitten gentlemen. Enter Jill, a girl from the country who gets her pocket picked at the stage door. Patsy takes pity on her, takes her home, sneaks her into the theater … where the little country mouse shows her true colors, proclaiming that she can dance better than any of these lame chorus babes. She demonstrates—and sorry, Hitch, she’s pitiful—and somehow the director is impressed. Soon she is a star, flirting with princes and with no time for her old boyfriend, Hugh, or her savior, faithful Patsy. Meanwhile, Mr. Levet (we never learn his first name) is wooing Patsy. They marry, honeymoon at Lake Como for a month, where he treats her with increasing indifference. Then Hugh and Levet are off to a plantation somewhere unspecified. In a grass shack, Levet greets his brown-skinned mistress. Word comes back that Levet is sick, and Patsy is desperate to go be with him. That bitch Jill won’t loan her a penny, though she’s rolling in dough and engaged to Prince Ivan. She’s spending it all on her trousseau, surely you’ll understand, Patsy dear. But Patsy’s good-hearted landlords scrape up the money, and she finds Levet in drunken embrace with his native girl. She leaves him, and finds that it is Hugh who is really sick with the fever. Levet goes nuts, drowns the girl, and comes looking for his wife. He drags her home, but is pursued by the ghost of the girl. As he is about to kill Patsy, the local constable shoots him. Hugh realizes he’s been a fool, he now loves Patsy. They return home happily to be greeted by her faithful dog, who knew Levet was a snake in the grass all along. Bow-wow, he says in warning every time Levet touched her. Bow-wow. Which as we all know is doggy for “He will break your heart.” It is all adequately filmed, with only one shot that might remind you of Hitchcock as he would later develop. Of interest only to Hitchcock scholars.