Alfred Hitchcock silent, based on Noel Coward play.
The opening title, “easy virtue is society’s reward for a slandered reputation,” declares the theme of the movie.
Larita (Isabel Jeans) is falsely but understandably accused of adultery by alcoholic husband. Convicted in court, she tries to start over, but can she escape the hideous past? is the question.
Undoubtedly meant as a critique of bourgeois morality, read: hypocrisy. This is a favorite theme of twentieth century playwrites.
But it fails. Honesty is fundamentally missing in the aftermath; the legitimate concern of Larita’s husband is not portrayed sympathetically. Moreover, the past — even when unfair– can’t just be swept under the rug, despite the profession of this by John’s father.
There are clever techniques of a young Hitchcock, e.g.
- At trial, lawyer scribbles things on a pad; this helps communicate extra detail silently to audience.
- When doing flashbacks and forwards, Hitchcock ties them together by use of similar image in each scene.
On the other hand, the often melodramatic acting will often annoy modern sensibilities: wide eyed, suspended motion, dramatic gesticulation. This was necessary to convey drama in the silent medium.
The DVD has poor picture and sound preservation.
See this if you have mastered the Hitchcock main corpus and want to fill out your understanding of the man; otherwise leave it. Most can bypass it, hence the 0 rating.