Easy Virtue’s Silent Incarnation, Plus Captions!

“Here you are, a beautiful young woman immersed in scandal, about to be divorced. I could find you guilty, or you could come home with me.”

Easy Virtue Stats:
Noel Coward writes play 1925
Alfred Hitchcock makes silent film in 1928
Idiots make bad film in 2008

The glib charm of Noel Coward’s social comedy must come through better on stage, since the 2008 film blew it. The latest film version with Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, and Jessica Biel had a chance at capturing that charm, but something went wrong. Alfred Hitchcock 1928 film does them one better. Hitchcock’s silent film obviously loses the clever dialogue and, instead of a comedy, the film becomes a sentimental melodrama, albeit with a rather emancipated heroine. Yet the framing of the story in a courthouse, the transitions, the theatrical acting and the mooody orchestra pieces all make for a fun watch.

The film might be hard to find, but amazingly there is a website that has 1,000 film stills telling the story scene by scene. I started to wonder halfway through if silent films weren’t a perfect opportunity for audience creativity. Like Mystery Science Theater, you could create the words to the movie…

“No, really darling, I only take gin in my teacup.”

“Golly–I’m smoking a cigarette. A flagrant sign you’re stuffy mother will hate me!”

“Darling–why is your father still holding my hand—I’ve gotten into scandals over such things.”

“How charming. But if you don’t get me out of here, I insist on a second divorce.”

“If only I could read.”

“Wait a sec–she looks familiar!”

“There goes the family reputation. I should have listened to Mother.”

“Migraine my ass! I’ll dance in my slutty satin gown if I please.”

“It’s true I shouldn’t dance with my husband’s friend. But then, virtue is never easy.”

3 thoughts on “Easy Virtue’s Silent Incarnation, Plus Captions!

  1. The 2008 version sounds pretty formulaic. There seems to be a small pool of actors available for any films featuring posh English people and I can’t say I ever feel excited by what I watch.

    However, I think Kristin Scott Thomas is a great actress. Have you seen her in ‘A Handful of Dust’ (one of my favourite films)?

    I’m not sure about Colin Firth. He seems to play the same person in every film and while it might have worked for James Stewart, Cary Grant and Henry Fonda, I find it less endearing in modern actors.

  2. I haven’t seen the film, but I saw her in The Seagull on Broadway, and I think she’s great. I also has a soft spot for Colin Firth, and so you’d think combined with a clever play by Noel Coward I’d be happy.

    The movie was just so off somehow… I’ll have to see about Handful of Dust

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