Champagne (Live Piano Accompaniment)
August 1, 2013
A screwball comedy laced with despair, Champagne conjures a fair amount of Hitchcockian suspicion in spite of its frivolous characters. Comedienne Betty Balfour stars as a spoiled heiress used to being the life of the party. Her father’s ruin sends her looking for work at a cabaret, where she experiences a decidedly Germanic fall from grace. Hitchcock films the decadent hotel with deep focus and fluid long takes, lending a cool degree of realism to the otherwise titillating atmosphere. Standing on the periphery is a mysterious and menacing gentleman who surveys the bedlam through his glass of bubbly. Among the film’s other visual concoctions are superimposed hallucinations, a mugging filmed entirely from the waist down, and the first ever freeze-frame to be used in a film.