Silent Saturday: Donwhill


1927 drama

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A kid's life falls to pieces after he accepts responsibility for his pal's misdeed.

I haven't watched nearly enough silent movies in the past few years. To make up for it, I'm going to do one a week in 2017, and I might as well do them on Saturdays because then I can call it Silent Saturday and show off my alliteration skills. The kids love that sort of thing.

This is known as When Boys Leave Home in America, but I'm not the biggest fan of America right now and will use the British title.

I decided to start with this Alfred Hitchcock film that I'd never heard of. The story, in which we get to watch a poor protagonist's life unravel from one decision, is intriguing enough, and Hitchcock's style starts to come through a bit. There are some great shots, a little camera trickery, and a lack of dependence on any title cards to tell the story that show off the director's gifts. I thought Ivor Novello's performance was really good though the whole production does suffer a bit from some of the problems plaguing 1920's melodrama. A scene with a fever dream with a dizzying use of superimposition is a standout.

I'd recommend this to anybody who likes Hitchcock's better-known stuff as if foreshadows some of the master's style.


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