Easy Virtue

1080. EASY VIRTUE (1927-England). Directed by ALFRED HITCHCOCK. Based on a play by NOEL COWARD. Socialite Larita Firton, wife of a wealthy but abusive older man with a taste for spirits, winds up in court after Mr. Filton uncovers her affair with a young portrait painter. A divorce is decreed, and Larita is marked a woman of easy virtue. In these opening scenes, Hitchcock is the typical silent film director, trying to fashion a talky stage play into a cinema, in this he more than succeeds, look for the crafted fades and close-ups, and a moving camera that procedes the modem zoom lens. A clock dissolves to a judge’s monocle, trial news is convoyed through snide remarks on a juror’s notepad. We follow Larita from the courtroom to “the more tolerant shores of the Mediterranean.” In an atmosphere of tennis courts and seaside roosts, men in white flannel trousers shake martini cocktails for women in lace dresses with bobbed hair and cloche hats. Fresh flowers abound, and so does romance! Larita meets a sweet young man who knows nothing of her past, about which she keeps silent. After they wed, the couple journeys to the home of the boy’s conservative parents, a sprawling estate in the English countryside. Larita drinks brandy and chain smokes while the other women delicately sip after-dinner coffee. In the lamb-like structure where the liveliest movement is the ivy growing on the walls, Larita suffers the stone stares of her mother-in-law and comes to realize her husband no longer cares for her. Noel Coward had in mind a comedy when he wrote EASY VIRTUE, but the play always was more successful produced as an old-fashioned social melodrama, Even in his early years as direcÂtor, Hitchcock could make grand entertainment from stock stories by creating exciting plot devices and seeking out the finest ways to use filmic technique to tell a story. Seeing EASY VIRTUE is a must for Hitchcock devotees! Silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 87 minutes. Hitchcock