Strange we should meet in a place like this…
I treated myself to a biographical book about Hitch (I think I've watched enough films to be able to start calling him that now!) written by Peter Ackroyd. It's not a massively in-depth study like the Truffaut interviews (which I'm deliberately avoiding for a bit longer as they do basically spoil every film!!) but more of a whirlwind tour of his life in general, which suits me at this stage.
Reading more into his early childhood, growing up in Leytonstone (and later, Poplar) in London it's given me the urge to go explore that area a little next time I'm up in the big smoke (hopefully they'll let me in… I voted remain… I VOTED REMAIN!!!) especially as I've read the tube station has mosaics of all his best known films as part of it's decor. It's a shame to read that the house he was born in no longer stands and has been replaced by a Jet petrol station, (affectionately known as the Alfred Hitchcock Birthplace Museum by this tongue-in-cheek blog!) but the garage still proudly wears a blue plaque with his name none-the-less.
I was completely encapsulated by this little black and white silent treasure hidden away in my Hitchcock box set of earlier works. I put it on on a Wednesday (normally I watch these films at the weekend) as I didn't expect much of it and I just had to do some catching up on the backlog. So I was genuinely taken aback by how good and inspiring it was for a film of its time…
Betty (played conveniently by Betty Balfour) is an extremely interesting character, full of life and charm. We could all do well to be a little more like Betty perhaps, and I think that's what surprised me about this movie. I went into it thinking, oh look, here's Betty, she's rich and spoilt and she's going to learn a lesson or two about privilege and honest work and come out of it a better person… 'like the rest of us' (ha!).
Well I was happy to be completely wrong. Betty is lovely, although maybe a little naive, but her heart is in the right place throughout the whole film. No matter how rich or poor she is, all she does is give, give, give. If anything, it is her love interest who needs to learn a lesson or two about opening up to the love she exudes and stop worrying about class and image!
Betty doesn't really learn a whole lot from her experience in the film, because she doesn't need too. Her father and potential fiancé don't really seem to learn the lessons they need too, I felt, by the outcome but they do seem to mellow and become more accepting of Betty's ways.
Perhaps that is why the film is called champagne (there honestly wasn't much of the drink in the film so far as I could tell) as no matter how long you leave it to mature, it's always going to stay fun and bubbly, just as it should be!