SYNOPSIS: Public schoolboy Roddy Berwick is expelled from school when he takes the blame for a friend’s charge and his life falls apart in a series of misadventures. – via IMDB
Wow, I don’t think I have ever had such a mission finding a movie poster for something in my life! Well, I have no idea when last I watched a silent movie. It’s been that long that I cannot even remember, and here I landed with two for the Alfred Hitchcock blogathon that Rob and I are hosting! Well, I suppose it was time to have a look see what an early Hitchcock film presented.
At any rate, after starting this, I soon realised that this movie meant silent movie in the absolute extreme… it did not even have a score to back it with (I have heard them with scores to help out). The little text cards for explanation did not come up very often, and I was left floundering as to understanding what I was watching, and what was going on. It looked like Mabel (Annette Benson) had set them up for something. I later found out that Roddy Berwick (Ivor Novello) was being held responsible for her pregnancy, though the child is actually his best friend Tim’s (Robin Irvine). Tim says nothing to correct the accusation that Mabel has brought against Roddy because he cannot afford to lose his scholarship, and Roddy says nothing so as not to take everything from Tim. Roddy’s family is wealthy, and Mabel seems to be using this in her favour.
Roddy is having problems when he informs his father, Sir Thomas Berwick (Norman MicKinnel), he has been expelled from school, and he and his father row. It seems everything is stacked against Roddy. Up until this point, when it finally made sense to me what Roddy was being accused of (thank you so much Wikipedia), I was wondering what he was going to do. The entire bit that followed seemed just a little bit bizarre and extreme, though I am sure it must make perfect sense to some.
Roddy’s luck progressively worsens, after he leaves home he joins the theatre, where he falls in love with an actress, Julia (Isabel Jeans). He finally wins over her affections when he comes into some money, and his saving grace soon becomes his biggest problem. Julia turns out to be a big, cheating mistake, and when she is gone, so is his money. Leaving for Paris, he becomes a gigolo over there. That, too, does not pan out, and he ends up alone and delirious. Life is just not working out for him.
I did like the way that almost every time Roddy took a new blow, something signified everything going “downhill” – such as getting on an escalator, into the elevator, etc. Which was a cool touch. This movie is a drama, and it comes across as such, though there are sometimes where it almost leans out of that.
I must say that the story was very uneven and inconsistent, and the characters were just all over the show. I thought the ending was such a cop out, making the previous time spent watching feel superfluous, which was not good. The limitations on the text cards was also frustrating. Downhill was shot well, but I must say that I am not a fan of silent movies at all. The actors played their parts very well, I am just not big on watching something for a prolonged period and piecing together what is going on and hoping that I am interpreting the silence correctly.