HitchcOctober Day 12: Downhill

Two boarding school students and best friends, Roddy and Tim (Ivor Novello and Robin Irvine) are invited by Mabel, one of the serving maids (Annette Benson) to visit her in the shop she works (Ye Olde Bunne Shoppe, love it) after school one day. She just wants Roddy to be there, and dances and kisses him, but he convinces her to dance with Tim as well. Roddy becomes distracted by children in the shop and Tim takes Mabel into the back and has his way with her. Later, the two boys are called into their headmaster’s office, where Mabel blames Roddy for her pregnancy, because his father is wealthy and can pay for it, whereas Tim is relying on a scholarship. Roddy, despite being a star rugby player and freshly dubbed Captain of the School, is thrown out, and deemed a liar by his father, prompting Roddy to leave home, becoming a penniless waiter whose life continues to get worse and worse with every new person he meets.3M4FD3JoZNgp0UCdJ6ckgJzNxZb
If there is a moral to this film, it’s either never do anything to help your friends, or don’t trust women, because they’re all money-grabbing whores. The whole reason Roddy goes through his many ordeals is because when Mabel accuses him of being the father to her unborn child, neither Tim nor Roddy says anything, despite them both knowing the accusation to be false. They both acknowledge their respective financial positions, but Tim essentially stands back and allows Roddy to live the fate he was destined for. Roddy accepts this due to their friendship, but really how good of a friend is Tim to allow it all to happen? Also, every woman Roddy meets in the film causes him to take another spiralling turn downwards. At one point he comes into a stroke of luck in the form of a large sum of money, but as soon as he marries a beautiful and successful actress Julia (Isabel Jeans) she spends it all, before playing around with her former lover and kicking Roddy out onto the street. Roddy’s father doesn’t even give his son a chance to explain his side of the story, and the only help he ever gets throughout the film comes from people who see the potential for their own profit from the circumstances.4942
Plot-wise, significant characters who are installed early in the film – such as Tim and Mabel – are never seen again once Roddy leaves the school, whilst others are introduced for utterly no reason, such as the character of Tim’s sister, who is in one scene, wherein her purpose is to be introduced as Tim’s sister, and then disappears entirely. This was frustrating, especially the lack of closure for those early people who instigated the plot but never got what they deserved. Other characters didn’t seem to fit the roles they were assigned to, for example the ever-sneezing male companion of Julia’s, who at times could be either her father or her romantic partner, but logically can be neither for the entirety of the story to work.8453
There was some nice staging, particularly the early dancing lit from behind via a bead curtain, but the most significant factor I left the film with was that, even back in 1927, they has escalators in the subways. Mind = blown.downhill-011
Choose Life 4/10

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One thought on “HitchcOctober Day 12: Downhill

  1. Pingback: HitchcOctober Final Re-Cap | Life Vs Film

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