Easy Virtue (1928)

Alfred Hitchcock adapts Noël Coward’s melodrama about a divorced woman rejected by society.

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“Easy Virtue is possibly the finest example of the purely literary film-making so prevalent in England during the twenties. Yet Hitchcock raises it above the norm”. Richard A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky, The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, 1976

Based on Noël Coward’s stage hit, Easy Virtue offers another early example of one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite themes, the ‘wrong man’ (or in this case woman), forced to become an outsider because of universally presumed guilt.

After Larita Filton (Isabel Jeans) is unjustly accused of having an affair, her husband divorces her and she flees to the South of France to escape the publicity. There, she falls in love and hopes to start afresh – but her would-be fiancé’s mother has other ideas when they find out about her past. Although regarded as one of Hitchcock’s lesser films (not least by the director himself), partly owing to censorship that limited the original play’s critique of sexual mores, Easy Virtue nevertheless contains some witty visual flourishes.

Noël Coward’s plays have inspired many acclaimed and successful movies, including the Oscar-winning Cavalcade (1932), the witty Blithe Spirit (1945) and, most famously, the classic British romance Brief Encounter (1945).

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