The Pleasure Garden
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlfred Hitchcock
Screenplay byEliot Stannard
Based onThe Pleasure Garden
by Oliver Sandys
Produced by
CinematographyGaetano di Ventimiglia
Music byLee Erwin
Distributed byWoolf & Freedman Film Service (UK)
Release date
  • 12 April 1926 (1926-04-12) (UK)
Running time
90 minutes (2012 restoration)[1]
CountriesUnited Kingdom
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The Pleasure Garden is a 1926 British-German silent drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in his feature film directorial debut. Based on the 1923 novel of the same name by Oliver Sandys, the film is about two chorus girls at the Pleasure Garden Theatre in London and their troubled relationships.[2]


Jill, a young dancer, arrives in London with a letter of introduction to Mr. Hamilton, proprietor of the Pleasure Garden Theatre. The letter and all her money are stolen from her handbag as she waits to see him. Patsy, a chorus girl at the Pleasure Garden, sees her difficulty and offers to take her to her own lodgings and to try to get her a job. Next morning Jill is successful in getting a part in the show. Her fiancé, Hugh, arrives with a colleague called Levet. Hugh and Patsy become very close while Jill is being pursued by a number of rich men, eventually breaking up with Hugh in order to begin a relationship with the wealthy Prince Ivan. Not long after this, Hugh is sent to Africa by his company.

Jill moves out of the lodgings she shares with Patsy and becomes more involved with the Prince. As she becomes more successful and used to the rich and famous lifestyle she also becomes more dismissive of Patsy, shunning her and eventually seeing her as a commoner. As Patsy laments the loss of her friend, she is comforted by Levet who convinces her to enter into marriage with him. The couple honeymoon in Italy before he leaves to join Hugh in Africa. After some time Patsy finally receives a letter from her husband in which he says he has been sick for weeks. Patsy is determined to go to take care of him and asks Jill to lend her the fare. Jill refuses as she is preparing for her marriage to the Prince and has no money to spare. Patsy is able to borrow the fare from her landlords Mr and Mrs Sidey. When she arrives at her husband's bungalow, she finds that he is having an affair with a local woman and leaves. Levet tries to drive the woman away but when she refuses to leave him, follows her into the sea and drowns her.

Meanwhile, Patsy has found that Hugh really is very ill with a fever and stays to take care of him. Hugh has since discovered from a newspaper that Jill is to marry the Prince and he and Patsy soon realize that they love each other. Levet finds them together and accuses Hugh of making advances to his wife. Patsy agrees to follow Levet back to his bungalow in order to save Hugh. During the night, Levet is stricken with guilt and paranoia over the murder of his mistress and begins seeing ghostly visions of her. Levet becomes convinced that the ghost of his mistress will not stop haunting him until he murders Patsy too. Levet corners Patsy with a sword but he is shot dead before he can kill her. Hugh and Patsy find consolation with each other and return to London.



Hitchcock described the casting process thus:

Michael Balcon, who had conceived the idea of "importing" American stars long before anybody else, had engaged Virginia Valli for the leading role. She was at the height of her career then – glamorous, famous, and very popular. That she was coming to Europe to make a picture at all was something of an event.[3]

Producer Michael Balcon allowed Hitchcock to direct the film when Graham Cutts, a jealous executive at Gainsborough Pictures, refused to let Hitchcock work on The Rat.

The film was shot in Italy (Alassio, Genoa, and Lake Como) and Germany. Many misfortunes befell the cast and crew. When Gaetano Ventimiglia, the film's cinematographer, failed to declare the film stock to Italian customs officials, the team had to pay fines and buy new film, seriously depleting their budget.

For the only time in a British Hitchcock production, both lead actresses, Virginia Valli and Carmelita Geraghty, were American.

The film was shot in 1925 and shown briefly in London in April 1926. However, it was not officially released in the UK until January 1927, just before Hitchcock's third film, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, became a hit in February 1927.[1]

Production credits

The production credits on the film were as follows:


A review in an American film magazine called The Pleasure Garden a "sex picture wholely unsuitable for the exhibitor who aims to show good clean entertainment" with "many highly objectionable scenes", making it "not a picture to entertain American audiences".[4]

Preservation status and home media

In June 2012, The Pleasure Garden and eight other silent Hitchcock films were restored by the British Film Institute.[5] As a result, 20 minutes of missing footage was added to this film, including "the atmospheric color tinting of the period".[6] A new score was commissioned for the restoration by young British composer Daniel Patrick Cohen and it has been performed live with the film many times around the world. It has not been released on home video due to a lack of funds to properly record the score.[7]

The only official DVD release contains a poor quality edited version of the film by US collector Raymond Rohauer.[1]The Pleasure Garden has been heavily bootlegged on home video.[8] At the end of 2021, The Pleasure Garden became the first Hitchcock film to enter the public domain in the United States.


According to critic Dave Kehr, The Pleasure Garden's opening scene stands like a virtual "clip reel of Hitchcock motifs to come". The first shot captures chorus girls descending a spiral staircase (see Vertigo); a man uses opera glasses to better appreciate a blonde chorus dancer (see Rear Window); and the same blonde, who at first appears erotically remote, later emerges as down-to-earth and approachable (see Family Plot).[6]


  1. ^ a b c d "Alfred Hitchcock Collectors' Guide: The Pleasure Garden (1925)". Brenton Film.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Hitchcock, Alfred (1936). Hitchcock on Hitchcock: My Screen Memories. University of California Press. p. 8.
  4. ^ "Pleasure Garden". The Film Daily. 38 (26). New York City: Wid's Films and Film Folks, Inc.: 11 31 October 1926. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  5. ^ "How the BFI gave Hitchcock's The Pleasure Garden its rhythm back". The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b Kehr, Dave (19 June 2013). "Hitchcock, Finding His Voice in Silents". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Free the Hitchcock 9!". Brenton Film.
  8. ^ "Bootlegs Galore: The Great Alfred Hitchcock Rip-off". Brenton Film.