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The Hitchcock 9: Rare Silents Restored

August 16, 2013 - August 31, 2013

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“The silent pictures were the purest form of cinema.”—Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock directed a string of exuberantly inventive silent features between 1925 and 1929, but for all the fame of their director, many of these works have been accessible only in inferior prints—if they were available at all. Now, in the most ambitious restoration effort it has ever undertaken, the British Film Institute has digitally restored all nine of Hitchcock’s surviving silents, not only creating cleaner, crisper images but recovering original material that had gone missing from available prints. Presented in conjunction with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, this series brings “The Hitchcock 9” to the East Bay, offering a chance to discover new dimensions of Hitchcock’s work and observe a master’s style in the making.

By the time he landed his first directing assignment, The Pleasure Garden, at age twenty-five, Hitchcock had already worked as a title designer, scriptwriter, art director, and assistant director. His early films evidence both a precocious facility for visual storytelling and an enthusiasm for technical experimentation. “There was much dabbling about in so-called versatility before I found my niche,” he said of his youthful work, and his silent films are indeed varied in genre and tone, including comedies and melodramas as well as the thrillers that would become his stock in trade. Yet these works foreshadow many of Hitchcock’s later themes and motifs—from the ambiguities of guilt and innocence to the blonde object of desire—and show that his stylistic audacity and distinctive humor were well established from the first.

Juliet Clark, Guest Writer

Friday, August 16, 2013
7:00 p.m. The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1926). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Hitchcock’s first foray into the thriller genre, starring Ivor Novello as the eponymous lodger who just may be a serial killer. The director himself called it “the first true Hitchcock movie.” (90 mins)

Saturday, August 17, 2013
6:15 p.m. The Ring
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1927). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. In the world of boxing, hungry amateurs vie with professional prizefighters for money, status, and love. (108 mins)

Sunday, August 18, 2013
7:00 p.m. The Farmer’s Wife
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1928). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. A widowed farmer attempts to find himself a new wife in this rare Hitchcock venture into romantic comedy. (107 mins)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
7:00 p.m. The Pleasure Garden
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1926). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Hitchcock’s first feature, a tale of two chorus girls in love, already displays his signature mix of visual invention, sexual provocation, and winking humor. (75 mins)

Friday, August 23, 2013
7:00 p.m. Blackmail
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1929). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. A dark, guilt-obsessed tale about a woman who kills her attempted rapist and the cover-up that follows. (78 mins)

Saturday, August 24, 2013
6:15 p.m. Downhill
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1927). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Downhill mixes cynical humor with sexual horror as it tracks Ivor Novello’s descent from upstanding British schoolboy to Montmartre gigolo. (105 mins)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
7:00 p.m. Champagne
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1928). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. Betty Balfour is a frivolous flapper whose millionaire father looks to teach her a lesson in frugality by letting her think he’s gone bankrupt. (105 mins)

Friday, August 30, 2013
7:00 p.m. Easy Virtue
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1927). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. An adaptation of the Noël Coward play, a drama about an uptight British society family. With one of the first cameos by the director. (82 mins)

Saturday, August 31, 2013
6:15 p.m. The Manxman
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1929). Digital Restoration! Judith Rosenberg on piano. A powerful love triangle set among the fishing community on the Isle of Man. Hitchcock’s last silent. (90 mins)

The Hitchcock 9 is presented in conjunction with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Series curated by Senior Film Curator Susan Oxtoby. Thanks to the following for their assistance with this retrospective: Margaret Deriaz, Christine Whitehouse, George Watson, Andrew Youdell, BFI; Bruce Goldstein, Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto Pictures; and Anita Monga, Stacey Wisnia, Lucia Pier, San Francisco Silent Film Festival.