Earlier this year, the British Film Institute completed the largest restoration project in its history, creating pristine new prints of Alfred Hitchcock’s nine surviving silent movies, which had fallen into terrible shape over the past eight decades. The current restorations—screening at the Music Box from Friday through Tuesday—are reportedly the best these films have looked in generations. Casual Hitchcock fans may be surprised to learn that most of them aren’t thrillers. The “Hitchcock 9” lineup includes three screwball comedies (The Pleasure Garden, Champagne, the Noel Coward adaptation Easy Virtue), a boxing picture (The Ring), and a melodrama set in a small fishing community (The Manxman). Several screenings will feature live musical scores, with the Colorado-based chamber ensemble the Mont Alto Orchestra accompanying Blackmail (Fri 8/9, 8:30 PM), The Lodger (Sat 8/10, 8:30 PM), and The Ring (Sun 8/11, 6:30 PM), and local organist Dennis Scott accompanying five other screenings. —Ben Sachs
Champagne A rarely screened Hitchcock oddity from 1928. It’s a comedy, ostensibly, in which a millionaire pretends to be broke in order to discourage his daughter’s marriage to a man he considers unsuitable. She gets a job hustling drinks in a Parisian cabaret, where one of the most popular boissons is the very champagne her father manufactures. Though made on assignment (as a vehicle for the popular British comedienne Betty Balfour), the film is permeated with Hitchcock’s characteristic sense of instability, complete with subthemes of voyeurism and vertigo. The direction is lively and often overinventive, as was frequently the case during the early, experimental phase of his career. With Jack Trevor and Gordon Harker. —Dave Kehr 86 min. Organist Dennis Scott will accompany the screening. Sat 8/10, 6 PM.
Downhill Silent-era star Ivor Novello stars in as a public schoolboy falsely accused of getting a girl pregnant, triggering his downfall. This 1927 melodrama was Alfred Hitchcock’s fifth feature film as director, also known as When Boys Leave Home. 74 min. Sun 8/11, 9 PM.
Easy Virtue A rarely screened Hitchcock silent (1928), adapted from a Noel Coward melodrama. Isabel Jeans stars as the wife of an alcoholic and the lover of a suicidal man. With Eric Bransby Williams, Franklin Dyall, and Ian Hunter. 80 min. Organist Dennis Scott will accompany the screening. Sat 8/10, 3:30 PM.
The Farmer’s Wife Seldom seen in the U.S., this rare Hitchcock silent (1928), based on a London stage play, is a pastoral comedy about a country gentleman seeking a bride among the unpromising prospects of his home county. Hitchcock disliked the film, but it offers an unusual glimpse of the master before he settled into thrillers. Matters of marriage were always much on his mind. —Dave Kehr 129 min. Organist Dennis Scott will accompany the screening. Mon 8/12, 8:30 PM.
The Manxman This rare Hitchcock film, from 1929, was his last silent. The Isle of Man provides a vertiginous backdrop for a classic Hitchcock triangle, involving Anny Ondra and Carl Brisson. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s certainly something to see: Hitchcock’s early work is full of surprises, dramatic and stylistic, including such trivial delights as the first recorded freeze frame (in Champagne). These are the experiments from which his genius grew. —Dave Kehr 110 min. Organist Dennis Scott will accompany the screening. Tue 8/13, 8:30 PM.
The Pleasure Garden Shot in Munich, Alfred Hitchcock’s first feature (1926) is a silent British melodrama about two chorus girls (Virginia Valli and Carmelita Geraghty). 75 min. Organist Dennis Scott will accompany the screening. Sun 8/11, 3:30 PM.