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Champagne (1928)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Betty, a wealthy heiress, infuriates her Father by her frivolous behaviour when she commandeers his aeroplane to join her lover on an ocean liner midway across the Atlantic. On board the liner, Betty is reunited with the Boy, and observed by a slightly sinister Man. When the Boy, suffering from seasickness, fails to appear at dinner, Betty is joined at her table by the Man, who makes conversation until the arrival of a telegram from her Father, berating her for her actions and insisting that the Boy is only after her money. She laughs off the telegram, and goes to call on the Boy, who is still sick in his cabin. When she informs him that she has arranged for the ship's Captain to marry them, the Boy takes issue with what he sees as her controlling behaviour, and the couple argue.

Arriving in France, the two separate, but when the boy appears at her Paris apartment to offer his apologies, he finds her entertaining guests, including the sinister Man, and parading a succession of expensive new outfits. When the Boy criticises her ostentatious gowns, she is offended, but their quarrel is interrupted by the arrival of her Father. He informs her that a turn in the stock market has wiped out his fortune, leaving them both ruined. When she bitterly passes this news on to the Boy, he is surprised, but seeing her with her disapproving Father, resolves to leave. The Father takes this as a further example of the Boy's unsuitability.

In desparation, Betty determines to sell her jewellery, but on the way to the jewellers she is robbed, and she and her Father find themselves reduced to sharing a tiny run-down Paris apartment. Despite her efforts to look after her Father, Betty proves a hopeless cook, and unbeknown to her, her Father chooses instead to eat in an expensive retaurant. In his absence, she is visited by the Boy, who has come to offer both of them his help. Offended, she rejects him, vowing to get a job. He is dismissive, then leaves.

Undeterred, Betty finds herself a job at a swanky nightclub, although she gets off to a bad start with the Maitre d', particularly when, told to give carnations to the suited gentlemen, he finds her handing them out to, and flirting with, the members of the orchestra. Later, she is spotted by the Man, who invites her to join him at his table. Uncomfortable, she agrees, but in her anxiety she imagines the Man attempting violently to seduce her, and she is greatly relieved when the two are interrupted by the Boy. Before departing, the Man offers her a note, which invites her to call on him if ever she finds herself in difficulty. The Boy is shamed by her predicament and when, to provoke him, she starts to dance, he leaves in disgust.

Later, the Boy returns with her Father, who is outraged at her disgrace. When she defends herself, he reveals that he invented the story of his bankruptcy in order to teach her a lesson. At first releaved, she then becomes upset and bitter, accusing both her Father and the Boy of humiliating her. Remembering the Man's offer of help, she runs to him, to find him preparing to leave for America. Delighted at the thought of returning home, she accompanies him.

On the boat, she is horrified to find herself locked in her cabin, until she is surprised by the arrival of the Boy. Delighted, they embrace, but he is forced to hide in the bathroom when she hears the Man returning. When the Man enters, he is accompanied by her father, who informs her that the man is a friend, who he hired to prevent her marriage to the Boy. Hearing this, the Boy abandons his hiding place to attack the Man, but is pacified by the Father, who indicates that he no longer opposes the wedding. Reunited, the couple return to discussing the wedding, although they soon begin to bicker again.