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Pleasure Garden, The (1926)


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!

The Pleasure Garden theatre, London. Patsy Brand, a dancer in the chorus line, rebuffs an elderly admirer. Later, Jill Cheyne, a young hopeful, arrives with a letter for the manager, but finds her purse stolen, leaving her without money for a cab and no place to stay. Patsy, passing, rescues her from the attentions of two predatory men and offers her a bed for the night. At Patsy's humble flat, Jill explains her ambition to join the company.

Patsy brings Jill to rehearsal, where Jill shows surprising confidence, persuading the manager to let her dance and, when she has demonstrated her talent, shrewdly negotiating a higher salary.

Patsy is alone in her flat when Hugh, Jill's fiancé, calls. He is petting her dog when Patsy enters the room, and she trips over him. Hugh relates his plans to marry Jill after making his fortune in the East. Meanwhile, Jill flirts with the Pleasure Garden's manager. Patsy and Hugh are interrupted by the arrival of Mr Levet, who Hugh introduces as a friend who is to join him in the East. Jill returns and Hugh greets her warmly.

Hugh and Levet go to watch Jill dance, although Levet's eyes are on Patsy. Also in the audience is wealthy Prince Ivan, who introduces himself to Jill after the show. Hugh becomes anxious that Jill will stray in his absence, but Jill promises to look after her.

However, Jill soon gets a flat to herself, and when Patsy begs her not to go out with Prince Ivan, Jill, now the star of the show, treats her with disdain. Patsy runs into Levet and confides her frustration. In need of a friend, she invites him to her flat, where her dog greets him fiercely. Levet expresses his loneliness and tries to kiss her. Reluctant at first, she relents. Levet admits that money will be a problem, and reminds her that he leaves for the East in a month, but Patsy is unconcerned about money, saying she will keep working until he sends for her.

On the day of their wedding, Patsy's dog howls furiously. Patsy and Levet honeymoon in Italy, but Levet begins to reveal a selfish, impatient side. On the day of his departure for the East, Patsy waves him off from the shore, but Levet returns her wave only briefly before settling down with his paper. On arrival, he is warmly greeted by a local girl. Patsy waits for news, but Levet ignores her letters. Meanwhile, Hugh learns of Jill's engagement to Prince Ivan. Levet is unsupportive.

Eventually Levet writes to Patsy, excusing his laxness by claiming to be suffering from fever. Concerned that he should suffer alone, Patsy determines to pay a surprise visit. Arriving, she finds him drunk in the arms of his native lover. She walks out in disgust, but he follows and tries to drag her back, until a local man intervenes. Levet is consumed by rage. As his lover, in despair, walks into the sea, he follows her and drowns her.

The man takes Patsy to Hugh, who has been struck down by a genuine fever. Delirious, Hugh takes Patsy for Jill, and begs her to kiss him. Moved with pity, she does, whereupon he revives enough to recognise her. A drunken Levet arrives and demands Patsy accompanies him, threatening Hugh with violence. She relents.

Levet is now crazed, tormented by visions of his dead lover. He convinces himself that killing Patsy will set him free. Grabbing a sword, he advances on the cowering Patsy, but Hugh's colleague arrives and shoots him. Patsy is comforted by the recovering Hugh.