Down 3,312 this week

When Boys Leave Home (1927)
"Downhill" (original title)

 |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller  |  1928 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.2/10 from 1,094 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 17 critic

Public schoolboy Roddy Berwick is expelled from school when he takes the blame for a friend's charge and his life falls apart in a series of misadventures.



(play) (as David L'Estrange) , (play) (as David L'Estrange) , 1 more credit »
0Check in

Watch Now

Free at Internet Archive


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 37 titles
created 31 May 2012
a list of 45 titles
created 23 Mar 2013
a list of 23 titles
created 23 Jun 2013
a list of 46 titles
created 04 Aug 2013
a list of 21 titles
created 1 month ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: When Boys Leave Home (1927)

When Boys Leave Home (1927) on IMDb 6.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of When Boys Leave Home.



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Saboteur (1942)
Action | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run across the United States when he is wrongly accused of starting a fire that killed his best friend.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger
Topaz (1969)
Certificate: M Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Frederick Stafford, Dany Robin, John Vernon
I Confess (1953)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Refusing to give into police investigators' questions of suspicion, due to the seal of confession, a priest becomes the prime suspect in a murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden
Lifeboat (1944)
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Walter Slezak
Family Plot (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Lighthearted suspense film about a phony psychic/con artist and her taxi driver/private investigator boyfriend who encounter a pair of serial kidnappers while trailing a missing heir in California.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris
Short | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

The Moliere players are in their dressing room, getting ready to go on set. One actor mentions to another that his face reminds him of an opportunist turncoat he knew when he was in the ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Paul Bonifas, Paul Clarus, Jean Dattas
Suspicion (1941)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke
The 39 Steps (1935)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim
Torn Curtain (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An American scientist publicly defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin and then figuring out a plan to escape back to the West.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Lila Kedrova
The Wrong Man (1956)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

True story of an innocent man mistaken for a criminal.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle
Comedy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The trouble with Harry is that he's dead, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what needs to be done with his body...

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Short documentary film about the Dumbarton Oaks plan and the proposed formation of the United Nations.

Directors: John Cromwell, Harold F. Kress, and 2 more credits »
Stars: John Nesbitt, Edward R. Stettinius Jr., Jonathan Hale


Cast overview:
Ben Webster ...
Dr. Dawson
Norman McKinnel ...
Sir Thomas Berwick
Robin Irvine ...
Tim Wakely
Jerrold Robertshaw ...
Rev. Henry Wakely
Sybil Rhoda ...
Sybil Wakely
Annette Benson ...
Lilian Braithwaite ...
Lady Berwick
Julia Fotheringale
Ian Hunter ...
Hannah Jones ...
The Dressmaker
Barbara Gott ...
Madame Michet
Violet Farebrother ...
The Poet
Alf Goddard ...
The Swede


Public schoolboy Roddy Berwick is expelled from school when he takes the blame for a friend's charge and his life falls apart in a series of misadventures. Written by Col Needham <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

When Boys Leave Home  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (2012) (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Upon returning home, the placement of Lady Berwick's hands changes from one shot to another. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Dawson: I wish you had more boys like Roddy to send us, Sir Thomas.
See more »


Featured in Paul Merton Looks at Alfred Hitchcock (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"The world of lost illusions"
8 September 2010 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock, despite all his ability, was undeniably a largely mechanical filmmaker. His approach was one of planning and manipulation rather than aesthetics or feeling. Not a bad thing in itself, so long as that cold mechanical mind could be put to the purposes of intrigue and excitement, as it would at the peak of his career. The trouble then with his earliest efforts is that they have all that technical intricacy without that much needed focus on reaching the audience as entertainment.

His silent films in particular seem to lurch all over the place, and are proof that the term "experimental film" generally means a bad one. After all, if you know how to do it properly you don't need to experiment, do you? Downhill, unlike the films made immediately before and after, has less of the camera trickery that characterises Hitch's early work, the exceptions being a couple of mobile point of view shots in the Headmaster's office scene, and the rather extravagant finale, which believe me is nothing compared to the obtrusive bag of tricks Hitch employs in, say, Champagne (1928).

Instead, the director focuses far more on the expression and gesture of the actors and the cunning arrangement of shots to reveal what is going on. Much of this is technique that Hitch appropriated from screenwriter Eliot Stannard, who actually predates Eisenstein in theories of montage, and the various inserts of reactions and concurrent bits of business – like the crosscutting from the courting couple to Ivor Novello dealing with the young customers in the shop scene – seem to fit in with the theories Stannard set out in film articles in the 1910s. A more Hitchcockian manoeuvre on display here is the beginning of scenes with close-ups, with gradual pull-back-and-reveal shots to give context. Often the opening shot, focusing on a single character or an item like a cap with the word "honour" on it, serves almost like a chapter heading. Gradually the shots become wider, giving more context to the scene, often finishing with a hauntingly empty wide shot – one that in another director's work might introduce a sequence. In one scene Hitchcock playfully confounds our expectations several times over, by starting with Novello in a posh outfit, pulling back to reveal he is in fact a waiter, then pulling back again to reveal the restaurant is part of a stage set.

This more subtle approach by Hitchcock is very welcome, but the trouble is he seems a little over-confident in his own abilities. Downhill contains very few intertitles, but the action is not quite coherent enough to make up for them. The shop scene in particular is very confusing, and synopsis writers cannot even seem to agree whether Novello is being falsely accused of stealing or getting a woman pregnant. The latter is less obvious but makes much more sense. The focus on people and their actions is a bonus at least, and we get to see a bit more character from Ivor Novello as compared to his rather leaden personality in The Lodger, but the handsome chappy still cannot really act. And it's nothing but mugging and crazy stares from the rest of the cast, I'm afraid.

But perhaps I am missing the point. The incident in the shop could be regarded as an early example of the "MacGuffin" – an otherwise unimportant device which serves only to drive the plot forward – and as such its details are of no consequence. And certainly, this rather trite plot of a man disowned by his family for some social misdemeanour, who descends the slippery slope until he ends up becoming a gigolo for fat French women… is certainly one which could bear a bit of style over substance. And isn't it in some ways the essence of cinema to conjure up atmosphere or visual delight, with coherence and plot detail being of secondary concern? All this is true, and yet the purpose of a motion picture is to tell a story, whether it be the ostensible one of plot, or an emotional one at a more human, character-driven level, and this is something Downhill fails to provide.

11 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Where can I buy a copy of this film? ragmsmd
What happened in the shop ? AlexanderSebastian
Does anyone know who composed the music from downhill on the french dvd harlock59
Discuss When Boys Leave Home (1927) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: