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When Boys Leave Home (1927)

Downhill (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Thriller | 1928 (USA)
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.



(as David L'Estrange), (as David L'Estrange) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
Ben Webster ...
Norman McKinnel ...
Robin Irvine ...
Jerrold Robertshaw ...
The Rev. Henry Wakeley
Sybil Rhoda ...
Sybil Wakeley
Annette Benson ...
Lilian Braithwaite ...
Lady Berwick
Barbara Gott ...
Alf Goddard ...


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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A College Hero round whom is woven a picture of Love and Treachery. (Print ad- The recorder ((Port Pirie, South Australia)) 3 July 1928)


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

When Boys Leave Home  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (2012) (theatrical) | (2012 restoration)

Sound Mix:


(sepia/black & white)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Roddy and the girl are dancing in the candy shop, a gramophone record of a tune called "I want money" is shown. It's on the old "WINNER" label. In a flash back, we see it once again playing on the record player, but in a further flashback, in a montage, the record has become a "His Master's Voice" disc. See more »


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

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Here is a tale of two school-boys who made a pact of loyalty. One of them kept it - at a price.

The World of Youth. See more »


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

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User Reviews

Early Silent Hitchcock is Worthy Viewing
16 January 2016 | by See all my reviews

Classmates and close friends at an English public school, Roddy Berwick and Tim Wakely compete for the affections of a local shop girl. When the girl falsely accuses Roddy of getting her pregnant, he is expelled. However, Roddy remains silent to protect Tim, who was the guilty party, and the friends make a pact to keep silent. Outraged at his expulsion, Roddy's father does not believe his son's claims of innocence and throws him out. Thus, Roddy strikes out on his own, and his life begins a downward spiral from stage acting to a disastrous marriage to taxi dancing to the Marseilles waterfront. "When Boys Leave," also known as "Downhill," was Alfred Hitchcock's fifth completed film, and, early on in his career, the master director explores his oft-repeated theme of the wrongfully accused.

Shot in 1927, the film is silent with inter-titles, and the black-and-white cinematography is often well lit with striking visual compositions. However, Hitchcock generally holds the camera steady, and movement occurs within the frame. The film lacks the camera fluidity common among movies of the late silent era, although Hitchcock is already a master of visual story-telling, and the inter-titles are brief and sparse. As Roddy's life reels out of control, he is dwarfed by his surroundings in rooms with impossibly high ceilings and doors that are more than twice his height. Fortunately, Hitchcock elicits naturalistic performances from his cast, and none indulges in the grand style of acting that negatively stereotyped silent movies. Ivor Novello, a Welsh matinée idol best known for his musical talents, plays the suffering Roddy quite well. Isabel Jeans as Julia Fotheringale, a spendthrift actress, and Ian Hunter as Archie, Julia's shady lover, provide amusing support during one colorful episode in Roddy's descent.

"When Boys Leave" is from Hitchcock's apprentice period in England, when he was still learning the craft. While the story is thin, and the motivations vague, this short silent film shows flashes of the genius to come, and, for students of the master, every Hitchcock film is worthwhile viewing.

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