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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.


Alfred Hitchcock


Constance Collier (as David L'Estrange), Ivor Novello (as David L'Estrange) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Ivor Novello ... Roddy Berwick
Ben Webster ... Dr. Dowson
Norman McKinnel ... Sir Thomas Berwick
Robin Irvine ... Tim Wakeley
Jerrold Robertshaw Jerrold Robertshaw ... The Rev. Henry Wakeley
Sybil Rhoda ... Sybil Wakeley
Annette Benson ... Mabel
Lilian Braithwaite ... Lady Berwick
Isabel Jeans ... Julia Fotheringale
Ian Hunter ... Archie
Hannah Jones ... Dresser
Barbara Gott ... Madame Michet
Violet Farebrother ... Poetess
Alf Goddard Alf Goddard ... Sailor


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:

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Did You Know?


When Alfred Hitchcock looked back on this film, he was quite critical of it and felt that the symbolism he used was a touch too obvious. See more »


When Sir Thomas offers a drink to his guest, he does so with his right hand and then transfers his own glass from his left to his right hand and drinks. There is a cut to a full face of Sir Thomas, but he is now seen drinking from the glass in his left hand. After another cut, he is back to drinking with his right hand. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Dawson: I wish you had more boys like Roddy to send us, Sir Thomas.
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Referenced in Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense (2013) See more »


I Want Some Money
Words by Herbert Rule & Fred Holt.
Music by L. Silberman.
Played on the gramophone machine by Mabel; even though Downhill is a silent film, the accompanying music would have referenced this song as it underscores elements of the plot.
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User Reviews

Hitch starts to show his style...
24 September 2004 | by SinjinSBSee all my reviews

My copy of this movie is truly silence with no musical score. Whenever I watch a movie that is completely silent, initially I find it a little hard. But when the film is well made, as this one is, it doesn't take long to adjust and focus on the story as you are drawn into it. I feel Hitchcock was a master of the silent film genre with his ability to tell such a deep story with very few intertitles. Relying instead on the expressions of the actors and written notes and signs in the movie, without having to cut away to an intertitle, which allows the film to flow more fluidly instead of constant cutting between the live action and the title cards. Ivor Novello in the lead role of Roddy and in his prior work with Hitchcock in The Lodger really impressed me with his talent of conveying his feelings strictly through facial expressions and acting without the use of sound. Hitch is also good at using subtle exaggeration and focus on action to help take the place of the sound in his silent films.

The story is that of a young man in school who is falsely accused of theft by a lady that he had danced with and he is willing to take the blame for a friend of his and is expelled from school. This leads to the downhill spiral of his life as leaves home after his father calls him a "LIAR!". Things get worse from there as ends up working as a gigolo in Paris, getting in fights, losing a large sum of money, and eventually hitting bottom.

In this film we really begin seeing a lot of Hitchcock's visual style that he is so famous for. He has some really good use of fades and graphic matches between scenes. Two of my favorite where the fading out on the pocket watch and into a large clock, and the other being the scene where he fades out on a photograph and then back in on the real person. I really enjoyed the symbolic shot of Roddy heading down the escalator, showing us that is in heading downhill in his life. And my favorite "Hitch" shot in this movie was the point-of-view shot when the lady was leaning back in her chair and it cuts to Roddy walking into the room and we see him upside down on the screen. I also thought Hitchcock did a great job of portraying Roddy's seasickness towards the end of the film. I really enjoy seeing Hitchcock's style developing in his early silent films, that will become so prominent in his later, more famous movies. I also really appreciate Hitch's working in comedic scenes into his serious movies. My favorite humorous scene in this movie is the peashooter scene early in the film.

Without giving too much away, I would have liked to see a more typical Hitchcock ending to this film.

*** (out of 4 stars)

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Release Date:

1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

When Boys Leave Home See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Gainsborough Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:



Black and White (sepia/black & white)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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