Silent film with live music!

The Vortex was one of three silent film versions of Coward plays made by producer Michael Balcon at London’s Gainsborough Pictures in one year: 1927. The story of a drug-addicted son and his adulterous mother, it had enough trouble getting a censor’s certificate as a stage play. It was Shakespeare who helped the cause. “If we ban this,” the censor reported, “we shall have to ban Hamlet.” The film version had its own problems The script was passed but only if the son didn’t take drugs and the mother remained monogamous. The film’s editor, Ivor Montagu, summed it up thusly: “So now it’s ‘Mummy, will you give up teas and dances if I give up cigarettes and aspirins?’” The son, Nicky, was played by England’s leading matinee idol, Ivor Novello, of whom Coward once said, “The two most perfect things are Ivor’s profile and my mind.” In The Vortex, you can see something of both.