Garden of Eden The (1928)
A young Viennese girl Toni LeBrun (Corinne Griffith) determined not to stay in her current situation living with her aunt and uncle working in their pretzel bakery earns a correspondence course degree as an opera singer. She decides to leave her small town life traveling to Budapest to answer an ad from the Palais de Paris. However the ad was a sham – a way to get girls for cheap stage shows and more for its wealthier clientele.
When she arrives Toni is confused when the manager Madame Bauer (Maude George) asks her to show her legs in lieu of exhibiting her singing voice; she is hired nonetheless. Still ignorant of the set-up she refuses to wear the skimpy costume assigned and is given a white “puritan” costume instead. Before the show the manager greets aristocrat Henri D’Avril (Lowell Sherman) giving him a “menu” of the showgirls from which to choose. When he asks if there is anyone new he is directed to Toni’s name on the program. When Toni begins her performance in earnest the audience starts to slumber given her conservative dress. But the manager directs a lighting change which causes her translucent clothing become highly revealing. Through their reaction Toni realizes what has happened and runs off the stage where she is comforted by the wardrobe woman Rosa (Louise Dresser) the only friend she’s made since arriving in the city.
However Madame Bauer is not through with Toni yet; she has arranged a rendezvous for her with D’Avril in a room off the stage. Once locked inside with Toni he quickly tries to take advantage. She struggles against his advances which are heard by Rosa who is able to come to her rescue. When Madame Bauer discovers that her client didn’t get what he wanted she fires Toni and Rosa on the spot. Conveniently Rosa was about to leave on a vacation anyway and persuades the forlorn Toni to go with her. They go to Monte Carlo but Toni is now suspicious of other people’s motives. So when Rosa signs the Eden Hotel register as “Baroness & her daughter” Toni accuses her of being no better than Madame Bauer. However Rosa has documentation which proves that she is in fact a Baroness and tells Toni that she signed the registration that way because she wishes it were so. Hugs kisses etc..
Later when Toni is playing the piano in her room she is spotted through the window from across the courtyard by Richard (Charles Ray). In one of the many amusing scenes in the film he tries to get her attention by signaling her turning on & off the lights in his room. As a gag she responds with same causing everyone else on his entire side of the hotel to do it too. When Rosa sees it she stops the “lightning bug” nonsense. However Richard then decides to call Toni’s room but Rosa answers and decides to invite him over to put a stop to “it”. She plays the piano while she waits for Richard to arrive. But he arrives at Rosa’s door where Toni is. Tired of unwanted suitors she appears uninterested in his flirting yet doesn’t reveal him when Rosa returns & he hides behind a door. Colonel Dupont (Edward Martindel) arrives to call on Rosa but is instantly entranced by Toni. In the doorway he asks the two ladies to dinner which is witnessed by Richard who just moments earlier had escaped from their room via another door. Upon hearing their acceptance Richard joins them revealing that the Colonel is his uncle. After the dinner Richard takes Toni for a walk through the hotel’s grounds and garden (the title of the film) and they fall in love losing track of the time.
The rest of the film has Toni being wooed by both Richard and his uncle with a song one of them wrote on the piano. However there is a surprise involving D’Avril which threatens a happy ending for Toni. This silent was directed by Lewis Milestone All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).