Downhill is a 1927 British silent drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ivor Novello, Robin Irvine and Isabel Jeans, and based on the play Down Hill by Novello and Constance Collier. The film was produced by Gainsborough Pictures at their Islington studios. Downhill was Hitchcock’s fourth film as director, but the fifth to be released. Its American alternative title was When Boys Leave Home.
At an expensive English boarding school for boys, Roddy Berwick is school captain and star rugby player. He and his best friend Tim Wakeley start seeing a waitress, Mabel, who tells the headmaster that she is pregnant and that Roddy is the father. However, Tim is the father, and he cannot afford to be expelled because he needs to win a scholarship to attend the University of Oxford. Promising Tim that he will never reveal the truth, Roddy accepts expulsion.
Returning to his parents’ home, Roddy finds that his father Sir Thomas Berwick believes him guilty of the false accusation. Roddy leaves home an finds work as an actor at a theatre, then marries lead actress Julia Fotheringale after inheriting £30,000 from a relation. Julia secretly continues an affair with her leading man Archie and discards Roddy after his inheritance is exhausted. He becomes a taxi dancer (implying that he is also a gigolo) in a Paris dance hall but soon quits, disgusted that he has been romancing older women for money.
Roddy ends up alone and delirious in a shabby room in Marseilles. Some sailors take pity on him and ship him back home, possibly hoping for a reward. Roddy’s father has learned the truth about the waitress’s false accusation during his son’s absence and joyfully welcomes him back. Roddy resumes his previous life.