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Hi-Jackers / Smokescreen [DVD]

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

Dispatched from and sold by Renown Pictures Ltd.
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£12.00 In stock. Dispatched from and sold by Renown Pictures Ltd.

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Product details

  • Actors: Anthony Booth, Derek Francis, Peter Vaughan, Deryck Guyler
  • Directors: Jim O'Connolly
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Renown Productions Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Mar. 2010
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003IKKJK0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,400 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Double Bill: Hi-Jackers - Terry, a lorry driver, meets Shirley at a roadside cafe and offers her a lift. His truck carrying a valuable shipment of whiskey is later hijacked, but who tipped off the hijackers? Smokescreen - A parsimonious insurance assessor is assigned the task of investigating the mysterious death of a businessman. Was it an accident? Suicide or something more sinister?

Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A little over a decade ago, ITV1 (or simply `ITV', as it still was in the late 1990s) went through a phase of padding out their overnight schedules with broadcasts of British B-movies from the 1950s and 1960s, thus providing a mild diversion for shift workers, insomniacs, and a few dedicated fans of British film. Eventually, the channel's supply of these flicks dried up, and these low-key second features seemed destined to slip back into the obscurity from which they had unexpectedly sprung; however, two of the movies featured during the 'ITV Night Time' run have now turned up on DVD, in this bargain-priced double bill.
The weaker of the two movies is The Hi-Jackers (1963), made by the journeyman director Jim O' Connolly under the banner of Butcher's Film Distributors, and starring Till Death Us Do Part's Anthony Booth as a lorry driver targeted by gentleman thief Derek Francis' hold-up gang. The movie's premise and story are actually quite original, and the surprisingly charismatic Booth is convincing as the `have-a-go' hero. We get nice support from jobbing actors like Arthur English and the ubiquitous Marianne Stone, and a couple of witty lines here and there. However, where the film fails to convince is in its portrayal of the criminal mob; Francis' `mastermind' is a middle class fop who enjoys cosy picnics with his `boys' after each successful job, and the gang is made up of nothing but stock stereotypes. Particularly unfortunate is that the name of the Francis character happens to be `Jack Carter', inviting unwelcome comparisons with the Mike Hodges / Michael Caine classic Get Carter (1971), an infinitely more compelling and realistic look at organised crime.
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By A. W. Wilson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It sometimes surprises me how many people really seem to love vintage 50's/60's "B" pictures from small studios - Butchers being a very prolific one. I can't always find logical reasons why I like (most) of them, but I do, and here is a great Double Bill, which if it wasn't for a kind remark from Alan James I might just have forgotten to order. Anyway, I have just finished the second, and can highly recomend them both as first rate examples of the genre. Cheap, yes, but they both have that "something". Some think "HI-JACKERS" the more inferior of the 2 and it is - just. Jacqueline Ellis is surprisingly effective, and so is...Anthony Booth (never thought I'd say that). The crooks are good, but very unreal as another writer has noted. It moves along well and at 66' is never boring. "SMOKESCREEN" is a minor classic (perhaps not a major one). Peter Vaughan grabs his chance to be a lead, and makes every scene count, and Director Jim must have loved Yvonne Romain, well, don't we all?, as he has plenty of closeups. I had forgotten who the murderer is, and didn't guess. This is an unpretentious double bill, well worth the price and a must for fans of a certain age. Quality of both prints is good (but how come a difference in screen ratio? Can anyone explain that, as I am not very technical!!)
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This double bill of black and white Butchers B-movies opens with "The Hi-Jackers". Made in 1963, this entertaining crime story sees Anthony Booth in the lead role, playing long-distance lorry driver Terry McKinley, who picks up an hitch-hiker, Shirley (played by Jacqueline Ellis).
Further into his journey, McKinley is tricked into stopping to help a man in the road, and is promptly attacked and robbed of his lorry and it's contents by the hijack gang, (led by Derek Francis).
The fledgling romance between McKinley and the young woman is kept firmly on the back burner, as the couple then set about trying to track down the criminals. The supporting cast includes Patrick Cargill and Arthur English.

The next movie, "Smokescreen" is one of low-budget Butchers film studio's finest, with excellent characterisations as well as good performances.
In this 1964 production, Peter Vaughan plays the part of insurance assessor Mr Roper, who is dispatched to Brighton by his boss to investigate a suspicious insurance claim following a man's death, was it an accident, suicide, or murder? the quitely diligent Roper now sets about questioning those who knew the man.
There's a pleasing dash of humour provided by Roper's penny-pinching character, the reason for which is eventually revealed.
Solid support is provided by John Carson, Gerald Flood, Glyn Edwards, and Yvonne Romain as the dead man's wife, there's also a brief but enjoyable appearance from Deryck Guyler as a train station master.

"The Hi-Jackers" was made in 4:3 picture format, and runs for 66 minutes approx. "Smokescreen" is a 16:9 widescreen presentation, and runs for 71 minutes approx. Both movies have been digitally remastered, and offer excellent picture and sound quality. There are no extras or subtitles.
For Butchers films aficionados, these movies are essential viewing. For fans of vintage British B-movies of the 50's/60's, this double bill is well worth a look.
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Format: DVD
I first saw 'Smokescreen' as an ITV matinee on a Sunday in the 1980s. It was obviously low budget, but highly professional. Although a 'sixties film it is hardly swinging. Virtually entirely shot on location, it immerses you in the world of the 1960s, the cars, architecture, dress - it is almost Cinéma vérité in this respect. This is its subtle charm that outlives the experience of watching it.

Of course the plot is important and also the novelty of being arguably the only film to have starred Peter Vaughan. There are cameos by Deryck Guyler, Sam Kydd and an uncredited Damaris Hayman, who all deliver quality performances.

I scanned the schedules for years afterwards and managed to video it on my second attempt - it was always broadcast in the small hours. It has not been broadcast for about 10 years now.

I cannot speak for the other film on this DVD, except to say that in my opinion this double bill is not a waste of money and will entertain beyond the mere plot and characterisation. Smokescreen at least is a valuable time capsule of British film-making before the agonising decline from the late 1960s onwards.

This DVD is cheaper than a round of drinks and will deliver more value. If you love British film, add this to your collection.
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