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5.0 out of 5 stars Behold! McGuffins a plenty: Hitchcock - The British Years, 28 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Hitchcock - The British Years [DVD] (DVD)
This is a DVD box set of Hitchcock's earliest films. Indeed it bridges his first, 1925's The Pleasure Garden and his last Jamica Inn. And between these two films are some genuine delights, and a notable exception. There are spruced up versions of most of the films here, notably Hitchcock's calling card, The Lodger, which also has the archival version. Hitch's third film, The Lodger deals with Hitchockian themes, mainly, blondes, murder, and an innocent man on the run (see also Young & Innocent, The 39 Steps, etc). On first look, The Lodger still seemed a bit ropy, (especially compared to Eureka's Masters of Cinema version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis - a film of similar age with a bitingly clear transfer), but viewing it against the previous available copy there is a marked difference. Ivor Novello stars as a suspicious character who could be a Jack the Ripper-type killer, but being as Norvello was the biggest matinee idol of the day... Although this box set spans the whole of his British out put, there is one notable exception, and that is the film that cemented his reputation as a maker of thrillers, the seminal Blackmail. Downhill, the follow up to The Lodger also stars Ivor Novello.
Also included are, Sabotage, based on the Joseph Conrad novel, The Secret Agent, the film The Secret Agent based on a story by Somerset Maughan, The Man Who Knew Too Much featuring Peter Lorre in an early role (hot from starring in Fritz Lang's M), the classic, and template for a lot of following Hitchcock films, The 39 Steps [first of three versions and the best!] starring the great Robert Donat and the sexy Madeleine Carroll. The under appreciated, but a firm favourite of mine, Young and Innocent, with attractive leads and a great innocent-man-accused-of-murder chase story. One of Hitch's finest comedy-thrillers, The Lady Vanishes, about mysterious goings-on in Europe, a whistled code, the cricket loving pair Charters and Caldicott...and a vanishing lady!

The DVDs are presented two per jewell case, and all five cases are collected in a cardboard slipcase - a digipack would have been better, but at least they all share the same design and actually look like a proper box set and not just a collection of films bunged together. Extras include an introduction to every film, two Cinema programmes from the sixties [not full programmes but rough cuts - the second only has Hitch's responses, no questions!, a 25 minute docu on the making of his British films before going to Hollywood on the eve of war, a short but informative booklet written by Charles Barr, who also gives the to camera intros to the films, an Aquarius programme from the early seventies, made at the time Hitch was filming Frenzy, and picture galleries. All in all a worthy set from Network (shame about the missing Blackmail, though) of an important period not only in Hitchcock's career but in that of British Film.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Sep 2008 20:14:02 BDT
Wonder Woman says:
Dear Bored@Work: I agree with you about the missing Blackmail, a superb early Hitch film. However, what is offered here are great gems from the Master. For those just now exploring Hitch's work, including the British and American periods, this will help build a personal collection of his filmwork.
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