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Lifeboat [DVD] [1944]

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: William Bendix, Tallulah Bankhead, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Full Screen, Dolby, Digital Sound
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Mar. 2006
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E6UXI4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,800 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

World War Two drama from Alfred Hitchcock following the tensions that arise in a lifeboat filled with the survivors of a torpedoed passenger ship. Among those seeking refuge on the lifeboat are fashion journalist Connie Porthead (Tallulah Bankhead), tycoon Rittenhouse (Henry Hull), seaman Kovak (John Hodiak), injured stoker Gus (William Bendix), radio operator Stanley Garrett (Hume Cronyn) and a nurse, Alice (Mary Anderson). Their numbers are swelled further when a German, Willy (Walter Slezak), from the U-Boat responsible for the bombing is also taken on board. Slowly and subtly, the new arrival begins to influence the actions of his fellow passengers, manipulating each situation in order to manoeuvre the craft towards a rendezvous with his own people. Hitchcock was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the film, along with writer John Steinbeck.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I thought that I had seen most of Hitch's output, when Amazon directed me towards this neglected gem. I had never come across it, and drawn by the names 'Hitchcock' and 'Steinbeck' in a Masters of Cinema imprime, I figured what the hell and gave it the proverbial punt.
I am very glad that I did.
It's a wartime release, but like the excellent 'Life and Death of Colonel Blimp' (Powell and Pressburger), it does not fit the pattern of a standard flag waver. It would have been problematic at its release, not least in certain parts of America due to the sympathetic portrayal of the single black character in the boat. The characters are disparate and stereotypical, thrown together into the social melting pot of the boat by the 'master of suspense' himself (he still managed to make his customary appearance btw, although it is a little slimmed down even by his usual standards).
The performances are fine, helped by a spare Steinbeck style. Fans of Steinbeck will be rewarded in the way that the film deals with various themes that were of clear interest to the author elsewhere (small but dashed dreams, American treatment of the blacks pre-Civil Rights, etc.).
As noted by other reviewers, the film throws up some interesting moral questions, not least being what to do with a saved enemy sailor complicit in the sinking of your own boat, with its concommittent loss of life? The changing power dynamic in the lifeboat also makes for interesting viewing - you cannot help but wonder what you would have done in the same circumstances, which is a strength of the film.
I have now watched it a few times, and found it compelling each time, and repeat viewings are certainly rewarding.
The Blu-ray print is very good, with the audio as clean as you could expect.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Lifeboat by the master Alfred Hitchcock,

Which is probably one of Hitchcock's lesser known films, was made in 1944, and considering it's situated on a small boat throughout the 96 minutes of the Film quite a feat really keeping the viewers interested that long. A boat get's attacked by a German U-boat and lay shipwrecked, and they come across a German survivor and questions of morality come into play; should they feed him and treat him fairly as a POW or throw him off the boat? though good job it wasn't today he'd be beaten up mugged and thrown over.

The cast

Hume Cronyn as Stanley "Sparks" Garrett
Mary Anderson as Alice MacKenzie
Tallulah Bankhead as Constance "Connie" Porter
William Bendix as Gus Smith
Walter Slezak as Willi
John Hodiak as John Kovac
Henry Hull as Charles D. "Ritt" Rittenhouse
Heather Angel as Mrs. Higgins
Canada Lee as George "Joe" Spencer
William Yetter Jr. as German sailor
Hitchcock was even able to maintain his custom cameo this time appearing on a newspaper advert about weight loss, the film was generally well received but did come across some controversy showing the German as a likeable character which is true throughout the film, but Hitchcock does show that the German has something to hide and that he is not trust worthy but he does it subtly. And that works well. I mean come on if a German enemy soldier gets rescued by a bunch of Americans or English he's not exactly going to act all cliché villain. The film though is quite clichéd when it comes to the characters.
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Format: Blu-ray
A merchant ship is torpedoed and sunk by the Germans, leaving only a handful of survivors in the process. Finding a lifeboat to share, the survivors are thrown into conflict when one of the survivors turns out to be the captain of the U-boat that sunk their ship.

Lifeboat is a truly fine Alfred Hitchcock picture, it's a little undervalued, and most probably under seen due to not getting a worthy DVD transfer until the new millennium. Adapted from a John Steinbeck story, Lifeboat finds Hitchcock experimenting with a single set picture that is awash with propaganda and containing a cast that are across the bows, both endearing and totally interesting. Really tho, it's with the moral posers and quandary heart that Lifeboat becomes a great picture, different classes and oddly assorted persona's are forced to survive as one unit, but invariably a fly in the ointment could turn out to be a catalyst of sorts, not only for this group's possible survival, but in mental fortitude's and their respective capabilities under duress.

Very interesting film from the maestro director, with Tallulah Bankhead, Willian Bendix, John Hodiak and Walter Slezak turning in very enjoyable performances. Lifeboat is unusual in the sense of Hitchcock's other well known pictures, but it definitely finds him very much on form and very much laying down a marker for the genius that was to come. 9/10
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Format: DVD
The first image is that of a ship sinking beneath the waves. Then, the camera shows us the flotsam and jetsam of the aftermath of the sinking. Gradually, into view comes a lifeboat carrying a glamorous, well-dressed woman. One by one, more survivors pull themselves aboard, until we have a small band of disparate people, including a member of the crew of the ship which sunk the vessel.
This, one of Hitch's most unusual films, was filmed in a watertank on the backlot at Paramount studios. The lead was the glamorous actress Talulah Bankhead, better known for her stage-work, in her only film for Hitch. The point of the film is to show how a heterogeneous band of strangers meld together, making and breaking alliances as the need arises, and finding the inner resources that reside within us all. Gradually, Ms Bankhead's character loses all that makes her what she was, until she is faced with her true self, learning about others on the way.
Rumour has it that Ms Bankhead wore no underwear when climbing into the tank; when this was brought to Hitch's attention, he said that he wasn't sure whether this was a matter for wardrobe, make-up, or hairdressing. Also, during the making of the film, Hitch went on a diet and lost 100 lbs.; when the miracle product shows up in the film, he was inundated with requests for the product.
The film is excellent, and really different from the mainstream, and the presentation of this two-disc set is really excellent. It comes in a nice-looking and solid metal case, and includes a leaflet giving background to the film. The extras include an hour-long talk with Hitch, which includes some truly fascinating snippets: what a change from modern interview technique!
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