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The Skin Game [DVD]

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: C.V. France, Helen Haye, Jill Esmond, Edmund Gwenn, John Longden
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: John Maxwell
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Castilian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Orbit Media
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Mar. 2005
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007D5GE0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,051 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Social drama based on the play by John Galsworthy. When the wealthy Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn), claims a valuable forest property, the British countryside turns into an ideological battlefield. The property has been controlled for centuries by the 'landed gentry' and the local squire (C.V. France) and his wife (Helen Haye) refuse to acknowledge Hornblower's presence.

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Format: DVD
Quite simply, which version of "Skin Game" is this?
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Hitchcock's third "talkie", following Blackmail and Murder, was adapted from a John Galsworthy play, a morality tale of class, conscience and consequence.

The upper class Hillcrists (CV France and Helen Heye, amongst others) spar with the newly moneyed Hornblowers (including Edmund Gwenn), with the main crux of their arguement being that Mr Hornblower has gone back on his word not to evict the tenants of a house which stands on land sold to him by Mr & Mrs Hillcrest. If that doesn't sound a particularly thrilling premise for a film there's probably a good reason...it isn't.

The most exciting sequence in the film is a subsequent land auction, no really, where the Hillcrists and Hornblowers are pitted against each other, bidding to gain control of a vital piece of land. Again if a land auction doesn't sound as if it should be the most exciting part of a flim...well, you get the idea.

Most Hitchcock fans will feel that the film is too focused on dialogue and it displays little of the technical flair that most would associate with the director. It is true that he had little interest in the subject matter and as a result the film seems little more than it is; a play on film.

The acting is stilted in many parts, although Phyllis Konstam gives a delightfully over-the-top performance as Chloe Hornblower, who's secret blows the plot wide open when the Hilcrest's use it to blackmail the Hornblowers to retain ownership of the land that was sold at the auction.

In the final analysis its a decent film, and one that is completely at ease with the, then still new, processes of the "talking picture". What it most certainly isn't however, other than in name only, is an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The lack of interest he had in the project can't help but shine through. Still the fact that it's based on a solid Galsworthy play means that it's not a complete washout.
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By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 11 May 2006
Format: DVD
"The Skin Game" is a highlight of Hitchcock's early career despite it's washed out picture and poor sound quality. What it has to offer the viewer is great acting, strong characterisation ,a powerful storyline and a dramatic ending. "The Skin Game" (roughly meaning "playing dirty") is a tale of bitter, naked class warfare in an English village between the families of an obnoxious, bourgeois manufacturer and an arrogant aristocrat, over the future economic direction and values of the locale. The bourgois wants to be the undisputed "top dog" in the village ,symbolised by his desire to develop beautiful meadowland into an ugly,smoke-stack factory , while the Squire desperately wants to maintain his dwindling power and status within the community by any means necessary. "The Skin Game" portrays a vicious battle between the noblesse oblige of the landed gentry and the ruthless profiteering of the industrial bourgeoisie for the hearts and minds of the peasantry and working class, which raged for many decades in Britain. As the film progresses, the local squire and his family use increasingly low methods to gain the upper hand over their enemy ,that ironically ends up giving the bourgeois the moral high ground. "The Skin Game" is directed expertly by Hitchcock with the tense storyline building up steadily into an unexpected and poignant finale that is chastening for all concerned.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x89c12204) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89c050c0) out of 5 stars Hitch finds his "voice" 9 Feb. 2007
By Wayne Klein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
First the good news--we get a solid transfers of early Hitchcock with some minor and major classics early in his career. Studio Canal has done a nice job with these and while the transfers aren't scratch free, they look quite good given the age of the source material and quite a bit better than some of the earlier releases of public domain sources. This boxed set (once you open it) looks like an old bound copy of a script. The outside has a photo of Hitch (which reminds me of a deathmask)from the Universal archive.

The first two films in the set "The Ring" and "The Manxman" were made the year after the success of "The Lodger" (which would been shelved when studio executives thought it a disaster. Luckily, Michael Balcon stepped in a man who championed Hitch early in his career and the film was a wild success). "Murder!" is an early talkie (sadly the German version isn't included. It would have been nice to see for comparison sake as it was shot with a different cast on the same sets). In the early days of film alternate versions were shot for other markets where they might be popular usually with a different director. Hitch spoke German since he worked early on in that country shooting films and absorbing much of the early German expressionist styles that he would reference throughout his career)so directed it himself. "The Skin Game" and "Rich and Strange" (the latter an early Hitchcock classic) are also included. A pity that "Blackmail" (Hitch's first talkie that was also shot to be shown as a silent film) isn't included as well.

The bad news is that we don't get any feature length commentary tracks by Hitchcock historians and film scholars (which is just as well if these things bore you). We do, however, get a new 15 minute featurette focusing on Hitchcock's early life, his collaboration with his wife Alma (who is often overlooked--we must remember that it was team Hitchcock collaborating which consisted of Hitch, his wife Alma and whomever their current favorite writer was)and the development of his early style. It features interviews with USC Hitchcock Professor Drew Casper, director Peter Bogdanovich, Hitch's daughter and screenwriter/film historian Steve Haberman. We have a generous amount of clips from the set illustrating their points. I do wish that "The Lodger" had been included in this set but that's a pretty minor point (although honestly it does belong here as an example of his developing sense of style). Also missing is Hitch's "Number 17" which would have been a natural to include in this set even though the plot is a bit confusing, it's a fun ride.

This is an excellent collection of early minor classics as Hitch developed his film style. It's clear that he was influenced by seeing other directors such as Fritz Lang and FW Murnau but he had already begun to develop his own distinctive voice as a film director. This is a good set to get and is a pretty inexpense handsome package for fans.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89bfad44) out of 5 stars Missing scene from MURDER! 12 Aug. 2007
By Tony Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I purchased this set a few weeks ago but was only able to view it over the weekend. The restoration of THE MANXMAN, THE RING and, especially THE SKIN GAME superb. However, I was astonished to find that the penultimate scene of MURDER! was missing since it is essential to the entire construction. It looks like the restorers did not have access to a good copy since it went into black frames occasionally and did not parallel the quality of certain VHS copies I've seen.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b2c4054) out of 5 stars Early semi-classics RESTORED from 35mm. 8 Feb. 2007
By Paul J. Mular - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Throw out those Madacy & Laserlight DVD's! The U.K. Studio Canal 35mm Masters are here, professionally released with little artifacting by Lions Gate!

I would have given this DVD box set 5 stars except that 1) These are not Hitchcock classics, they are good examples of his early work but they are no Psycho, 2) While mastered from 35mm, they did not get the Criterion treatment of removing scratches & dirt specks. Still this is a great improvement over previous releases of these titles. I only wish "NUMBER 17" was in this set, that early classic deserves the Studio Canal treatment.

This set features a mix of silent films & early sound British films. There is also a nice 15 minute bonus on disc 3 that explains the difficulties of filming sound films in 1930 and how Hitchcock got around the problems.

Disc #1 : Two Silent Films

"THE RING" (1927) - Two boxers fall in love with a girl named Nellie. Very visual, early signs of Hitchcock's style.

"MANXMAN" (1929) - Hitchcock's last silent film! A Love story about two fishermen & a landlord's daughter.

Disc #2 : Two early sound films

"MURDER" (1930) - the 104 minute U.K. version, good suspence drama. A jurer re-thinks his verdict and investigates the crime himself.

"SKIN GAME" (1931) - Based on a John Galsworthy play, a little stagy. A traditional family battles a (then) modern family over land. Not as racey as the title would suggest.

Disc #3 : One more "talkie" and a bonus feature

"RICH AND STANGE" (1931) - Unexpected riches don't bring happiness for a married couple. A tale with a moral.

"THE HITCHCOCK WAY" (2007) - 15 minute documentary interviewing Alfred's daughter and surviving crew members as well as film historians. Of special interest is the explanation of how difficult it was to work in early sound films and how Hitchcock got around the problems in 1930.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89bf56d8) out of 5 stars BETTER TO INVEST IN THE UK RELEASE 30 May 2007
By Bartolomé Mesa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This surely is a great set, but you would be better off getting the UK release The Early Hitchcock Collection (available from Amazon.co.uk), with the same transfers and 4 more films missing here: Champagne (a very rare film in the canon), The Farmer's Wife, Blackmail and Number Seventeen. That set is an absolute must for anyone interested in the film career of Alfred Hitchcock, with some of his earlier British films (including 4 silent movies), lovingly restored and with some wonderful extras, most notably an hour long documentary on early Hitchcock. It's amazing how great these movies look on this new masters (infinitely better than all previous releases, that can now be easily dismissed). I just hope that Studio Canal and Optimun Classic get round to release soon the rest of the British films, particularly The Lodger, the first true Hitchcock work only available so far in unwatchable transfers. Some of these films may not be great works of art, up to the standard set by the master in his later opus, but in all of them can be found moments and ideas which speak loud of a real genius in working process. Don't miss it!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89bf5b10) out of 5 stars Early Hitchcock restored. 8 Feb. 2007
By Jerry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I'm very glad Canal has invested in restorations for these early Hitchcock films. There probably isn't much money in these restorations as the films have been in public domain for decades and can be found in every DVD bargain bin. They look very good for their age but I question some of the "foley" work added to the soundtracks. In the sound films, it is obvious that tinkling glass sound effects and other little audio nuances have been mixed in to the old mono track.

The films will be primarily of interest to an avid Hitchcock fan, with their subjective camera tricks and embellishments, early examples of the Hitchcock style. "Murder" yields some interesting moments, such as the melodramatic musical cue of "Tristan and Isolde", later used as a basis for Bernard Herrmann's "Vertigo" score.

Looking forward to a second volume from Canal.
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