The best of 1930's Hitchcock
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 08/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many box sets of early Hitchcock often include several of his pre-sound movies-- there are none here. For completists and silent-era fans that's something to consider. Nonetheless, this is one terrific package of early Alfred. The made-in-UK titles here include Hitch's (and England's) first sound feature ("Blackmail," which was also released in silent format**) and his final British-based production ("Jamaica Inn," Maureen O'Hara's screen debut). Hitchcock's scripts were often drawn from the greatest writers of his day-- some stories here are based on works by Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Daphne Du Maurier and Sean O'Casey.
Peter Lorre acted in a few of Hitchcock's movies. The two met in Germany, where the director spent his apprenticeship (he was fluent in German). Cyril Ritchard would go on to play an over-the-top Captain Hook in Mary Martin's musical version of PETER PAN. Barry Fitzgerald is best known for the cleric he portrayed in GOING MY WAY. Fitzgerald also appeared with that film's star, Bing Crosby, in DUFFY'S TAVERN, playing Crosby's father. Robert Young had already been in over 30 movies before Hitchcock directed him in 1935. Young eventually became a staple on American TV-- starring in the long-running FATHER KNOWS BEST and MARCUS WELBY M.D. Sirs Michael Redgrave and John Gielgud worked with Hitch decades before they were knighted. It seems that appearing in an Alfred Hitchcock movie advanced the careers of many fine actors, creatures that the director disdainfully said "should be treated like cattle."
** A final note about "Blackmail." The silent movie was reworked as a talkie, and both went into circulation. There are several sequences in the newer film that clearly came from the silent version-- these scenes are overrdubbed with music and extraneous voices and sound effects.
Video quality of this set is good, although film condition varies, and audio is handicapped by heavy filtering in spots.
Also available on DVD, from MCA/Universal is ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - Season One. This half-hour film noirish anthology ran for many years, and is still quite popular. The complete Seasons Two and Three are also out on DVD.
The parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 viewer poll ratings gathered by a film resource website.
(7.0) Blackmail (UK-1929) - Anny Ondra/Charles Paton/Cyril Ritchard
(6.2) Jamaica Inn (UK-1939) - Charles Laughton/Maureen O'Hara/Robert Newton
(4.7) Juno And The Paycock (UK-1930) - Barry Fitzgerald/Maire O'Neill/Edward Chapman
(8.1) The Lady Vanishes (UK-1938) - Margaret Lockwood/Michael Redgrave/Paul Lukas/Dame May Whitty
(6.9) The Man Who Knew Too Much (UK-1934) - Leslie Banks/Edna Best/Peter Lorre
(6.4) Murder! (UK-1930) - Herbert Marshall/Norah Baring/Edward Chapman
(5.9) Number Seventeen (UK-1932) - Leon M. Lion/Anne Grey/John Stuart
(6.1) Rich And Strange (UK-1931) - Henry Kendall/Joan Barry/Percy Marmot
(7.2) Sabotage (UK-1936) - Sylvia Sidney/Oskar Homolka/Desmond Tester
(6.7) Secret Agent (UK-1936) - John Gielgud/Peter Lorre/Madeleine Carroll/Robert Young/Lilli Palmer
(5.7) The Skin Game (UK-1931) - C.V. France/Helen Haye/Edmund Gwenn
(8.0) The 39 Steps (UK-1935) - Robert Donat/Madeleine Carroll/Peggy Ashcroft
(7.1) Young And Innocent (UK-1937) - Nova Pilbeam/Derrick De Marney/Percy Marmot
Facts & Trivia
Special Collector's Photo Gallery"
13 Early Steps
Tom Without Pity | A Major Midwestern Metropolis | 05/03/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review for Diamond Enertainment's "Alfred Hitchcock Collection,"
a box set of 13 public domain films made during the early portion of Hitchcock's
All of the movies in this set are talking pictures and the picture quality is
pretty fair with one exception, a very dark print of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
as well as a somewhat shorter than advertised print of SABOTAGE which is
missing a possible 5 minutes or so.
Here is a list of the thirteen films on the five discs:
1) THE LADY VANISHES (1938). A nice older woman disappears on a train causing consternation among her new acquaintences. One of Hitchcock's best English films. Margaret Lockwood ,Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty.
2) SABOTAGE (1936). A quiet movie theater operator may be the terrorist planting bombs around London, or so his wife suspects. A suspense classic. Sylvia Sydney, Oskar Homolka, John Loder.
1) BLACKMAIL (1929). Police detective attempts to keep his girlfriend from being involved in a murder investigation. Fine early talkie. Amy Omdra, John Longden, Sara Allgood.
2) JAMAICA INN (1938). Some major ship accidents may be more than just accidents, or so an orphan girl suspects. This film is a little slow and kind of disappointing. Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Leslie Banks, Robert Newton.
3) NUMBER 17 (1932). A gang of thieves hide their loot in Number 17. Apparently a Hitchcock experiment in sight as well asearly sound, this movie is a little disorienting at times.
Leon M. Lion, Anne Gray.
1) THE THIRTY NINE STEPS (1935) Wrongly accussed suspect leads the authorities on an extensive chase across the UK. Hitchcock's great theme, the wrong man, merges and emerges with a cross country chase in his English era classic . Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll.
2) THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934) Vacationing family becomes involved in a spy/assassination plot. Very exciting spy adventure, another Hitchcock hit. Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre.
1) THE SECRET AGENT (1936) A presumed dead British secret agent takes on the task of eliminating an enemy spy. Another top film from Hitchcock. Madeleine Carroll, Peter Lorre, Robert Young,
2) MURDER (1930). A young man tries to prove a young woman is innocent of her murder conviction.
What seems sort of run of the mill now was probably considered way above average in the early days of sound. Herbert Marshall, Nora Barring.
3) YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937). Police officer's daughter aids a suspected murderer in his escape and then tries to prove his innocence. Undervalued Hitchcock effort, but it is top notch all the way.
Robert Donat, Nova Pillbeam.
1) JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK (1930). Early talkie version of the famed Sean O'Casey stage play never really gets going despite the presence and wit of some of the famed Abbey Players. Sara Allgood, Edward Chapman, Barry Fitzgerald.
2) THE SKIN GAME (1931). John Galsworthy play about a modern industrialist family challenging a more traditional family for supremacy in their country estate dealings. Another filmed play but Hitchcock does his best to liven it up, not all together successfully. Edmund Gween, Jill Esmond.
3) RICH AND STRANGE (1931). Bored young couple recieve an inheritance allowing them to live the lives of carefree tourists, or so they hope. Unique blend of humor and reality combine for
an interesting but not entirely satisfying movie. Henry Kendall, Joan Barry.
This box set of thirteen Hitchcock British films was an impulse buy for me before I had a computer.
If I had known there was a comparable set with some of Hitchcock's silent films included,
I probably would've opted for that one instead.
Still, for a few dollars, Diamond Entertainment's edition of The Alfred Hitchcock Collection is quite a bargain and well worth the cost. I rate this box set Four Stars.