Kenneth T. Rivers | Beaumont, TX United States | 04/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Few of Alfred Hitchcock's countless fans are aware that he made two French films, both of which are on this video. Having reached the pinnacle of success with movies such as "Rebecca" and "Foreign Correspondent", Hitchcock was the first choice of the British Government and the French Underground to direct "Aventure malgache" (Madagascan Adventure) and "Bon Voyage" in 1944 to help inspire the French freedom fighters. Can propaganda make good entertainment? In the case of Hitchcock, it is better to ask if entertainment can make good propaganda. Hitch's taste for ironic twists and endless surprises made these two films almost useless to the propagandists, but the result certainly is fun to watch. "Aventure malgache" keeps us guessing as a French underground lawyer outwits the gestapo after some loose lips nearly sink the ships. In the superior "Bon Voyage," Hitchcock goes into high gear, showing us the thrilling escape of a British flyer from a POW camp, and his subsequent fall into a snare of Nazi treachery. Fans of the great TV series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" will especially like these two short French films, which directly led to the TV series format. Unavailable for some 50 years, these movies turn out to be worth the wait -- not necessarily Hitchcock at his very greatest, but definitely rare gems for the fans of the Master of Suspense."
Tryavna | North Carolina | 11/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's a shame so few movie buffs know about these shorts. They're low-budget affairs and can't compare technically to Hitch's features, but they offer unique rewards for fans of the Master. "Bon Voyage" is especially interesting, with several recognizable Hitchcock touches (like the climax, which anticipates a similar scene in Topaz). Sidenote: The reason that "Bon Voyage" is better than "Aventure Malgache" is probably because it was co-written by Angus MacPhail (of Ealing Studios), who would go on to work with Hitch on The Wrong Man.
The films were restored by the British Film Institute when they were rediscovered in the early 1990s, and the restoration is pretty good considering that they were made cheaply by the British Ministry of Information and shelved for 50 years. "Aventure Malgache" has fared a little better than "Bon Voyage," with less debris and speckling. But neither has any significant damage. In short, the restoration is fine, but it's not going to wow you like the BFI's recent restoration of Michael Powell's "Edge of the World."
The DVD was a very early (1998) release from Milestone/Image. As such, the transfer is OK, but would be better if done today. The image is a little soft and a little dark. Both films appear in the correct aspect ratio, though for some reason "Aventure Malgache" seems to be slightly cropped at the top of the frame. (It's only noticeable on group close-ups.) Considering the obscurity of these films, I doubt anyone will ever release them in better condition, and the flaws aren't significant enough to deter you from buying it. There are no extras whatever (unless you count the liner notes, which do a satisfactory job of contextualizing the films), and the menu is uninspired. But the chaptering is extremely generous.
All in all, this is an expensive disc for what's on offer, so I only recommend it to people who are already fans of Hitchcock. It would've been nice if Milestone had provided more content (this title just begs for a commentary track). But the folks at Milestone and, of course, the BFI are to be praised for getting these rarities into circulation."
Unknown Hitchcock Propaganda Films
Movie Mania | Southern Calfornia | 05/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Recently TCM had a Hitchcock festival and included these two shorts in their American debut.
They were made for the French audience and are in French. They were shot in England but used French exile actors.
The description given by Amazon is very accurate on the plot (they are only about 30 minutes long.)
Wneh viewing, you must remember that they were not made as entertainment but to promote the Allied war effort. Therefore, the story is to service this purpose.
This is a must own for any Hitchcock fans. Or those into war propaganda films. If you are looking for classic British Hitchcock, then look elsewhere."