View "Easy Virtue" as an artifact and "Blackmail" as genius
melvin | Central Il | 01/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Easy Virtue is one of Hitchcock's forgettable silent melodramas about a woman who wants to divorce her alchoholic husband and is scarred for life as a result.Blackmail, on the other hand, is a work of genius! It's Hitchcock's and England's very first talking film and viewing it, one would think Hitchcock had been working with sound on film for decades already. Hitchcock has always been ahead of his time and I can't think of a better example of this than Blackmail.Unfortunately, most transfers of this film to home entertainment media over the years have been less than tolerable at worst and just okay at best (the best being Criterion's Laserdisc transfer from several years back) This recent Laserlite release of the film is merely okay. It's not terrible and it's not terrific. It's hard to believe no one's done a full-out restoration on a picture of such importance. Kudos to Criterion for giving it the old college try on laserdisc, but like many of the other early Criterion Hitchcock laserdiscs (39 Steps, Lady Vanishes, Secret Agent) it still falls just barely short of the mark (which isn't to say they're bad transfers at all, mind you, they're just not as restored as they should be.) Kudos also go to Laserlite for trying and succeeding to give us a watchable home DVD copy of this classic. Thankfully, it's a reasonably good transfer that seems to have had more time taken with the transfer than Laserlite's terrible release of "Murder," Let's just hope Criterion soups it up for this one like they did for "The Lady Vanishes" and "The 39 Steps" and gives us the ultimate copy of this, one of my 10 favorite Hitchcock films. Until then, this is the best you're going to get on the DVD market, but ultimately, I recomend Criterion's "Blackmail" Laserdisc if you're still a dinosaur looking for the best copy available.5 Stars to Hitchcock for one of the best films in the history of cinema, 4 stars to Laserlite for doing the best they can with a small budget."
A Good Double Bill
E. Parsons | 06/27/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of Laserlight's best Hitchcock DVDs. 'Blackmail' is worth a look if only for the fact that it was Britain's first talkie. In fact some of the early scenes are still silent and you expect a title card to appear at any moment. Although 'Blackmail' never reaches the heights of 'The 39 Steps' or the 1934's 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', it is significantly better than most of Hitchcock's other films of the late twenties and early thirties. A few of the scenes are rather long and stagey but there are still some eyecatching moments and Anny Ondra is definitely an asset to the film despite her voice being dubbed by another actress. Picture quality is also very good. Unfortunately, with the notable exception of 'The Lodger', Hitchcock's silent work does not measure up to much. 'Easy Virtue' is probably one of his better efforts but I doubt you will be on the edge of your seat come the film's climax. The picture quality isn't too good either - only watchable - but I guess we shouldn't expect too much given the budget nature of the DVD. All in all, a decent double bill at a decent price. Well done Laserlight!"
View these films as historical artifacts...
Charles W. Adams | Adel, Iowa USA | 06/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I are avid Hitchcock fans and have begun a collection of his DVDs. Surprisingly, we both enjoy many of his early efforts. I'm a bit disturbed by reviewers who ridicule early Hitchcock films. They seem to expect films produced in the late 1920s to be comparable to those produced ten, twenty or thirty years later. That's just plain silly -- like comparing Lindbergh's plane with a B-17 or an F-14. As usual for Hitchcock, the women in both films steal the show. Blond and delicious. Hitchcock knew how to cast and photograph young ladies. It's great that these "early" Hitchcock "thrillers" are available to collectors."
The Master is speaking
R. Michel | France | 06/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of course, Easy virtue is quite a boring film. But Blackmail is a chef d'oeuvre. Many of the scenes are unforgetable. Watch this movie, and you not only can't forget it, but you'll be sure (if not yet) that Hitchcock was a Master. This movie was a silent one, but a few scenes were shot again to make the first english talking movie ever! In my mind, the best scene is when, after the murder, lady Ondra hear a neighbour speaking about knive... knive... KNIVE... You feel yourself as bas as the "poor" girl. If you like oldie but goldie, don't miss this DVD The images are fine and the sound is OK"