Nom de Review | 10/31/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The quality of the picture and sound in "British Cinema Classic B Film Collection, Vol. 1" is mediocre. The picture is generally blurry, the sound fuzzy. Most of the films carry the logo of a TV distributor. One of them, "The Siege of Sidney Street," was filmed in a widescreen process called Dyaliscope (2.35:1), but on this disc the picture is cropped to the old TV ratio (1.33:1). The right and left sides are cut off."
Worth getting if only for "Tread Softly Stranger" with Diana
Steven I. Ramm | Phila, PA USA | 02/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These obscure British films have never been on DVD in US before and - to my knowledge at least most were not on VHS. I chanced on to this one to see the 1958 film "Tread Softly Stranger" with Diana Dors - which received excellent reviews when released in the UK as a PAL DVD. I'm glad I spent the time on this film. Not only is Dors - a combo Jayne Mansfield (but with a slimmer figure) and Marilyn Monroe actress - both sexy and erotic, but the tale of a robbery gone wrong has some great twists and turns. The other films on this set aren't quite as good in my opinion.
The prints are not sharp but apparently the best that can be hoped for until someone takes the time - and money - to restore them. But at least they are out there for all the word to see. The other improvement that could be made with this set is a series of film notes about the actors, directors and the British film industry.
WELL WORTH THE MONEY!
R. Bromley | San Diego, CA USA | 02/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know why some people were complaining about the picture quality. I didn't find anything wrong with it. Really.... What can you expect from such old movies? I found each and every movie to be well worth the time spent viewing them. I would say, "This set is worth every penny". I hope someday there will be a Volume 2. If you like British movies this set is for you."
Four stars for The Girl in the News. The rest really are B m
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 11/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unless you're a glutton for B movies (and I usually am), the reason for buying this set is The Girl in the News. I have no idea why VCI would label this Carol Reed film a B movie. I can well understand why they don't fess up and let us know that the video quality of all the films in the set ranges from abysmal to just poor. VCI seems to have taken whatever old, tired VHS tapes they could find and slapped them onto the DVD format. However, the only real quality turkey in the lot is Tread Softly Stranger. The most amusing has Tod Slaughter camping it up as a chortling murderer in Crimes at the Dark House.
But The Girl in the News is an A effort. If it doesn't reach the classic status of the films Carol Reed directed in his great Forties and early Fifties years (Night Train to Munich, 1940; Odd Man Out, 1947; The Fallen Idol - Criterion Collection, 1948; The Third Man - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Edition), 1949; Outcast of the Islands, 1952), still it is a fine example of that satisfying genre, the well mannered British murder thriller peopled with attractive and accomplished actors, and with a clever script.
"Nurse required to attend invalid in quiet Surrey village; 22-26; hospital trained but experience in private nursing essential. Apply sending details and photograph to Mrs. Bentley, Camthorpe House, Camthorpe, Surrey." The advertisement might have added, "Also essential: Nurse must be thought guilty, even though she was acquitted at trial, of murdering a previous invalid in her care."
Anne Graham (Margaret Lockwood) had gone on trial for murdering the self-centered, sick woman she had been caring for. Sleeping pills were the means; a small legacy was the motive. Everyone assumed Anne had done it. A resourceful young barrister, Stephen Farringdon (Barry K. Barnes), was able to plant enough seeds of doubt in the jury's mind to get her off. Even he thinks she might have done it. She now finds she's unemployable. Who wants a suspected murderer for a nurse? Fortuitously, she receives in the mail a newspaper with an advertisement for a nurse. The location is in Surrey, some way from London. She applies, is interviewed, and is hired. She is to take care of a wealthy older man, Mr. Bentley, who is confined to a wheelchair. The man's attractive wife, Mrs. Bentley, is most solicitous. Tracy the butler (Emlyn Williams) watches it all. And then we realize that the butler had been present at Anne's trial.
As you might suppose, it's not long before Mr. Bentley has died from an overdose of sleeping pills. A codicil to his will gives a small legacy to Anne. And now the police are convinced Anne killed both of her patients. Fortunately, Stephen Farringdon has cast aside his original doubt. He finds himself falling in love with Anne, and he is shrewd enough to think this second murder is a clever plot to make Anne look guilty while the real killers, who now will be wealthy, move on.
There are no plot surprises. This is a "How's she going to get out of this" mystery. For the first 35 minutes, we have the set up. For the last 45 minutes, the extrication. Much depends on the appeal of Margaret Lockwood. In the Forties she became one of Britain's greatest stars. It was hard to beat her as a plucky, intelligent heroine or as a manipulating villain. Either way, she was an immensely likeable personality. Others in the cast speak to the great depth of acting Britain could put in its films when it chose to. Roger Livesey plays a detective, Farringdon's friend, and he brings a lot of charm to the film. He has that inimitable voice, husky, friendly, and a little skeptical. In small parts, often unbilled, are such fine actors as Roland Culver, Leo Genn, Mervyn Johns, Felix Aylmer and Basil Radford. Unfortunately, the movie suffers because neither the male lead nor the villain strikes many sparks. It's particularly unlikely that Tracy, small, smug and supercilious, would be any woman's hetero heartthrob. And Farringdon is one of those lean, polite, cultured types who seem to think a second glass of sherry might be too exciting for their girl friends. The movie would benefit, in my view, by having two strong, attractive actors dealing with Margaret Lockwood.
Carol Reed gives us a clever murder thriller with some nice touches, from a black kitten tugging at the hem of a night dress while a petulant, sick woman slowly creeps her way to the medicine chest, to a humorous bit of misdirection involving a detective and a crook. Reed and screenwriter Sidney Gilliat know how to create characters that have enough detail to be interesting. Gilliat, who with his partner, Frank Launder, either together or separately, either working as writer, director or producer, or in any combination, were responsible for some great Forties movies, too: Green for Danger - Criterion Collection, The Belles Of St. Trinian's, I See a Dark Stranger, The Rake's Progress, The Lady Vanishes - Criterion Collection, Night Train to Munich, among others.
The Girl in the News, as good as it is, is not worth by itself the price of this set. Better rent this disc (which comes with Tread Softly Stranger) before making up your mind."