Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 02/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(Please note that the DVD edition I am reviewing is the Lasterlight release double feature of Alfred Hitchcock's SABOTAGE and THE LODGER. It's the one with that groovy introduction by the collarless cardigan-wearing Tony Curtis, who does not wear his strange, black leather gloves in this particular Laserlight introduction.)The viewing of this DVD was the first time that I had ever seen either Hitchcock's SABOTAGE or his silent feature, THE LODGER. Since this was an extremely inexpensive DVD purchase (as part of a three disc set), I assumed that there would be one fairly good film packaged with one forgettable dud. So, when I finished watching and enjoying SABOTAGE, I deduced that the second film on the disc would be the one that would be awful. Surprisingly, THE LODGER turned out to be almost as good as the first film. This is an excellent DVD to purchase if you are unfamiliar with either of these great movies. The picture and sound quality are not perfect, but for a budget release, they are quite acceptable.SABOTAGE is a masterful piece of work. It has a straightforward, yet engaging plot that will keep you spellbound the entire way through. There is some genuinely surprising material contained here, and if anyone tells you that a film from the 1930s can't shock anyone in the 21st Century, you merely have to show them this film to demonstrate how wrong they are. Although the film seems predictable at times, there are moments that will surprise even the most cynical of viewers.The action is fast and the tension is thick. The acting from the leads is quite excellent, with particular mention going to the main villain of the piece. Although the identity of the saboteur becomes obvious almost immediately, you'll be mesmerized watching the characters as they attempt to arrive at the same conclusion, and wondering if they can solve things before it's too late. Also of note are the family of foreign agents in the bird shop, and the wife who's torn between the truth and the man she married. This film is worth viewing even if just for the dangerously playful interaction between the main characters.The picture quality on this film is certainly watchable. There may be better prints out there on more expensive discs, and I wouldn't claim that it's a particularly crisp picture; if you are fussy about the quality of your DVD, then you might want to give this disc a miss. But for what you pay, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase. On the other hand, the sound quality isn't terribly good either. This is unfortunate, as there are a few lines that are spoken quietly enough to be lost. This wouldn't be a problem, if the Laserlight people had put English subtitles on the disc. It's strange that English is not included, as they do have subtitles, in Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. Of course, this problem only affects the first feature on this disc, since the second film is a silent movie.THE LODGER is also a class film, and makes a great addition to this disc. Given the age of the film, it's not surprising that the picture isn't in terribly great shape. It's in much worse shape than the first movie, though at no point is it completely unwatchable. Laserlight has released worse looking DVDs before (stand up, MR. ARKADIN) but this is definitely not one of their clearer products.While the image quality is relatively poor, the quality of the story itself shines through. It's a thrilling story that contains several more experimental sequences than I was expecting to see. The movie is slightly repetitive and at times it goes over the top, but this is merely to increase the tension. We know, more or less, what's going to happen (apart from the very silly conclusion), but our interest is piqued by how we get from step to step. It's a fascinating journey. It's just a pity that the ending to the film seems to come out of nowhere. Apparently, the studio management forced Hitchcock to end the film in the way it does which explains why it feels so out of place compared to the entire lead up. Despite the disappointment and let down of the ending, the beginning and middle sections are excellent and exciting, and they more than make up for relatively poor resolution.Considering the low price, this DVD is a great buy. These are two great movies that belong in everyone's collection. There are some problems with the picture and sound, but for the price you pay, you definitely get value for your dollar."
Masterpiece, but poor dvd
steven jacobs | Ghent, Belgium | 03/08/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The Lodger is the first 'real' Hitchcock and a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the quality of this copy is even worse than the vhs-copy I played hundred times. Wait for the release of the restored version!"
Incredible movie, incredible transfer!!
melvin | Central Il | 02/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In reviewing these classic British Hitchcock DVDs from Laserlite, I review the film transfer more than film itself......of Sabotage, I can say little more than what has already been said of the film. It's an excellent Hitchcock thriller about a young woman who suspects her husband may be a saboteur after a rash of London sabotages leave him missed at home. There's a wonderfully suspenseful and controversial segmant in which a young boy is riding in a bus with a bomb. One would be hard pressed to find anything that the Hotchcock could have done to improve upon this film. What really stuck with me after this viewing of the film, however, was how brilliant the transfer looks! Laserlite got the gray-tones and contrast level so well, the audio soundtrack so spotless, the cropping so perfect, that one would be tempted to think that Laserlite either copied this straight from the Criterion laserdisc then remastered it again, or that someone at Criterion lost their job, found an original 35mm negative and got hired by Delta, because this is one unbelievably pleasant viewing experience! I do not recall one scene in which I couldn't see what was happening because of bad contrast, I do not recall one moment of hissing on the soundtrack, I do not recall even one missing frame from the movie, no heads are cut off by bad cropping and whites are white, grays are gray, blacks are black and silver are even brilliantly silver. I think it is safe to conclude that, as of the writing of this review, there is not a better copy of Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage available on DVD. Even Criterion will be hard pressed to upstage this one (that is, if they ever get around to reissuing their Hitchcock laserdiscs on DVD.) It's too bad that not every Laserlite DVD can be this incredible, expecially films like Secret Agent, The Skin Game and Number 17 which are lesser knowns that Criterion will probably never get around to releasing (nor would they be expected to.)As for the added features, this DVD includes a very beat up copy of The Lodger, Hitchcock's first suspense film. I've only ever seen one other copy of The Lodger which was as bad or worse than this one. From what I understand, there is only one good 35 mm. copy of The Lodger available for a good transfer, but it's being held by a British museum and low budgest companies like Delta (Laserlite) do not have to budget to rent the film for a proper transfer to DVD and/or restoration of the film. So, these low budget home entertainment companies must use the same terrible 16mm print of the film. Conidering the circumstances and the fact that this is just an extra bonus, I won't be harsh on it, but it must be said that the Laserlite folks weren't as disriminating with the canned musical accompaniment as they should have been. Certain scenes which are suppossed to be tense and suspenseful have playful music playing behind it ruining the mood that I'm sure Hitchcock intended. Also included is a forgettable trailer to one of Hitchcock's later films and an intro and wrap-up to the film by Tony Curtis which, presumably, is intended to make you feel like you watching a classic move channel of some sort.Overall, I would have to say this is the best Laserlite DVD so far.5 Stars to Hitchcock for his wonderful films, 5 stars to Laserlite for an incredible entertainment package."
The Lodger is a great classic - DVD is a coaster though
P. I. Johnson | Cape Town, South Africa | 02/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1926, a new British director generated significant audience and critical interest in his film inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders a generation earlier and of some significant stylistic similarity to the Germanic style of filmmaking that was dominating horror cinema at the time (cf. Cabinet of Dr Caligari; Nosferatu; The Golem; The Student of Prague etc.) In Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger, Ivor Novello plays a new resident of a boarding house who comes under suspicion when a series of murders occur in the same area. The Lodger is sometimes injudiciously dismissed by horror fans, mainly because of Hitchcock's pioneering and (then) original central conceit (which I will not identify because it'll give too much away - but if you see it you'll know immediately what I'm referring to). Those who love The Lodger can however make a strong case for its lineage in the genre, starting with Fritz Lang's M (1931), through to Roman Polanski's The Tenant (1976). Interestingly, Polanski - another great genre director - inverts the premise fifty years later, telling the tale of an outsider (a Polish expatriate) who leases an apartment in France. In the case of The Tenant, it is the lodger who becomes increasingly suspicious of the other tenants, believing not only that they had diabolically conspired in the murder of the previous tenant - an alleged suicide - but were doing the same to him. The Lodger remains a timeless, well-told tale that provides a surprisingly resonant preview of the visual trickery that would eventually make Hitchcock the maestro of horror suspense auteurs. But wherever you stand on The Lodger, the 1926 arrival of Hitchcock as a creative force working on the fringe of the horror genre is in any case an important moment, given the revolutionary entries he would later contribute to the genre proper (most notably The Birds and Psycho). THIS DVD EDITION IS DEFINITELY NOT THE VERSION TO GET THOUGH. Even the VHS is better."