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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Nelson Au, Jan 26, 2019.
Did you skip Young And Innocent and The Lady Vanishes?
Hi David. No, I didn’t skip those two titles. I’m trying to keep a two film buffer so that I can make a post a week of each film I watch. The buffer is in case something happens and I can’t see a film on schedule. So I’m actually about to watch Jamaica Inn. I’ll post my thoughts on Young and Innocent this weekend. Then The Lady Vanishes next week. I have a story about the effort it took to watch Young and Innocent. No, it wasn’t bad, it turned out well.
The US poster and title
Young and Innocent
83 minutes B&W
Nova Pilbeam: Erica Burgoyne
Derrick De Marney: Robert Tisdall
Percy Marmont: Colonel Burgoyne, Chief Constable
Edward Rigby: Old Will the China Mender
Mary Clare: Erica’s Aunt Margaret
John Longden: Detective Inspector Kent
George Curzon: Guy
Basil Radford: Erica’s Uncle Basil
Pamela Carme: Christine Clay
George Merritt: Detective Sergeant Miller
JH Roberts: Henry Briggs, Solicitor
Jerry Verno: Lorry driver
HF Maltby: Police Sergeant Ruddock
John Miller: Police Constable
Torin Thatcher: Nobby’s Lodging House proprietor
Based on the novel A Shilling for Candles by: Josephine Tay
Written by: Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood, Anthony Armstrong
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Production Studio: Gaumont- British International Picture Corporation
Viewing date: 4/20/19
MGM Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection 8 Master Works, 2008 DVD Box Set
This film begins as if we are jumping into the middle of a play with a couple we see arguing. The man claims his wife has been seeing younger men and the wife argues they are divorced. The woman is the famous actress Christine Clay and her husband is Guy. During the argument Guy’s eyes begin to twitch uncontrollably. At the end of the argument, Christine slaps Guy several times. After which, he leaves the house and into the stormy rain, looks back and we see his eyes twitching again!
The next morning we see what looks a like a woman swimming in the sea but is actually a dead woman who washes up on the beach. Robert Tisdall is walking along the seaside and looks down to see the woman on the beach and concerned that she is in trouble, runs down to the beach to find she is dead. So he runs off to get the police. Simultaneously, two woman out for sun bathing sees the body and finds she is dead as well. They look up and see Robert running away and assumes he’s the killer.
The police arrives and the two woman give their side of the story. While Robert is there to give his account of the incident, the police take him in based on the circumstantial evidence. The police seem to want to railroad Robert based on the evidence. He is assigned a barrister but his ability to defend Robert doesn’t look good as the barrister seems more on the police’s side. Plus his obvious incompetence doesn’t help. We are also introduced to Erica Burgoyne who’s the daughter of the Chief Constable. She becomes involved with Robert as Robert escapes from the police as he sets off to find the evidence that will clear his name.
This was a very fun movie and quite a contrast from the darkness of the previous film, Sabotage. It is a romantic comedy too as the two young leads become attracted to each other. Nova Pilbeam plays Erica who is 18 when this was filmed. She was in The Man Who Knew Too Much as the kidnapped daughter. Derrick De Marney plays Robert and they have good chemistry together on screen. Again, Hitchcock explores the wrong man accused theme. And the nice girl comes along who comes to believe his innocence and tries to help the poor guy to clear him.
There is a fun bit with the barrister’s eye glasses as he’s interviewing Robert that pays off later. The police are portrayed with much humor as stumbling and bumbling. At one point they are riding in a cart with pigs as they search for Robert.
There are three sequences that impressed me. First as the young couple are on the run, they come to a town and hide their car among the trains in the railway. There a sequence that uses miniatures to show this and the trains and surrounding streets and buildings are so well made and filmed, It would fool most people. The shot pans along with a train and then pans down to show the car hidden amongst the parked train cars, as the camera pushes in, you can see it’s a miniature of the car and two models of Robert and Erica in and beside the car. The second shot that surprised me was when Erica and Robert with Old Will drive into an old mine tunnel to hide out from the cops. As the car drives into the mine, the ground collapse under the car. Robert and Will manage to get out as the car sinks into the ground and they manage to pull Erica out of the car. That was really well done! The likely most famous shot though is a long crane shot into a large ballroom at a hotel during the penultimate sequence as the camera pans across the room and cross through people who are dancing, the camera passes to the musicians on the band stand. The end of the pan shot is a surprise. This is like the famous shot in Notorious when the camera is high up on the second floor of Sebastian’s house and pans down and right into Ingrid Bergman’s hands that are behind her back with the needed item.
This leads to a very satisfying climax that is also suspenseful as we don’t know if our heroes will be able to catch the real killer.
I had a problem with the DVD of this film. Since I bought the Premiere Collection Alfred Hitchcock Master Works set in 2008, I had not actually watched any of the films yet. So it was a very pleasant surprise to open the set and see how nicely it’s done as a book with pages for each film with descriptions and information about each film. And a page that holds the disc. While the Sabotage DVD was fine, the DVD for Young and Innocent had a play back issue right at the point that Robert and Erica find Will, the disc locks up. The disc won’t play past this point. I’m watching on an Oppo 205 which can play just about anything. So I tested the disc on an Xbox and it actually played though the troubled area. But I didn’t want to watch it on that system. So I used my copy from the Mill Creek set on the Oppo and finished the movie. It didn’t look as good but I could still enjoy the story. This was disappointing to find. I tried to clean the disc, but the disc was clean. I also tried the disc on an old HD-DVD player in another room and it played fine. My friend had a theory the disc was hanging up at the layer change. So after some searching, I found a copy of Young and Innocent as a single film release from this same MGM Premiere Collection. I bought it right away. I have a theory that perhaps others might have insight into. My theory is that each commercial DVD replication process has a specification for a tolerance level to which a disc is made. There would be a high end and low end of acceptable disc readability from the laser. The layer change on the disc might have been below that standard spec. I came to this theory when I bought a music CD that plays fine on my main system. But I tried it once on an older NAD CD player and it was unplayable, it kept skipping. I thought maybe the player was too old and maybe couldn’t handle the disc. But I wasn’t accepting that, so I bought another copy of that CD. And to my surprise, the disc played fine on that older NAD player. It might have been a little crazy to buy a second copy of this DVD, but it proved my theory again. Even though the Oppo is a brand new player, my older players could play the problem disc. So not exactly sure what the issue is, but it seems the disc is the variable.
I enjoyed this movie a lot and that was why I was willing to make an additional investment to buy another copy. I’ve also watched it a second time to listen to the audio commentary by film historians Stephen Rebello and Bill Krohn. I found it to be an informative commentary and quite listenable. I have not listened to the audio interviews with Peter Bogdanovich and François Tauffaut yet.
The Hitchcock cameo is early in the film where he’s seen outside the courthouse mugging and holding a small camera. It’s quite a long one too.
One last thing, the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection Master Works box set from 2008 is a really nice set. Though many of the titles have since been replaced by newer blu rays from Criterion and Kino Lorber. If you have a copy of the Master Works set, it’s a keeper for the titles not re-issued as blu rays.
This is a favorite of mine. I’ve always enjoyed it.
There is a very nice Zone B (locked) Blu-Ray available from the UK.
I have a DVD-R I burned from a TCM broadcast of the movie, but I've been tempted to get that Region B blu-ray for awhile and have just not gotten around to buying it. This is one of my favorites of the British thrillers.
Occam's razor. The problem is the eight-DVD book packaging warping the discs; all the individual releases play fine. Amazon is awash with reviews testifying to this.
Hi Brent, thanks for the reply and this information about the Master Works 8 disc set! I didn’t know this. I bought the set back in the day, I didn’t seek out any reviews at the time other then the posts here on the HTF.
I just looked at the discs in the set and they look OK. Nice and flat. With the exception of Sabotage and Young and Innocent, all the titles in that set are superseded now with better releases. So I’m glad the above two titles are Ok. I put Sabotage in a separate case for now just in case.
This is a shame, the set is a very nice package.
The Lady Vanishes
86 minutes B&W
Margaret Lockwood: Iris Matilda Henderson
Michael Redgrave: Gilbert Redman
Paul Lukas: Doctor Hartz of Prague
Dame May Whitty: Miss Froy, Governess
Cecil Parker: Eric Todhunter
Linden Travers: “Mrs. Margaret Todhunter”
Naunton Wayne: Caldicott
Basil Radford: Charters
Mary Clare: Baroness Isabel Nisatona
Emile Boreo : Boris, the Hotel Manager
Googie Withers: Blanche
Sally Stewart: Julie
Philip Leaver: Signor Doppo
Zelma Vas Dias: Signora Doppo
Catherine Lacey: The Nun
Loosely based on the novel The Wheel Spins by: Ethel Lina White
Written by: Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Production Studio: Gainsborough Pictures
Viewing date: 4/27/19
The Criterion Collection No. 3 blu ray. 2011
I’ve heard about The Lady Vanishes, of course I bought the Criterion disc several years ago. I have not read any details about the plot or seen it before until viewing it for this project. All I knew was it is set on a train and a woman tries to find her traveling companion who disappears. It also wasn’t what I expected.
It starts off with a group of people stranded for the night in a hotel waiting for the train that’s buried under snow from an avalanche. It’s being dug out. This hotel is located in the fictional Earopena country of Bandrika, “one of Europe’s undiscovered corners”. So we get to meet this group, which includes Charters and Caldicott; a pair of traveling bachelors who seem to be more concerned about getting home for the cricket matches. Miss Froy is a former governess and musicologist on her way back to England after spending some time in Bandrika. There is also Mr. Eric Todhunter a lawyer and his “wife” Mrs. Margaret Todhunter. Mr. Toddhunter is more concerned about keeping a low profile and avoiding scandal while traveling with his mistress. Gilbert Redman is a musicologist whose writing a book about folk music and makes a racket during the night in his room above our main character, Iris Henderson whose traveling across Europe before returning home to marry her fiancée. During the night, Gilbert is making a racket with some folk musicians in his room and it keeps Miss. Froy and Iris from getting any sleep. Iris has a confrontation with Gilbert which ends with Iris giving in. This sets up Iris and Gilbert as characters in conflict, but it is Iris who does’t like Gilbert.
The next morning this group boards the train heading back to England. Along the way from the hotel to the train, a planted pot falls and hits Iris on the head. Miss Froy quickly helps Iris onto the train. Iris seems ok and as the train heads out, Miss Froy and Iris become traveling companions after she looks after Iris who passes out after the head injury. After Iris wakes up, they have some tea in the dining car. We meet some other people on the train who will figure in the story as it unfolds. Miss Froy and Iris head back to their compartment where Iris falls asleep. Some time later she wakes up to find Miss Froy missing. The others in the compartment say they don’t know of Miss Froy, so puzzled, she leaves her compartment to find her. But she is finding that everyone on the train denies ever seeing her. Iris searches the train and finds Mr. Gilbert Redman in another car whom she’d rather not speak to after what happened the night before. But he listens to her story and eventually agrees to help her after seeing something that corroborates her story. This is where the fun begins as they begin to uncover a conspiracy.
It was interesting that so much time was spent at the hotel to introduce all the main characters prior to the train section of the film. It gave us the chance to get to know who these people are and what makes them tick. It also reminded me of the disaster movie, where we meet a group of characters who all have a part to play in the plot.
There is an almost understated ramp up of tension was my first impression as Iris is trying to figure out what happened to Mrs. Froy. It wasn’t until Gilbert gets involved that I started to feel the sense of danger they were getting themselves into. Then as they dig deeper and get more resistance from some of the passengers, the plot is revealed. Again, I’m trying to not spoil the story, but as the plot develops more, I was surprised by the big reveals. There’s a fight and some gun play that occurs later with a very satisfying ending. Iris at the end is changed by the experience and decides to take a different path.
To be honest, while the spills and chills are really good, I wasn’t feeling like this was so good. Maybe I was tied, maybe still feeling the highs from The 39 Steps and Young and Innocent. Maybe I’m watching these films too close to each other. Maybe what Josh wrote that he wishes he could see this film for the first time again made me feel this was going to be something really special. But as the last third of the film starts, it gets better.
I’ve been thinking about the film during the weeks since I’ve seen it, I do feel it’s a really good film. There’s a lot of fun stuff going on from how the two leads become attracted to each other. How the villains are revealed and how the good guys are able to prevail. I think I need to watch it again. For me, I feel it needs another viewing. Now that I know what happens, I can enjoy the journey more.
I did enjoy the film a lot, don’t misunderstand. I learned that the two characters, Charters and Caldicott were so popular, they were brought back to appear in two other films as the same characters. I plan to watch the film Crook’s Tour from 1941 in which they appear and is included as a bonus on The Lady Vanishes Criterion Blu Ray disc. And on the second disc of the Criterion DVD edition. The pair also appear as the same characters in a 1940 film called Night Train To Munich. I picked up the Criterion disc of this film after learning about it after watching The Lady Vanishes. The film also stars Margaret Lockwood, but not as Iris, but another character. The synopsis says it is a romance and comedy and cloak and dagger film. They say its Hitchcockian so I’m curious to see it now.
As I said earlier, The Lady Vanishes demands several viewings. It is a kind of romp, there are spills and chills and it’s a slow boil. And it goes where I didn’t expect. But I also should have known it was going there!
Night Train To Munich is pretty fun in its own right. I don’t know if I’d call it Hitchcockian, exactly, but I enjoy it.
Once again, I was very privileged to get to review the Criterion Blu-ray of The Lady Vanishes. It is by far my favorite of Hitchcock's British output, and I never tire of revisiting it.
Hey Josh, thanks for the input on Night Train to Munich. It read like it was going to be a fun movie!
Matt, thanks for the link to your review, I’ll have a look at it right now!
Matt, I read your review. I think what I probably miss in the British films is what you cited as the droll humor. So I sometimes miss the jokes. I’m going to have another look at this film.
You mentioned the miniature work too. I really liked that aspect of the opening titles. I thought the model work was really good. Sure, it’s obviously a model.
Just got an email this morning from Taschen books about a new Hitchcock book:
108 minutes B&W
Charles Laughton: Sir Humphrey Pengallan
Leslie Banks: Joss Merlyn
Maureen O’Hara: Mary Yellen
Robert Newton: James Jem Trehearne
Marie Ney: Patience Merlyn
Horace Hodges: Butler
Hay Petrie: Groom (Sam)
Frederick Piper: Agent Davis
Herbert Lomas: Tenant (Dowland)
Clare Greet: Tenant ( Granny Tremarney)
William Devlin: Tenant ( Burdkin)
Emlyn Williams: Harry the Pedlar
Jeanne de Casalis: Sir Humphrey’s friend
Mabel Terry-Lewis: Lady Beston
Bromley Davenport: Ringwood
George Curzon: Captain Murray
Basil Redford: Lord George
Wylie Watson: salvation Watkins
Moreland Graham: Sea Lawyer Sydney
Edwin Greenwood: Dandy
Mervyn Johns: Thomas
Stephen Haggard: Willie Penhale
John Longden: Captain Johnson
Aubrey Mather: Coachman
Adaptation of the novel Jamaica Inn by: Daphne du Maurier
Written by: Sidney Gilliat, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville, J.B. Priestley
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Production Studio: Mayflower Pictures
Viewing date: 5/4/19
iTunes HD download of the 2013 Cohen Media Group restoration. Also Kino 1999 DVD Number 105.
This is another milestone, I’ve reached the end of the British period as this is the last film Hitchcock made in England prior to going to Hollywood.
The film takes place in 1820 and is a period piece. The story concerns Mary Yellen who after the death of her mother, she travels to the Jamaica Inn where her aunt, Patience lives. Whilst traveling by a horse driven carriage, the driver wouldn’t stop to let her out for fear of the Jamaica Inn. Eventually the carriage stops and the driver throws her things out and she is forced to walk back, where she discovers the mansion of Humphrey Pengallan who is the local high official. He is taken by her beauty and provides a horse and escorts her to Jamaica Inn.
Patience lives with her husband, Merlyn Joss. She quickly learns that Joss is a bully and that there are some strange goings on at the Inn. In fact, Joss is a leader of a gang of pirates who wreck ships and steal their cargo. The Jamaica Inn is located along the rocky Cornish coast of England, so this makes for easy ship wrecking. Shortly after settling at the inn, Mary befriends one of the gang, Jem Trehearne. This is the start of trouble and the story quickly evolves into another unexpected twist.
I had made the effort to chase down the Kino DVD of this film. It’s a title I had never heard of or knew the plot. After discussing it here with the other Hitchcock experts, I decided it was the better choice to chase down a HD copy as the consensus is that the Kino DVD is subpar. The Cohen Media Group had produced an HD remastered from the restored film elements and released a Blu Ray. It’s out of print and very expensive. So I decided since iTunes has this HD copy available, I went where I said was an option, download. I bought the iTunes HD version and downloaded the file to my Mac. It was then streamed to the Apple TV connected to my plasma. What is cool, as you guys know, is there is a cloud version of the films you buy from iTunes so I could stream it on any device. This makes for quick and easy access if I want to rewatch a scene on my iPad Pro.
About the film, it was interesting to see it, the HD version definitely made it a much more enjoyable experience and well worth the investment. Though I don’t think it will be an often viewed film. I did compare the quality to the DVD and it was no question, the DVD wasn’t going to be fun to watch. Mary is played by Maureen O’Hara in her first film role. She has an impressive debut playing a tough and strong young woman. I’ve not knowingly seen her later films, and I know she is known for playing that type of character. Charles Laughton plays Sir Humphrey Pengallan in a wildly over the top performance. This is the second or third Laughton film I’ve seen him in, the first was a Cary Grant title. I’ll probably next purchase the Hunchback of Notre Dame as I’ve never seen that. Though I know about it and probably seen portions on TV as a kid. Laughton and O’Hara star as most know. Joss is played by Leslie Banks and I didn’t recognize him! His make up was so good and I remembered him as the father in The Man Who Knew Too Much. So it was such a different character, it was hard to believe it was the same actor. The other main cast member is Robert Newton as Jem Trehearne.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this film. Was it going to just be about the pirates and the goings on at the Inn? No, I should have guessed as by now, I’m learning more about what goes into a Hitchcock film. I didn’t expect the turn of the events and it made the film much more interesting. The element that seems to be repeating is characters who turn out to not be what you expect. The repeating theme of characters whose motivations are not what you are initially made to think. So there were a few surprises and unexpected things that kept my interest.
I believe Laughton, from what I read, was a source of difficulty for Hitchcock and so his character was changed over what was intended.
By the way, I had another viewing of The Lady Vanishes. Probably 2 1/2 times total as I was listening to some of the commentary, I enjoyed it more on successive viewings as I know more about the characters and I can pick up some of the dialogue I missed earlier.
Nelson, I'm happy about The Lady Vanishes and even more delighted that you find things of merit in Jamaica Inn, a movie that is often just dismissed outright before folks move on to Hitchcock's American period.
130 minutes B&W
Lawrence Olivier: Maximillian “Maxim” de Winter
Joan Fontaine: The Second Mrs. de Winter
George Sanders: Jack Favell
Judith Anderson: Mrs. Danvers
Gladys Cooper: Beatrice Lacy
Nigel Bruce: Major Giles Lacy
Reginald Denny: Frank Crawley
C. Aubrey Smith: Colonel Julyan
Melville Cooper: Coroner
Florence Bates: Mrs. Edythe van Hopper
Leonard Carey: Ben
Leo G. Carroll: Dr. Baker
Edward Fielding: Frith
Lumsden Hare: Tabbs
Forrester Harvey: Chalcroft
Philip Winter: Robert
Adaptation of the novel Rebecca by: Daphne du Maurier
Written by: Robert E. Sherwood, Joan Harrison; adapted by: Philip MacDonald, Michael Hogan
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Production Studio: Selznick International Pictures
Produced by: David O Selznick
Viewing date: 5/11/19
The Criterion Collection Blu Ray 135, 2017
A shy woman is in Monte Carlo under the employ of Mrs van Hopper as her personal assistant, a domineering woman on vacation whose goal seems to meet and be with the aristocrats. The young woman meets Maxim de Winter whose a widower of the past year, his former wife being the title character Rebecca. Maxim and the young woman begin a whirlwind romance that lead to marriage. After the honeymoon, the couple return to Maxim’s large country home, Manderley in Cornwall. There the new Mrs de Winter meets Mrs Danvers, the house keeper. Mrs. de Winter soon discovers the ghost of Rebecca has a powerful hold on everyone at Manderley. This hold is one that test Mrs. de Winter’s own sanity.
Rebecca has been a film that’s intimidated me, so I had never seen it until last year when I finally watched the Criterion Blu-ray. This is probably crazy as I own the earlier Criterion DVD and MGM Blu Ray, which remain still sealed. Not sure why I was so intimidated, perhaps the cast, perhaps the plot. Admittedly I really didn’t know what the plot exactly was. I think I had a slight clue it was a psychological drama.
That being said, I didn’t expect the way the film would start off as a romance film that quickly turns into phsychological drama and then a mystery. The mystery is one the new Mrs. de Winter transforms from a naive and shy woman under the employ of Mrs. Van Hopper to the second Mrs. de Winter who is finding herself while adjusting to her new husband, and dominance of Mrs. Danvers and the ghost of Rebecca.
This is the second time I viewed the film and it was a much richer viewing experience as I already knew the story, but had forgotten one of the plot developments that occurs late in the film. It was interesting to watch Joan Fontaine go from a quiet shy woman to a young bride as Maxim sweeps her off her feet and just takes her away from van Hopper’s employ and becomes the new Mrs. de Winter. I really could study more her journey into the world of Rebecca. Mrs Danvers is quite a character. She was totally devoted to Rebecca and it wasn’t clear if it was loyalty or something more. I could really see the way she was working on the new Mrs. de Winter in an attempt to drive her away or to madness.
The reveal between Maxim and Mrs. de Winter in the boat house and police inquiry late in the film was a surprise twist and explained a great many things. I’m not sure if the reveal was changed from the book, but I liked how it provided a happier ending. It also showed that Rebecca wasn’t this perfect character herself and engaged in a psychological game against Maxim.
It was interesting to read that Nova Pilbeam was the choice for Mrs. de Winter by David O Selznick but Hitchcock’s view of the film was at odds with Selznick. I thought Fontaine was a great choice. We’ll never know if Pilbeam could have pulled off the role. Lawrence Olivier was terrific as the moody Maxim with his secret. And Dame Judith Anderson is Mrs. Danvers. She was very creepy and quite insane by the end.
Production design was pretty amazing for the country house Manderley interiors. The miniature work for the house was also very cool. I liked the way the film starts with the camera moving into the miniature.
I was also wondering, given this is Hitchcock’s first film in America and Hollywood, what he was thinking given Selznick being such a powerful producer. Selznick wanted to make a very faithful adaptation and Hitchcock wanted to adapt the story and only use what he felt was needed to tell the story. So he wasn’t entirely free to make the film he had in mind. He might have wondered why he put himself in this position. Hitchcock and Selznick both did very well with this film.
Overall. I had no reason to be intimidated by this film, though I think I was probably in a better place to view it now then at a younger time in my film viewing experiences. I was more able to focus on the character study.
PS- Matt, I assume you reviewed this Criterion blu ray, so I'll look for it.
I need to pick up a copy of Jamaica Inn at some point, I don’t have it at all.
I first discovered Rebecca when the VHS for it was released at a discount price about 1986. I'd watched a few Hitchcock films on TV before, but Rebecca quickly became a favorite, and all these years later it still is. Anyway, thanks very much for your detailed and perceptive review. As you say, the new blu-ray from Criterion is really good. The Mrs. Danvers character by Judith Anderson is rather over-the-top but really quite interesting. It's amazing how in a couple of scenes Hitchcock somehow glides past the Breen office in a rather daring way. The romance, suspense, and mystery of this movie still holds me after seeing it more than 20 times over 30+ years.