Alfred Hitchcock: The British Years

25/02/2008
  |  Buy to Own: 25/02/2008
  |  810 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC
Alfred Hitchcock: The British Years Film Poster

Synopsis

Box set containing ten of Hitchcock's most significant pre-war British films. In the silent film 'The Pleasure Garden' (1925), Patsy Brand (Virginia Valli) is a chorus girl at the Pleasure Garden music hall. She meets Jill Cheyne (Carmelita Geraghty) who is down on her luck and gets her a job as a dancer. Jill meets adventurer Hugh Fielding (John Stuart) and they get engaged, but when Hugh travels out of the country, she begins to play around. In 'The Lodger' (1926), Hitchcock's third feature, the foggy streets of London have fallen prey to the 'Avenger' - an unknown killer whose victims are all blonde women. When a handsome lodger (Ivor Novello) arrives at a local boarding house, his suspicious behaviour leads to him being accused of the crimes and hotly pursued by a lynch mob out for justice. But is he really guilty? 'Downhill' (1927) tells the story of Roddy (Novello), first son of the rich Berwick family, who is expelled from school when he takes the blame for his friend Tim's (Robin Irvine) theft. His family sends him away and all of his friends desert him. Roddy decides to go to Paris where he spends what little money he has and starts working as a dancer. He soon becames a victim of alcoholism. Roddy moves to England's colonies but some sailors send him back to his rich family hoping for a reward. 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1934) was the first of Hitchcock's classic British spy thrillers. While holidaying in the Swiss Alps with their daughter, Betty (Nova Pilbeam), English couple Bob (Leslie Banks) and Jill Lawrence (Edna Best) are befriended by Frenchman Louis Bernard (Pierre Fresnay). When he is shot by international spies, Louis warns Jill with his dying breath that his killers intend to assassinate a leading diplomat in Britain. However, before Jill and Bob can inform the police, Betty is kidnapped by the spies, who warn the couple that unless they maintain their silence they will never see their daughter again. Peter Lorre makes his English-speaking debut as the charming but psychotic kidnapper, Abbott. Hitchcock later made a big-budget, colour remake of the film with James Stewart and Doris Day. In 'The 39 Steps' (1935), the most celebrated of Hitchcock's British thrillers, adapted from John Buchan's novel, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) becomes the victim of mistaken identity when a female corpse is dumped in his flat by a spy ring. He tries to track down the true murderers whilst being pursued by the police, and hooks up with an unwilling accomplice (Madeleine Carroll). Their adventure eventually leads them to a music hall, where the secret of the 39 steps is revealed. 'Secret Agent' (1936) tells the story of British soldier and novelist Edgar Brodie (John Gielgud), who returns home during WWI to find that a government agency has faked a report of his death. They get him to change his name to Richard Ashenden and travel to Switzerland to track down and eliminate a German agent. In 'Sabotage' (1936) based on the Joseph Conrad novel, cinema manager Karl Verloc (Oscar Homolka), unbeknown to his wife Sylvia (Sylvia Sidney), is acting as a paid saboteur. After Karl's cutting off of London's electricity supply fails to create the havoc his employers hoped for, Karl is charged with delivering a bomb to Piccadilly Circus. The police, however, are already on his trail. When a young woman is found strangled on the seashore, in the comedy-thriller 'Young And Innocent' (1937), Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney) is quickly identified as the chief suspect in the case. The young man protests his innocence, but it seems that only Erica Burgoyne (Pilbeam), the eighteen-year-old daughter of the local police constable, is prepared to believe him. Together, the unlikely duo set out to find the real killer. In 'The Lady Vanishes' (1938), the elderly Miss Froy (May Whitty) goes missing on a train bound for England and her friend, Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood), sets out to find her. However, Iris's attempts are immediately frustrated by her fellow passengers, who question whether Miss Froy ever even existed. Only music scholar Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave) is prepared to believe Iris, and together they set about getting to the bottom of the mystery. In 'Jamaica Inn' (1939) - Hitchcock's last British film before leaving for Hollywood and a contract with David O. Selznick - young orphan Mary (Maureen O'Hara) arrives in 18th century Cornwall to live with her Uncle Joss (Banks), the landlord of Jamaica Inn. After finding work as a barmaid, Mary discovers that Joss commands a band of pirates who smuggle contraband from wrecked ships. Mary is further unnerved by the ever-present Justice of the Peace, Sir Humphrey Pengallan (Charles Laughton).