The Rank Collection

18/07/2005
  |  Buy to Own: 18/07/2005
  |  885 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC

Synopsis

Box set containing eight classic movies. In 'The Red Shoes' (1948), ballet impressario Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook) hires up-and-coming ballerina Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) and talented young composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) to work with him on a new ballet, an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story 'The Red Shoes'. The show is a great success and Victoria and Julian fall in love; but Boris is jealous and makes moves to spoil their happiness. 'The 39 Steps' (1935) is Alfred Hitchcock's most celebrated British thriller, 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. In 'Brief Encounter' (1945), a respectable, happily-married doctor (Trevor Howard) comes to the aid of an equally upstanding housewife (Celia Johnson) when a passing train blows cinder into her eye. Thus begins a tentative romance, conducted in the tearooms and railway café of a small English town. David Lean's classic study of a peculiarly British affair, played with straight bat and stiff-upper lip, features Rachmaninov on the soundtrack, and garnered Oscar nominations for director, screenplay and Celia Johnson. 'Henry V' (1944) is Laurence Olivier's adaptation of Shakespeare's play. begins in a miniature Globe Theatre and slowly expands beyond the stage to become a film. The young king puts his rakish past behind him and rallies his men to invade France, winning against the enemy's superior numbers. The film was shot in Ireland to avoid the constant bombardment of the Blitz and Olivier was discharged from the Navy to make the film. 'A Matter of Life and Death' (1946) is a classic wartime propaganda movie, commissioned by the Ministry of Information, but turned into a fantastical allegory by the Archers, aka Powell and Pressburger. David Niven plays an RAF pilot who is ready to be picked up by the angels after bailing out of his plane. But an administrative error in Heaven leads to a temporary reprieve, during which he must prove his right to stay on Earth. A tribunal in heaven ensues to decide the case. In 'Genevieve' (1953), barrister Alan McKim (John Gregson) and wife Wendy (Dinah Sheridan) compete against Alan's friend (and Wendy's former beau), Ambrose Claverhouse (Kenneth More), in the London to Brighton vintage car race. This time round, however, Alan's 1904 roadster, 'Genevieve', breaks down on route. Angered by Ambrose's jokes at the expense of his beloved car, Alan bets his rival that he can beat him on the return journey to London - and the race is on. 'The Wicked Lady' (1945) is set during the reign of King Charles II. The aristocratic Lady Skelton (Margaret Lockwood) attempts to relieve the tedium of her day-to-day life by secretly acting as a highway robber. Lady Skelton finds herself caught up in a tangled web of romance, danger, and jealousy. Finally, in 'Hamlet' (1948), Laurence Olivier directs and stars in an adaptation of Shakespeare's famous tragedy. Hamlet (Olivier), Prince of Denmark, is still mourning over the death of his father and his mother Gertrude's (Eileen Herlie) subsequent remarriage to Hamlet's despised uncle, Claudius (Basil Sydney), who is now King. When his father's ghost appears to Hamlet and reveals that it was Claudius who murdered him, the young prince vows revenge. However, a fatal flaw in his character - hesitation - mars his efforts, resulting in murder, madness and treachery. The film won five Oscars, including Best Actor for Olivier (who was also nominated for Best Director) and Best Film.