A high point of Hitchcock's pre-Hollywood career, 1935's The Thirty-Nine Steps is the first and best of three film versions of John Buchan's rather stiff novel. Robert Donat plays Richard Hannay, who becomes embroiled in a plot to steal military secrets. He finds himself on the run; falsely accused of murder, while also pursuing the dastardly web of spies alluded to in the title. With a plot whose twists and turns match the hilly Scottish terrain in which much of the film is set, The Thirty-Nine Steps combines a breezy suavity with a palpable psychological tension. Hitchcock was already a master at conveying such tension through his cinematic methods, rather than relying just on situation or dialogue. Sometimes his ways of bringing the best out of his actors brought the worst out in himself. If the scene in which Donat is handcuffed to co-star Madeline Carroll has a certain edge, for instance, that's perhaps because the director mischievously cuffed them together in a rehearsal, then left them attached for a whole afternoon, pretending to have lost the key. The movie also introduces Hitchcock's favoured plot device, the "McGuffin" (here, the military secret), the unexplained device or "non-point" on which the movie turns. --David Stubbs
One of Alfred Hitchcock's finest pre-Hollywood films, the 1936 Secret Agent stars a young John Gielgud as a British spy whose death is faked by his intelligence superiors. Reinvented with a new identity and outfitted with a wife (Madeleine Carroll), Gielgud's character is sent on assignment with a cold-blooded accomplice (Peter Lorre) to assassinate a German agent. En route, the counterfeit couple keeps company with an affable American (Robert Young), who turns out to be more than he seems after the wrong man is murdered by Gielgud and Lorre. Dense with interwoven ideas about false names and real identities, about appearances as lies and the brutality of the hidden, and about the complicity of those who watch the anarchy that others do, Secret Agent declared that Alfred Hitchcock was well along the road to mastery as a filmmaker and, more importantly, knew what it was he wanted to say for the rest of his career. --Tom Keogh
A global byword for cinematic quality of a quintessentially British nature Ealing Studios made more than 150 films over a three decade period. A cherished and significant part of British film history only selected films from both the Ealing and Associated Talking Pictures strands have previously been made available on home video format - with some remaining unseen since their original theatrical release. The Ealing Rarities Collection redresses this imbalance - featuring new transfers from the best available elements in their correct aspect ratio this multi-volume collection showcases a range of scarce films from both Basil Dean's and Michael Balcon's tenure as studio head making them available once more to the general public. IT HAPPENED IN PARIS (1935) Whilst looking for artistic inspiration in Paris a millionaire's son falls for a beautiful girl. Romantic complications arise when he feigns poverty in order to win her love. Black and White / 66 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English AUTUMN CROCUS (1934) In his final film role Ivor Novello plays the married owner of a Tyrolean inn; Fay Compton is the holidaying schoolteacher who falls hopelessly in love with him. Black and White / 80 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English THE DICTATOR (1935) A drama depicting the stormy marriage of King Christian VII and his English consort Caroline Matilda and the Queen's tragic affair with the royal physician Struensee. Black and White / 82 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English SECRET LIVES (1937) A powerful World War I drama tracing the life of a German-born woman who is trained by the French as a spy but pays a heavy price for her apparent freedom. Black and White / 78 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English
Alfred Hitchcock considered The 39 Steps to be one of his favourite films partly because it launched his classic theme of the innocent man on the run from villains and lawmen. Robert Donat stars as Richard Hannay in this freely adapted version of John Buchan's story. Despite repeated remakes Hitchcock's riveting original remains unequalled.
An unmissable compendium of 8 classic musicals in one bumper DVD box set! Includes: 1. On The Avenue (Dir. Roy Del Ruth 1937) 2. Sun Valley Serenade (Dir. H. Bruce Humberstone 1941) 3. Daddy Long Legs (Dir. Jean Negulesco 1955) 4. The Gang's All Here (Dir. Busby Berkeley 1943) 5. Second Fiddle (Dir. Sidney Lanfield 1939) 6. Orchestra Wives (Dir. Archie Mayo 1952) 7. Dolly Sisters (Dir. Irvin Cummings 1945) 8. Pin Up Girl (Dir. H. Bruce Humberstone 1944)
An epic Oscar winning film shot in glorious Technicolor by Cecil B. DeMille in which Louis Riel (Francis J. McDonald) tries to organize Indians and French settlers into a fighting force that will battle against the ruling British and the North West Mounted Police. One of Riel's associates Jacques Corbeau (George Bancroft) is wanted for murder and is being pursued into Canada by Texas Ranger Dusty Rivers (Gary Cooper). Rivers joins up with the Mounties to pursue his outlaw but then falls for nurse April Logan (Madeleine Carroll) the beau of a stiff upper-lipped Mountie sergeant Jim Brett (Preston S. Foster). But events overtake their rivalry when the rebels obtain a Gatling gun and April's brother Ronnie Logan (Robert Preston) also a member of the North West Mounted Police falls in love with Louvette (Paulette Goddard) a fiery vixen and 'half-breed' who is Corbeau's sister.
Martha and Stephan are two Belgians working in a German hospital during the First World War. This is their cover: they are in fact spies for the Allies. After blowing up an ammunition dump Martha puts herself in more danger by accompanying the German Commandant to Brussels where she hopes to gather vital information about the Kaiser. Her mission becomes fraught with danger and it gets harder and harder for her to hide her true identity. Knowing this Stephan sets off to help her but will he be too late? Starring Madeleine Carroll Herbert Marcshall and Conrad Veidt.
Otto Preminger directed 1949 adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde 4 act comedy 'Lady Windermere's Fan' starring Jeanne Craine Madeleine Carroll and George Sanders. The witty dialogue flows as misunderstanding follows misunderstanding in the tangled lives of an aristocratic couple leading finally to a selfless and unexpected act of self-sacrifice.
"Swing Vote" follows the story of Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner), beer-swigging, lovable loser, who is coasting through his life.
A new Broadway show starring Gary Blake shamelessly lampoons the rich Carraway family. To get her own back daughter Mimi sets out to ensnare Blake but the courtship is soon for real to the annoyance of his co-star hoofing chanteuese Mona Merrick.
England mourns the loss of war hero and famed novelist Edgar Brodie as this tangled spy mystery begins. The only problem is that Brodie (John Gielgud) is among the last to know. Returning from the war he discovers that he has been declared dead singled out for a new identity and given a special assignment that will include his new wife Elsa (Madeleine Carrol). They are joined by the cool and deadly hit man the General (Peter Lorre) and also pick up the talkative gadfly American Robert Marvin (Robert Young). From the start the mission goes awry as the trio of British agents discover their local informant dead with a button clenched in his hand the only clue to who killed him. As they struggle to complete their mission a complex love tangle develops with Robert and the General competing for Elsa's affections as she gauges Brodie's indifference. Each follows his or her best instincts setting up the dramatic climax.
The closest British film ever got to having its own Garbo, Madeleine Carroll continues to fascinate viewers nearly ninety years after her cinematic debut. Lazy journalism has reinforced and perpetuated the cinematic myth that she was purely a Hitchcock creation (springing fully formed into the limelight courtesy of smash-hit drama The 39 Steps), but nothing is further from the truth. By the time she worked with Hitchcock, Carroll had been successfully acting in films for seven years, her early body of work coinciding with an incredibly exciting period in film history the transition from silent film to sound. Though she had notable successes both in Britain (Atlantic, The Dictator) and Hollywood (The General Died at Dawn, The Prisoner of Zenda), her idiosyncratic entry into films (via a beauty competition), peripatetic body of work and all-but-abandonment of her career following her sister's death during the Blitz have ensured that her career is reduced time and again to just a namecheck for The 39 Steps, which while certainly a worthy epitaph is a disservice nonetheless. By 1931, Carroll had successfully made the transition from support player to lead actor, and her role in Fascination as Gwenda Farrell a jaded actress on the rebound is arguably one of her best. Ostensibly the bad girl in a tale of marital infidelity, her warm, vulnerable performance especially so in her scenes with Dorothy Bartlam (as good girl Vera) shows just how good she could be with the right material. A significant degree of the credit for this successful character interplay can be laid at the door of director Miles Mander. Acting in British films since 1920, within a decade Mander had expanded his activities and had become an accomplished playwright, scriptwriter, dialogue polisher and director. He had scored a major hit in 1928, writing, directing and starring in The First Born based on his own play and starring opposite Madeleine Carroll. He followed this up with an adaptation of another of his plays The Woman Between, trade-shown in January 1931 and then went straight into Fascination, which was shot at BIP's Elstree studios for Regina Films and trade-shown a few months later, in July 1931. Mander's obvious skill is in coaxing appealing performances out of all his actors from the three leads, through supporting actors (special mention for Kay Hammond as Gwenda's airhead girlfriend) and even down to the walk-ons the grievously disappointed drunken toff, for instance, is a classic bit of comedy business. Unfortunately, Mander directed only three more films before concentrating wholly on acting, carving out a lucrative niche during his final working years as an in-demand character actor. From a technical point of view the film is rough around the edges, but there's a noticeable Warhol/Factory-style energy inherent in both the direction and performances which carries things through. Its script (courtesy of BIP stalwart Victor Kendall) tries gamely to transcend its theatrical origins, creating a film which gives a good kicking to the cherished prejudice that all pre-war British films are either low-rent quota fodder or high-minded, middle-class frippery. It also presents a final act so devastatingly modern in its interpersonal relationships that it beggars belief that this film is actually just over fifteen years shy of celebrating its centenary. Despite going on general release across the country, only one copy of Fascination is known to exist a 35mm print held at the bfi in its original nitrate format. Being an original exhibition print, continuous cinema projection during its theatrical run has resulted in missing frames, tears and general film damage throughout. The soundtrack is in a similar condition and, though restored as much as possible, subtitles have been created specifically for this DVD release as an aid to the viewing experience. Transferred in 2014 courtesy of a grant from the bfi's Unlocking Film Heritage fund, Fascination is one of those joyous (re)discoveries which definitively fills a gap in our knowledge of early British talkies whilst opening our eyes to how daring such films could be in the right hands. Despite its technical shortcomings, this is a film worth watching. Directed by multi-talented writer, director and actor Miles Mander, Fascination stars a luminous Madeleine Carroll heading up a strong cast in this light-hearted, emotionally engaging drama from the early 1930s. Childhood sweethearts Vera and Larry Maitland have been happily married for several years. When Larry encounters vampish actress Gwenda Farrell, however, he lets himself be led astray... and when Vera finds out the truth, her solution is a novel one! Fascination is presented here in a brand-new transfer from the only remaining copy of the film known to exist - a nitrate print. Though it has gone through a restoration process viewers will notice a drop in quality compared to other films in this range.
Madeleine Carroll – internationally famous for her role in The 39 Steps and the first of Hitchcock's glacial blonde heroines – stars with Ian Hunter and Michael Rennie in this rare and deeply moving post-war drama. Also known as High Fury White Cradle Inn is featured here in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio. Beneath the towering peaks of the Swiss Alps in peaceful White Cradle Valley stands an inn owned by Magda and her philandering husband Rudolf. During the war many small French children are evacuated to the valley. One of these refugees a boy named Roger who has lost both parents is billeted with Rudolf and Magda. When the time comes for the children to return to France Magda very much wishes to adopt Roger but her husband has taken a dislike to the boy... Special Features: Image gallery
Hitchcock's first great romantic thriller is a prime example of the "macguffin" principle in action. Robert Donat is Richard Hannay, an affable Canadian tourist in London who becomes embroiled in a deadly conspiracy when a mysterious spy winds up murdered in Hannay's rented flat--and both the police and a secret organisation wind up hot on his trail. With only a seemingly meaningless phrase ("the 39 steps"), a small Scottish town circled on a map, and a criminal mastermind identified by a missing finger as clues, quick-witted Hannay eludes police and spies alike as he works his way across the countryside to reveal the mystery and clear his name. At one point he finds himself making his escape manacled to blonde beauty Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), whose initial antagonism is smoothed by Hannay's charm. It's classic Hitchcock all the way, a seemingly effortless balance of romance and adventure set against a picturesque landscape populated by eccentrics and social-register smoothies, none of whom is what he or she appears to be. Hitchcock would play similar games of innocents plunged into deadly conspiracies, most delightfully in North by Northwest, but in this breezy 1935 classic, Hitch proves that, as in any quest, the object of the search isn't nearly as satisfying as the journey. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
An explosive tale of bravery and passion in a land ripped apart by war. The screen explodes with action and romance in this war-torn drama. Henry Fonda stars as the passionate courageous Marco a peasant farmer determined to protect his land from invading soldiers. The gorgeous Madeline Carroll is Norma the daredevil spy whose heart he captures. With gunfire thundering around them they struggle against a powerful enemy blockade that is preventing the delivery of desperately
39 Steps: Alfred Hitchcock considered The 39 Steps to be one of his favourite films partly because it launched his classic theme of the innocent man on the run from villains and lawmen. Robert Donat stars as Richard Hannay in this freely adapted version of John Buchan's story. Despite repeated remakes Hitchcock's riveting original remains unequalled. The Man Who Knew Too Much: A husband and wife's holiday in Switzerland goes horribly wrong when their daughter is kidnapped leading them into a web of mystery and intrigue...
A new Broadway show starring Gary Blake shamelessly lampoons the rich Carraway family. To get her own back, daughter Mimi sets out to ensnare Blake, but the courtship is soon for real, to the annoyance of his co-star, hoofing chanteuese Mona Merrick.
Collection of feature films inspired by the Great War. In 'I Was a Spy' (1933), Martha Cnockhaert (Madeleine Carroll) works as a spy in a German hospital, acting for the allies. Aided by orderly Stephan (Herbert Marshall), Martha plots to blow up a German ammunition dump. When Martha accompanies a German Commandant to Brussels, a change in the Kaiser's movements inadvertently reveals Martha's true purpose. '1914 All Out' (1987) is a made-for-TV drama set during World War I in a quiet Yorkshire village. While the locals are enjoying a Bank Holiday cricket match, their fun is cut short when war breaks out and the men go off to fight for their country. Set in the Scottish Orkney Islands during the First World War, 'The Spy In Black' (1939) tells the story of three German spies plotting to sink the British fleet. When U-Boat Captain Hardt (Conrad Veidt) makes contact with his beautiful co-conspirator (Valerie Hobson), he falls in love with her, but she is already having an affair with the third spy in their group, Royal Navy traitor Lieutenant Ashington (Sebastian Shaw).
Double Feature Disaster in the Atlantic On April 14 1912 the greatest ship of the time and man's monument to the technological achievement the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic would sail into the lexicon of history. At 11:46 p.m. aboard ship the lookout signaled to the bridge and reported an iceberg right ahead. Within moments the Titanic struck ice and foundered in just over 2 hours. 2 223 souls were aboard. Only 706 would survive. Countless lives would be forever changed by the disaster. Indeed the trajedy touched the hearts of people around the world. No other historical event would inspire as many literary and cinematic treatments on the subject. This historical presentation was produced in 1929 and is the first feature sound film of the disaster. The Titanic Chronicles The Titanic Chronicles was an attempt to understand what happened to the Titanic the American government held a series of hearings to investigate the disaster. These hearings were filled with eyewitness accounts that detailed every minute of that terrifying night and they represented several different points of view. The U.S. Senate hearings were opened to the public and they were held in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The hearings were chaired by Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan. Senator Smith's mission was simple: find out what had gone wrong and to discover the truth. This program is a reenactment of the most striking and revealing moments from the actual hearings. The testimony you will hear comes the closest to the truth as to why the R.M.S. Titanic now lies on the bottom of the North Atlantic.
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