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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection (1926-1947)

Cast: Tallulah Bankhead, Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, more...
Director: Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock
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Studio: MGM
Genre: Action, Classics, Drama, Horror, Suspense/Thriller, Slashers, Classic Action/Adventure, Ghosts, Classic Drama, Adventure, Espionage, War, WWII, Cold War
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Synopses
Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Notorious (Disc 4 of 8) (1946)
Though Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious was produced by David O. Selznick's Vanguard Films, Selznick himself had little to do with the production, which undoubtedly pleased the highly independent Hitchcock. Ingrid Bergman plays Alicia Huberman, who goes to hell in a handbasket after her father, an accused WWII traitor, commits suicide. American secret agent Devlin (Cary Grant) is ordered to enlist the libidinous Alicia's aid in trapping Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), the head of a Brazilian neo-Nazi group. Openly contemptuous of Alicia despite her loyalty to the American cause, Devlin calmly instructs her to woo and wed Sebastian, so that that good guys will have an "inside woman" to monitor the Nazi chieftain's activities. It is only after Alicia and Sebastian are married that Devlin admits to himself that he's fallen in love with her. The "MacGuffin" in this case is a cache of uranium ore, hidden somewhere on Sebastian's estate. Upon discovering that his wife is a spy, Sebastian balks at eliminating her until ordered to do so by his virago of a mother (Madame Konstantin). Tension mounts to a fever pitch as Devlin, a day late and several dollars short, strives to rescue Alicia from Sebastian's homicidal designs. Of the several standout sequences, the film's highlight is an extended love scene between Alicia and Devlin, which manages to ignite the screen while still remaining scrupulously within the edicts of the Production Code. In later years, Hitchcock never tired of relating the story of how he and screenwriter Ben Hecht (who was nominated for an Oscar) fell under the scrutiny of the FBI after electing to use uranium as a plot device -- this before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A huge moneymaker for everyone concerned, Notorious remains one of Hitchcock's best espionage melodramas. In 1992, Notorious was remade for cable television; it goes without saying that the original is vastly superior.

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Rebecca (Disc 5 of 8) (1940)
Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, the classic psychological thriller Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock's first American film. Joan Fontaine plays the unnamed narrator, a young woman who works as a companion to the well-to-do Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates). She meets the wealthy widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) in Monte Carlo, where they fall in love and get married. Maxim takes his new bride to Manderlay, a large country estate in Cornwall. However, the mansion's many servants refuse to accept her as the new lady of the house. They seem to be loyal to Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, who died under mysterious circumstances. Particularly cruel to her is the prim housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who is obsessed with Rebecca. She continually attests to her beauty and virtues (referring to her as "the real Mrs. de Winter") and even preserves her former bedroom as a shrine. The new Mrs. de Winter is nearly driven to madness as she begins to doubt her relationship with her husband and the presence of Rebecca starts to haunt her. Eventually, an investigation leads to the revelation about Rebecca's true nature. Producer David O. Selznick had the final cut of the picture, which was drastically altered from Hitchcock's original vision.

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Sabotage (Disc 6 of 8) (1936)
Oskar Homolka plays a London movie-theatre owner who maintains a secret life as a paid terrorist. Homolka's wife Sylvia Sidney doesn't suspect Homolka of any wrongdoing, but she's picked up enough second-hand information about her husband's activities to arouse the interest of government agent (John Loder). Posing as a grocer, Loder moves next door to the Homolkas, befriending Sidney and her precocious young brother Desmond Tester. Sensing that he's being watched, Homolka sends Tester out to deliver a reel of film. The reel contains a time bomb, but Homolka is certain that the boy will deliver his package on time and will be safely away by the time the bomb explodes. Thus begins one of Hitchcock's most electrifying suspense sequences, as the unsuspecting boy is delayed en route to his destination. Sabotage was based on Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent; the film was retitled A Woman Alone in the US.

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Spellbound (Disc 7 of 8) (1945)
As Alfred Hitchcock's classic psychothriller opens, the staff of a posh mental asylum eagerly awaits the arrival of the new director. When the man in question shows up, it turns out to be handsome psychiatrist John Ballantine (Gregory Peck). But something's wrong, here: Ballantine seems much too young for so important a position; his answers to the staff's questions are vague and detached; and he seems unusually distressed by the parallel marks, left by a fork, on a white tablecloth. Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman) comes to the conclusion that Ballantine is not the new director, but a profoundly disturbed amnesiac--and, possibly, the murderer of the real director. But is she correct in her inferences? Scriptwriters Angus MacPhail and Ben Hecht soon add to this the complication that Constance begins to fall in love with John. Director Hitchcock tapped surrealist artist Salvador Dali to design the visually arresting dream sequences in the film.

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Lifeboat (Disc 1 of 8) (1944)
Seeking a creative challenge after several years' worth of fairly elaborate melodramas, director Alfred Hitchcock stages all of the action in Lifeboat in one tiny boat, adrift in the North Atlantic. The boat holds eight survivors of a Nazi torpedo attack: sophisticated magazine writer/photographer Constance Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), Communist seaman John Kovac (John Hodiak), nurse Alice MacKenzie (Mary Anderson), mild-mannered radio-operator Stan (Hume Cronyn), seriously wounded Brooklynese stoker Gus Smith (William Bendix), insufferable-capitalist Charles Rittenhouse (Henry Hull), black-steward George Spencer (Canada Lee) and half-mad passenger Mrs. Higgins (Heather Angel), who carries the body of her dead baby. This adroitly calculated cross-section of humanity is reduced by one when Mrs. Higgins kills herself. After a day or so of floating aimlessly about, the castaways pick up another passenger, Willy (Walter Slezak), who is a survivor from the German U-boat. At first everyone assumes that Willy cannot speak English, but when the necessity arises he reveals himself to be conversant in several languages and highly intelligent; in fact, he was the U-boat's captain. As the only one on board with any sense of seamanship, Willy steers a course to his mother ship, while the others resign themselves to being prisoners of war. After it becomes necessary to amputate Gus's leg, Willy decides that the burly stoker is excess weight; while the others sleep, he tosses Gus overboard, watching dispassionately as the poor man drowns. When the rest of the passengers discover what he's done, all of them (with one significant exception) violently gang up on Gus, and once more, the lifeboat drifts about sans navigation. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Lodger (Disc 3 of 8) (1926)
While the silent The Lodger was not director Alfred Hitchcock's first film, it was the first to truly deserve the designation "A Hitchcock Picture". British matinee idol Ivor Novello plays Jonathan Drew, a quiet, secretive young man who rents a room in a London boarding house. Drew's arrival coincides with the reign of Terror orchestrated by Jack the Ripper. As the film progresses, circumstantial evidence begins to mount, pointing to Drew as the selfsame Ripper. In addition to Novello's 1932 remake, The Lodger was remade in 1944 with Laird Cregar, then again in 1953 as Man in the Attic, with Jack Palance as Jonathan Drew.

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Paradine Case (Disc 8 of 8) (1947)
Based on a novel by Robert Hichens, The Paradine Case concerns Anna Paradine (Alida Valli), on trial for the murder of her wealthy husband. British barrister Anthony Keane (played by the aggressively American Gregory Peck) takes on the case-and in the process, falls in love with Anna, despite being married himself. Despite his client's protests, Keane summons Anna's lover, unkempt stableman Andre Latour (Louis Jourdan), hoping to prove in court that Latour was the killer. Only after a series of stunning upsets does Keane realize that, for the first time in his career, he has allowed his heart to rule his head. In a typically perverse Hitchcockian development, the film's most unpleasant character, an autocratic, vindictive judge played by Charles Laughton, is one of the few who can see through Anna's facade. Hitchcock had wanted Greta Garbo to play Anna Paradine, and indeed a screen test was filmed, but Garbo ultimately declined. At the time of filming, Hitchcock was enamored with uninterrupted, 10-minute takes (later used to the extreme in Rope); thus, the Old Bailey courtroom set where much of the action takes place was designed to accommodate multiple cameras and elaborately conceived crane movements. Such techniques were cumbersome in 1947, and as a result the over-illuminated set ended up costing $70,000, jacking up the film's overall budget to a whopping $3 million (quite a pretty penny in those days). The film was a box-office disappointment, spelling the end of the always-rocky association between Alfred Hitchcock and producer David O. Selznick.

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Young and Innocent (Disc 2 of 8) (1937)
As early as 1937's Young and Innocent, Alfred Hitchcock was beginning to repeat himself, but audiences didn't mind so long as they were thoroughly entertaining-which they were, without fail. Derrick De Marney finds himself in a 39 Steps situation when he is wrongly accused of murder. While a fugitive from the law, De Marney is helped by heroine Nova Pilbeam, who three years earlier had played the adolescent kidnap victim in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. The obligatory "fish out of water" scene, in which the principals are briefly slowed down by a banal everyday event, occurs during a child's birthday party. The actual villain, whose identity is never in doubt (Hitchcock made thrillers, not mysteries) is played by George Curzon, who suffers from a twitching eye. Curzon's revelation during an elaborate nightclub sequence is a Hitchcockian tour de force, the sort of virtuoso sequence taken for granted in these days of flexible cameras and computer enhancement, but which in 1937 took a great deal of time, patience and talent to pull off. Released in the US as The Girl Was Young, Young and Innocent was based on a novel by Josephine Tey.

GreenCine Member Ratings

Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Notorious (Disc 4 of 8) (1946)
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8.25 (12 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Rebecca (Disc 5 of 8) (1940)
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8.28 (18 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Sabotage (Disc 6 of 8) (1936)
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8.50 (4 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Spellbound (Disc 7 of 8) (1945)
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8.70 (10 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Lifeboat (Disc 1 of 8) (1944)
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7.57 (7 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Lodger (Disc 3 of 8) (1926)
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7.20 (5 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Paradine Case (Disc 8 of 8) (1947)
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7.33 (6 votes)
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Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: Young and Innocent (Disc 2 of 8) (1937)
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7.75 (4 votes)
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Best Picture Oscar Winners: 1940s
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© 2006 All Media Guide, LLC. Portions of content provided by All Movie Guide®, a trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.