Hitchcock goes to sea in this Oscar-nominated character piece. Tallulah Bankhead
is among the survivors of a Nazi torpedo attack on a cruise ship, but tensions
on board the rescue craft are as lethal as the German threat
Based on a John Steinbeck story, this taut, tense psychological thriller, set entirely on a lifeboat following the bombing of a luxury liner, anticipates the claustrophobic atmosphere of both Rear Window and Rope. A simple premise tightens the dramatic focus and the film explores the delicate balance of power among the survivors as they suffer the consequences of their own and one another's folly.
The personalities themselves are neatly drawn archetypes (posh, rough, rich, tender, former-thief and bloke.) Of these Bankhead dominates as a haughty society journalist and even in these straightened circumstances there are clashes over race and class. It's the arrival of Nazi Captain Willy (Slezak) that provides the dramatic impetus, inspiring both hope and danger.
Released in the penultimate year of the war, the film was subsequently derided as Allied propaganda. Certainly there are elements of that here. But other aspects compensate and the result of the survivors' rising hysteria suggests human beings are quite capable of screwing things up without the intervention of government.
Theatrical Release: January 11th, 1944
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
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|Distribution||20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.31 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital Mono)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
by: Drew Casper
NOTE: Masters of Cinema's Region 'B' Lifeboat Blu-ray is compared to this DVD HERE.
I understand that the negative was not in the best of shape (nitrate decomposition) but this presentation is certainly acceptable. It ranges from very sharp to moderately hazy at times. There is a bit of damage and some scratches but it is sporadic - principally at the 10:00 mark we see some extensive damage which is very similar to snow - this comes and goes but is not on the screen long. Contrast fluctuates throughout. I see some film grain (which I personally like) and contrast levels are, for the most part, very good but it also exhibits some inconsistencies. I watched the 'Making of...' and was very pleased by it, but am only part way through the commentary. I listened to the entire Drew Casper commentary and it is excellent and very detailed - this guys knows his stuff. Audio gives options for both stereo and mono. I listened to the mono track and it sounded quite good - surprisingly so. I hope our review will not stop anyone buying this disc - it is a much desired classic Hitchcock film that we are extremely pleased to see make its debut. A classic... and Fox has not let us down.