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Downhill aka When Boys Leave Home [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Gainsborough Pictures
Video: Divisa Home Video
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 19,560,898,711 bytes
Feature Size: 18,086,946,816 bytes
Video Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: November 7th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1629 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1629 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• A Profile of Hitchcock the Early Years (24:02)
Description: Ivor Novello, public school sixth-former, loyally takes the blame when a chum impregnates Mabel, the tuck shop temptress. Cast out of the family circle, he becomes a chorus boy in the West End, inherits some money, marries a gold-digger, goes broke again and works as a taxi dancer-cum-gigolo in Paris. Finally he is (or hallucinates that he is) transported back to London and into the apologetic arms of his family. The author of the source play - 'David L'Estrange' - was a pseudonym for Novello and Constance Collier, and this adaptation abounds in Novello-esque gay motifs: brutish father, voluptuous victimhood, bloody women. It's directed by Hitchcock with imagination and, especially in the first half, much comedy. Essentially though, this should be filed under 'Novello'.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Downhill, made at Gainsborough Studios in 1927, was written by its star, Ivor Novello in collaboration with Constance Collier. Released the United States as When Boys Leave Home, it was the story of a young boy accused of stealing at his school. Although completely innocent, he is expelled from school. His father, outraged at what the boy has supposedly done, rejects him, and boy leaves home. He goes to Paris, has an affair with an actress, and eventually comes home to his parents. They are remorseful after learning their son was innocent. Hitchcock experimented with some dream sequences by shooting them in super-impositions and blurred images; this was unlike the work of most other directors of that time except possibly the early work of Rene Clair (Entr’ Acte) and Abel Gance (La Folie de Docteur Tub, Napoleon).Excerpt from BritMovie located HERE
Superlative technique from the 27-year-old Hitchcock almost – but not quite – compensates for the major script problems (see below). Camerawork is consistently imaginative and ahead-of-its-time, including some startling hand-held sequences towards the end as Roddy staggers, fever-stricken, off a boat. Most breathtakingly virtuouso touch is a complex shot pulling back from Roddy adjusting his tie – we think he's dressing up for a fancy evening out, then realise he's working as a waiter, and then realise he's playing a waiter on stage. Brilliantly done. Hitchcock is clearly not especially interested in the story (who can blame him?) but uses it as an excuse to explore the medium (much use of colour-tints to indicate the 'moods' of various scenes) and generally learn the ropes. Despite being in his early thirties during filming, Novello is surprisingly convincing as an 18-year-old schoolboy in the opening sections. Strong, naturalistic performance from Hitchcock regular Ian Hunter as West End bloke-about-town Archie – Roddy's rival for the affections of prominent actress Julia (Isabel Jeans, also quite nifty).Excerpt from Niel Young's Film Lounge located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Hitchcock's silent Downhill aka When Boys Leave Home arrives on Blu-ray from Divisa out of Spain. This appears to be the theatrical, 106-minute, version as opposed to the previously available 80-minute release - as found on most DVDs (ex. Hitchcock The British Years). It's single-layered with a modest bitrate but has some impressive moments in 1080P. There are smatterings of light damage and plenty of marks but generally I was pleased. the sepia tint dominates but there is some grey. It is in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and contrast and detail seem to hold up well - age considered. This Blu-ray was obviously at the mercy of the 87-year old source but I enjoyed the presentation.
Note: It starts with the 'BFI Film Forever' logo intimating it is the restored 2012 version (as does the tinting).
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
I don't know much about the score - excepting it is heavily, and exclusively, piano-based and sounds beautifully crisp and tight via the DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1629 kbps. I was quite impressed with the sound quality and depth. There are optional (yes, totally removable) Spanish subtitles - used on the intertitles and credits - and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE playable on Blu-ray players worldwide.
Extras include plenty of Spanish text screens, a photo gallery and the 24-minute (PAL sped-up) A Profile of Hitchcock the Early Years. It seems to be from Carlton but has imposed Spanish subtitles. It focuses on his early years looking at Hitchcock's breakthrough in silent films - as well as thrillers such as The 39 Steps and the circumstances which encouraged his move to America in 1939.
February 11th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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