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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Sabotage aka "The Woman Alone" [Blu-ray]


(, 1936)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Gaumont British Picture Corporation

Video: Network



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:16:39.541

Disc Size: 18,751,367,034 bytes

Feature Size: 16,724,957,184 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 1st, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), none



Introduction by Charles Barr (3:41)
On Location featurette, introduced by Robert Powell (11:07)
Image gallery (2:27)





Description: Celebrated for the macabre, tour-de-force plots and sublime twist endings that would come to define the very genre of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock is one of cinema's greatest auteurs, his career spanning six decades and over sixty films. Based on Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent and starring Oscar Homolka and Sylvia Sidney, Sabotage is one of Hitchcock's most significant pre-war British films. Featured here in a High Definition transfer from original film elements, this classic early thriller has never looked better.

Karl Verloc, manager of a London cinema, is secretly involved with a gang of European saboteurs who are plotting a massive bomb attack in Piccadilly Circus. With the police already suspicious of Verloc, they place an undercover detective on his trail can he bring the saboteurs to justice before they perpetrate their outrage on London?



The Film:

One of the most playful of Hitchcock's British thrillers, this was adapted by Charles Bennett from Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent, which in fact had been the title of Hitch's previous film. The foreign saboteur at large in London is cinema-owner Homolka, and in part at least, his profession allows Hitchcock to indulge in the sort of movie-movie self-consciousness of which he would become the object some 40 years on. The film proceeds from the point where the lights go out (Battersea power station is the first sabotage target), and even includes a telling screen-within-a-screen homage to Disney and the Silly Symphonies. The narrative's a bit perfunctory, but is neatly overbalanced by the joyously rule-breaking sequence of a boy, a bus and a time bomb.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Sabotage demands the viewer's attention. It opens with a dictionary definition of 'Sabotage', forcing the viewer to read something and then immediately relate it to the rapidly edited sabotage of a power station. This sequence, which sets off the first act of the film, takes place in maybe a minute, maybe less. Charles Frend's editing is rapid and fluid; it's ever moving, ever graceful.

This first act almost seems like a stage play, establishing the principal cast members. There's suspicious husband Oskar Homolka, his young wife Sylvia Sidney, her younger brother (the reason why she's married to a troll, even if he's nice) Desmond Tester and, finally, the too friendly shop keep from next door John Loder.

Excerpt from TheStopButton located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Hitchcock's elusive 1936 Sabotage gets a transfer to Blu-ray from Network in the UK.  It is decent, but not overwhelming. Some may notice the contrast flickering but this settles as the film runs. The 1080P supports pleasing detail in the film's many close-ups and the textures are impressive.  It has a few speckles but no untoward damage. This Blu-ray provided me a reasonable HD presentation, all things considered, and I enjoyed it without major flaws or unforgiveable weaknesses.






















Audio :

Network uses a linear PCM 2.0 channel mono track at 1536 kbps but the weakness of the film's original audio production standards reflect the quality more than the transfer. Dialogue is not always crystal-clear but any scattering is more the source and its lack of extensive restoration. But the soundtrack by the uncredited 3 man-team of Hubert Bath - (Hitch's 1929 Blackmail), Jack Beaver and Louis Levy (the latter pair working on score compositions for The 39 Steps) adds some nice tension to the film experience. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Included are a brief 4-minute introduction by film historian Charles Barr and a 11-minute featurette on the film's locations with Robert Powell. It is reasonably interesting. There is also an image gallery with posters etc. .



Nice to own Hitchcock's Sabotage on Blu-ray. I always found this a dark film with the child aspect but Sylvia Sidney is her usual, bright, charming self. This is a very good film, IMO. This transfer is far better than any SD versions I've owned over the years and it will be a film I revisit. Despite any age-related weaknesses - this is recommended!

Gary Tooze

June 17th, 2015


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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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