Sabotage (Flashback Home Ent) (1936)

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Released 28-Aug-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1936
Running Time 76:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor
Gaumont British Pict
Flashback Home Entertainment
Starring Sylvia Sidney
Oskar Homolka
John Loder
Desmond Tester
Joyce Barbour
Matthew Boulton
S.J. Warmington
William Dewhurst
Case ?
RPI ? Music Louis Levy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English MPEG 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Unbeknownst to his wife, Mr Verloc (Oscar Homolka) is a saboteur. She thinks he is just a simple German expatriate cinema owner in London. But a blackout witnessed in the opening scenes is his work. She married him not for love but to provide a home for her younger brother. Mrs Verloc (Sylvia Sidney) is befriended by one of the employees in the nearby grocers, Ted Spencer (John Loder), who turns out to be a detective on the trail of the saboteurs. Can he root them out in time to prevent a tragedy?

    This 1936 film by Alfred Hitchcock is based on a 1907 novel by Joseph Conrad called The Secret Agent. The film has a different title because Hitchcock's previous film that year had this title, even though it too has had the title changed from that of the original material. This is not one of the master's best, but there are some effective scenes (such as the lengthy building up of suspense when Stevie is travelling on the bus with explosives due to detonate at any moment) and good use of sound.

    Sylvia Sydney was a major star in the 1930s, though modern audiences may only know her from her appearance in the Tim Burton films Beetlejuice and Mars Attacks!, the latter her last appearance on screen. She was quite a beauty in her youth, but more importantly she was a talented actress on stage and screen with quite a natural acting style. Oscar Homolka was an Austrian actor who was effective in many films until the 1970s. John Loder's part was originally to have been played by Robert Donat, but he had to withdraw due to illness. Mrs Verloc's brother Stevie is played by Desmond Tester, who three decades later would become a star on Australian TV. There are also small bits by a very young Charles Hawtrey in an amusing cameo (at this time he was well-known on radio though not on screen) and a just as young Peter Bull as one of the saboteurs.

    This is a pretty good film even today, but by Hitchcock's standards it is quite average. Worth seeing, if a decent DVD transfer ever comes your way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1.

    This is a fuzzy and blurry transfer, looking very much like it has come from a video master, and not one taken from first generation print elements. I could still make out a lot of detail, but it could not be described as sharp. Shadow detail is poor.

    Rather than solid blacks and pure whites, this is just a range of greys. It is watchable, but disappointing.

    I could not detect any film to video artefacts, apart from what looked like analogue video tracking errors in the form of brief pale horizontal lines from time to time, and some posterisation on faces. Film artefacts are omnipresent, including dirt, scratches, flecks, splice marks and reel change markings.

    No subtitles are provided on this single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is MPEG 2.0 mono.

    Dialogue is quite clear all of the time, one of the saving graces of this transfer. The timbre of the voices is well caught. However, there is omnipresent hiss, occasional clicks and dropouts, and a lot of crackling. Some of the audio sounds harsh and strident as well. There is an electronic audio blip at 10:46.

    The undistinguished music score, such that there is, is by Louis Levy and is uncredited.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    No extras are provided.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is a Region 1 release of this film coupled with Secret Agent, and the one review I have seen gives it good marks on both video and audio. On that basis I will award this to Region 1, but as always, caveat emptor.

Summary

    A good film but a poor transfer.

    The video quality is below average.

    The audio quality is pretty poor.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Are these the same releases that are on the upcoming Hithcock box set? - Alan
Are these the same releases that are on the upcoming Hithcock box set? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Best transfers - LaurieH