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Classic British Thrillers (The Phantom Light / Red Ensign / The Upturned Glass) (1935)

James Mason , Michael Powell  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Classic British Thrillers (The Phantom Light / Red Ensign / The Upturned Glass) + British Cinema Classic B Film Collection, Vol. 1 (Tread Softly Stranger / The Siege of Sidney Street / The Frightened Man / Crimes at the Dark House / The Hooded Terror / Girl in the News) + British Cinema Drama Collection: The Rough and the Smooth, The Scamp, Grand National Night, Kill Me Tomorrow
Price for all three: $71.18

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Mason
  • Directors: Michael Powell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: July 29, 2008
  • Run Time: 209 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00177Y9WA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,442 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

he British Cinematograph Films Act of 1927 was passed to give motion pictures made in the United Kingdom an edge over Hollywood imports. However technically crude, these low budget quota quickies provided on-the-job training for some of the biggest stars of the Golden Age of British Cinema.

The disappearance of two lighthouse keepers stationed on the desolate coast of Wales is linked to the specter of a rogue beacon that lures freight ships to their destruction on the rocks. Gordon Harker (Alfred Hitchcock s THE RING) and Binnie Hale (LOVE FROM A STRANGER) star as bickering sleuths who must solve the mystery of The Phantom Light or become its next victims!

With England s commercial fleet in decline, idealistic shipbuilder David Barr (THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME s Leslie Banks) conceives a radical new design to revolutionize the industry. Denied capital to proceed by his firm s board of directors, Barr funds the project himself, attracting the support of a beautiful heiress and the attention of a ruthless rival who will stop at nothing, even murder, to obtain Barr s top secret design.

After sparing the eyesight of a young patient, Dr. Michael Joyce falls in love with the girl s grateful mother, Emma Wright (Rosamund John), whose husband has been absent for years. When her man returns unexpectedly, Emma reluctantly ends the affair, only to be killed in a mysterious fall. Using his surgical skills to trace the killer, Michael begins his own investigation but has no intention of handing the murderer over to the police.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lighthouse, a boat, a plummet July 10, 2008
The two Michael Powell directed pictures in CLASSIC BRITISH THRILLERS give good indication of the great work he'd produce later, although they are somewhat hampered by small budgets. The James and Pamela Mason murder mystery is quite engaging.


THE PHANTOM LIGHT-- The lighthouse keeper at a quaint Welsh coast village dies mysteriously, and his lighthouse is now supposedly haunted-- an unexplained light keeps shining on the scene of his death. The story's atmosphere is literal, with lots of blanketing fog, plus a murder mystery that's equally shrouded and obscured. Primarily filmed within a lighthouse, this whodunit has more than its share of ethnic humor.

RED ENSIGN-- Leslie Banks plays a somewhat pushy manager of a shipyard whose revolutionary boat design encounters much opposition and skullduggery from the competition and his own financers.

THE UPTURNED GLASS-- A story told in flashback. Neurosurgeon's affair with a married woman ends with her defenestrated death. Suspecting the woman's sister is involved, the surgeon plots revenge on her. Easily the best of this small collection. Co-written by Pamela Mason.

CLASSIC FILM NOIR, Vol. 3 - 10 Movie Pack (from ST. CLAIR) contains one very fine British-made suspense movie, plus many other unusual stories.

Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 viewer poll ratings found at a film resource website.

(5.3) The Phantom Light (UK-1935) - Binnie Hale/Gordon Harker/Ian Hunter/Donald Calthrop/Milton Rosmer

(5.8) Red Ensign (UK-1934) - Leslie Banks/Carol Goodner/Frank Vosper/Alfred Drayton/Donald Calthrop

(6.5) The Upturned Glass (UK-1947) - James Mason/Rosamund John/Pamela Mason/Ann Stephens/Morland Gray
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Classic Movies Worth Watching October 26, 2008
Verified Purchase
I discovered this DVD in a recent review in the NYT. They highly recommended it, and so do I. The DVD consists of three unrelated films: The Red Ensign (1935), The Phantom Light (1935), and the Upturned Glass (1947). All address different subjects.

The first movie, The Red Ensign, tells the tale of a patriotic British shipbuilder, who intends to use his radical new cargo ship design to bolster the declining British shipbuilding industry. Unable to attract the necessary capitol, he funds the building himself and runs into financial ruin and commercial disasters. It is a highly patriotic story, tracing the shipbuilder's willingness to do anything at any cost to achieve his ends.

The Phantom Light is set in Wales (probably North Wales) and in the first few scenes, has authentic characters dressed in native costumes speaking Welsh. The story centers on the lighthouse and mysterious tales of a second "phantom light" from the mountains that lures ships to the rocks and their destruction. Two lighthouse keepers have died under questionable circumstances, and the arrival of a new lighthouse keeper coincides with two disguised sleuths seeking to solve the mystery. While not profound, it is an interesting look back into that time period.

It is the third movie which makes this DVD worthwhile. In the Upturned Glass, a young James Mason stars as a neuro-surgeon who restores a child's eyesight and falls in love with her mother. The affair ends and the mother mysteriously dies, falling out of a window. The doctor begins his own investigation into the case, seeking revenge against the killer. The movie is gripping, as good as any modern suspense movie, with an unforgettable and startling ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The movie is The Phantom Light. The benefit of Classic British Thrillers is that it gives us two Powell quota quickies. We can see some of the elements that later made Powell one of the great film directors and, with his partner Emeric Pressburger, co-creators in the Forties of some of the greatest British films ever made.

Phantom Light, The (1935):
Michael Powell made about 15 quota quickies in seven years during the Thirties. These quota quickies meant two things: First, a lot of second-rate British movies were made. Second, a lot of British filmmakers, like Michael Powell, learned their craft making these things.

Poor Sam Higgins (Gordon Harker, a fine, funny character actor who specialized in blokes). He arrives in the tiny Welsh coastal village of Tan-y-bwlch to take charge of the North Stack lighthouse. He gets more than he wanted. Harker learns from the villagers that two previous light keepers disappeared and the man he's going to replace at the lighthouse is still out there, gone barmy. Sam also hears about the ships that have gone up on the rocks...when the light goes out...and a phantom light on the cliffs goes on.

By the time Sam gets out to the lighthouse it's pitch black with heavy fog. The mad man he replaced has had to stay put because he's too sick to be moved. It's not long before there are more people in the lighthouse than Sam wants, and not all of them he knows about.

The Phantom Light is funny, dark and dangerous, with a wonderful performance by Gordon Harker, all working class shrewdness and exasperation. The movie is stuffed full of the things Michael Powell loved in a movie...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Nice disc, good quality prints and great to get to see The Phantom Light at last.
Published 1 month ago by S P Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and surprising films
Very understated and entertaining films from the Brits. Acting talent abounds and these are a pleasure to watch. Stories are compelling.
Published 6 months ago by W. R. Muhr
5.0 out of 5 stars Three gems in one box
Each of these marvelous entries wonderfully balance madcap comedy, history, and mystery. I'd like to think that whoever decided to place these different themes in a sampler did so... Read more
Published 8 months ago by John P. Morris
1.0 out of 5 stars BORING
I havn't watched the The Upturned Glass yet. I was so disappointed with the other 2 films. I LOVE old films but these are wooden performances without interesting story lines or... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Barbara Colvin-Kerr
4.0 out of 5 stars who is the upturned glass?
The Upturned Glass was the only really good movie in this collection. The viewer is led to believe that James Mason`s character is the upturned glass and that he is a paranoid... Read more
Published on July 2, 2012 by Jay Holder
3.0 out of 5 stars Thrillers?
Bought this collection of 'thrillers' hoping for early British films that are similar to The Third Man but was sorely disappointed. Read more
Published on May 5, 2010 by Steven Haskins
1.0 out of 5 stars Expected better
The Red Ensign was not what I would call a thriller. It was slow moving and unengaging.

The Phantom light had its moments- still not a real thriller. Read more
Published on September 28, 2009 by C. MacPherson
3.0 out of 5 stars Two of Three
The Phantom Light and The Upturned Glass are most enjoyable, especially the latter. I could not endure to the end of the Red Ensign.
Published on September 18, 2009 by Duane Thorp
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