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Green for Danger (The Criterion Collection)

66 customer reviews

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(Feb 13, 2007)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the midst of the Nazi blitz, a postman dies on the operating table at a rural English hospital. But was the death accidental? A delightful and wholly unexpected murder mystery, British writer/director Sidney Gilliat's Green for Danger features Trevor Howard and Sally Gray as suspected doctors and Alastair Sim in a marvelous turn as Scotland Yard's insouciant Inspector Cockrill. A screenwriter who had worked with Hitchcock on such classics as The Lady Vanishes and Jamaica Inn, Gilliat slyly upends whodunit conventions with wit and style. Part of The Criterion Collection of Fine Films.

Writer-director Sidney Gilliat isn't the household name he deserves to be, so his film Green for Danger--once an art-house perennial--qualifies as one of the major, and surely most delightful, (re)discoveries of the season. Its cunning blend of character-driven mystery, gothic dread, and inveterately English gallows humor makes for sheer movie-movie pleasure.

There's a perfect fusion of storytelling and moodmaking, plot and setting. The time is 1944, when Hitler was attacking the British populace with V-1 flying bombs. Under this ongoing siege, at an Elizabethan country manor made over as wartime hospital, someone among a half-dozen doctors and nurses is up to something sinister. Which one is anybody's guess, given the adroitly suggested crosscurrents of loathing and desire, suspicion and jealousy animating the company. After a mysterious death on the operating table, followed by a second death that's unmistakably murder, Scotland Yard enters the picture in the perversely antic form of that long drink of wormwood, the definitive Scrooge, Alastair Sim. (Actually, Sim's sepulchral voice deliciously narrates the film from the beginning.)

Gilliat, with his partner Frank Launder, had written Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (Hitch signed on after their exemplary screenplay was done) and its de facto sequel, Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich. The same talent for drollery without sacrificing tension is abundantly apparent in Green for Danger. As added inducements, the cast includes Trevor Howard and Leo Genn; the artfully shadowy cinematography is the work of Wilkie Cooper. --Richard T. Jameson

Special Features

  • Commentary by film scholar Bruce Eder
  • Video interview with British film historian Geoff Brown
  • Booklet with a new essay by writer Geoffrey O'Brien and a director's statement

Product Details

  • Actors: Alastair Sim, Trevor Howard, Rosamund John, Sally Gray, Leo Genn
  • Directors: Sidney Gilliat
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,936 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Green for Danger (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 30, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Alastair Sim is tragically remembered today for only one role: he was without any question the definitive Ebenezer Scrooge, and usually the only film that anyone today has seen featuring Sim is his 1951 turn in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. In fact, Sim starred in a wide range of comedic and dramatic roles in the 1940s and 1950s. He was a familiar enough presence that Alec Guinness paid homage to him by doing a straightforward imitation of Sim in the 1955 film THE LADYKILLERS, evening wearing false teeth to look more like Sim.
Sim managed to play in a large number of comedic suspense and mystery films. He starred in a series of Inspector Hornleigh films in the early forties, he went on to play memorable roles in wartime mysteries such as COTTAGE TO LET (with a very young John Mills in a key role), GREEN FOR DANGER, AN INSPECTOR CALLS (in which he plays a ghostly police inspector), and THE GREEN MAN, in which Sim plays a congenial assassin. But Sim also excelled in pure farce, and was magnificent in such films as THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE, LAUGHTER IN PARADISE, and the St. Trinian movies, which he played largely in drag. Sim, with his large frame, lugubrious eyes, and marvelously dramatic voice, was a delight in every film he graced, but today is primarily known for Scrooge, as noted above.
There is actually a very good historical reason for the demise of Sim's reputation and of British cinema in general. In the fifties and sixties, French auteur criticism came more and more to dominate European and American film criticism. One of the central assumptions of auteur critics has been that British cinema, with the almost exclusive exception of pre-Hollywood Hitchcock and the workd of Michael Powell and Eric Pressburger, has been an aesthetic wasteland.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Laura Ann Scaife on November 27, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was absolutely thrilled to see that "Green For Danger" is finally being released on DVD. This is without a doubt one of the very best murder mysteries ever put onto film. Everything about this film, the acting, the writing, the direction, the photography - everything is world class. And Alastair Sim as Inspector Cockrill is the icing on the cake. If I had any complaint to make against this film it would be this - Why didn't this film lead to a whole series of Inspector Cockrill films? This is a wonderful piece of entertainment and I would urge any film fan not to miss it.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By D. Guenzel on February 10, 2007
Format: DVD
I've seen the Criterion dvd of GREEN FOR DANGER and all I can say is "thank you" to Criterion for the care they lavished on it. It is, without question, the finest video presentation ever seen of this brilliant film. After years of watching dark, grainy 16mm prints on TV (and dark, grainy vhs copies and laserdiscs) it is truly wonderful to see this top-flight dvd.

The film is, of course, the penultimate British murder mystery, the best that has ever been done. Let's face it: no movie that rates an entire chapter in a book ("The Detective Film" by Everson) can be dismissed lightly. Just get the disc and enjoy it. Those reviewers who recommended you curl up on a cold and windy night with a cup of warm liquid and watch it have given you sage advice.

At last GREEN FOR DANGER's gorgeous cinematography by Wilkie Cooper can be appreciated for the thing of beauty that it is. It is not for nothing that the American Society of Cinematographers included this picture in their list of the Best Photographed Films of the 1940s. Cooper's work is quite simply marvelous and is a textbook example of how to photograph a black and white film. This beautiful dvd transfer also enables us to appreciate the fine sets by Peter Proud, an art director of enormous talent and ingenuity.

Criterion also cleaned up the soundtrack to an amazing degree. I couldn't believe it at first when I heard it. The dialog is now razor sharp and William Alwyn's music...oh, my goodness is it a nice score!

Here is one that is a must for your library. Get it and enjoy it. And if you like it (and I cannot imagine that you wouldn't) go order another wonderful Launder-Gilliat film I SEE A DARK STRANGER. Again, thanks Criterion!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Friedman on February 14, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Like one of the other reviewers, I recall the chapter-long discussion of this wonderful film in THE DETECTIVE IN FILM, a great book about movie mysteries that you can and SHOULD seek out at a second hand bookstore. It made me want to see the film and read the book. I know I'm paraphrasing the above film resource somewhat when I say that, in addition to the amazing performances by Alistair Sim as Inspector Cockrill and the other members of a terrific cast of suspects, the cinematography is fantastic. I cannot wait to see a clean print, such as I have come to expect from Criterion; the only prints I've seen have been old scratchy reels of film. There are many elements of the horror film used here, and the scenes where the murderer's travels are shown from that person's point of view are especially effective. What's more, as a devout mystery lover, I have to give kudos for the screenplay's retention of the complex and effective plot. This isn't one of those many mysteries of the 30's and 40's where the least likely suspect (usually some genial friend or father figure) turns out to be the killer, or where you know the murderer's identity because of the actor who plays the part. (Did Ralph Morgan ever NOT play the killer???)

I don't know if any of you have read Christianna Brand's Inspector Cockrill mysteries, so I'd like to take this opportunity to plug her ten or so mysteries as REALLY great! GREEN FOR DANGER is perhaps the best, with a marvelous denouement (the motive for the initial killing is startlingly original.) But the others all have their charms, especially TOUR DE FORCE, where Cockrill vacations on a tropical island and FOG OF DOUBT, with one of her most effective twist endings where you kick yourself at the end for not uncovering the killer's identity.
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