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Lifeboat (Special Edition) (1944)

Tallulah Bankhead , John Hodiak , Alfred Hitchcock  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)

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Lifeboat (Special Edition) + TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Hitchcock Thrillers (Suspicion / Strangers on a Train / The Wrong Man / I Confess) + Rebecca
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Walter Slezak, William Bendix, Mary Anderson
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Alfred Hitchcock, Ben Hecht, Jo Swerling, John Steinbeck
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock, Darryl F. Zanuck, Kenneth Macgowan, William Goetz
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • 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: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: October 18, 2005
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A9QK7I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,449 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lifeboat (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The Making of Lifeboat
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Still gallery
  • Commentary by Film Professor Drew Casper

Editorial Reviews

Nominated for three Academy Awards, Alfred Hitchcock's "absorbing brilliantly executed" (Hollywood Reporter) World War II drama, is a remarkable story of human survival.

After their ship is sunk in the Atlantic by Germans, eight people are stranded in a lifeboat, among them a glamorous journalist (Tallulah Bankhead), a tough seaman (John Hodiak), a nurse (Mary Anderson) and an injured sailor (William Bendix). Their problems are further compounded when they pick up a ninth passenger - the Nazi captain from the U-boat that torpedoed them. With its powerful interplay of suspense and emotion, this legendary classic is a microcosm of humanity, revealing the subtleties of man's strengths and frailties under extraordinary duress.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 154 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Lifeboat is an early masterpiece from Hitchcock, whose today is better know for his colour-period other masterpieces like REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE BIRDS, etc.

But this great film (I guess, the only one he made to Twentieth Century Fox) is one his best works from his american B&W period along with REBECCA and NOTORIOUS. And it shows....

Lifeboat was a play by John Steinback, in which, after a dramatic sea battle, a group of passengers get together on a lifeboat after the ocean liner they were travelling at gets sunk by a german U-boat (that also sunk).

This premisse is the perfect environment for Hitchcock to show his best characteristic: a director who loves to work under self imposed constrictions so he can turn these same constrictions to his own advantage. The constriction I'm talking about is his best mark: closed spaces, single settings, the challenge of making the audience unaware that they are in just one big room.

Stranded in the middle of the Atlantic we see a micro society: the rich spoiled girl in a mink coat (Talullah Bankhead in a great role), an industrialist, a sailor, a mother with her dead baby, a nurse, a engeneer, a steward... and the german captain from the U-boat that was responsible for the whole tragedy.

As the survivors try to cope with their new condition, they cannot agree on the direction their lifeboat should take in a desperate attempt to reach an allied ship. Should they trust one of theirs and risk to die adrift... or should they trust the wise experienced german captain who may or may not be leading them towards a german ship that may be somewhere close.

And then comes the question: is the german captain a prisoner of the group...
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Hitchcock April 10, 2008
Format:DVD
Alfred Hitchcock's daring wartime drama rises to the technical challenge of being confined to a small set. Based on a story by John Steinbeck, "Lifeboat" (1944) remains among the director's most humanistic works with its emotional claustrophobia and incisive characterizations. Though a bit dialogue-heavy, the Master of Suspense creates a surprising amount of tension and intrigue throughout the film's 96-minute length. Tallulah Bankhead gives her finest screen performance, yet the entire cast is excellent. A minor classic in the Hitchcock canon.
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91 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an answer as to the wait for the Lifeboat DVD July 28, 2005
Format:DVD
I have a pal at Fox Home Video. The reason we have all been waiting for this release is due to the poor condition of the original film elements. For those of you who owned the laserdisc edition, remember that the first reel was plagued with water damage (almost fitting for this type of movie). Rumor has it that this fine grain master print was the best Fox had available at the time...that the negative was not around...not necessarily lost, just not able to be located. My buddy tells me that this is no longer the case and that restoration work has been ongoing for the better part of a year on this title. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lesser Known Hitchcock January 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Lifeboat isn't as famous as some of Hitchcock's other films, but it deserves to be seen today. It's a chance to see Tallulah Bankhead, who if anything, had a very interesting screen presence. She was an original. It's also a chance to see a very human portrayal of an African American character (Canada Lee) at a time when Hollywood rarely did that. There is also a lot of commentary about the Germans and the war, which given the time when this film was made (during the war), makes it all the more fascinating. The performances are good (including a very young Hume Cronyn), and Hitchcock manages to keep the action moving despite having so limited a space in which to do so. If you like Alfred Hitchcock, this is one you should see.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Film From The Master Of Suspense July 23, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Lifeboat where do i begin? well for starters i guess it would have to be that this is one of my all time favorite Films from Alfred Hitchcock. But to most people they have never heard of Lifeboat. Yeah it was one of his early works but one of his best. Most people when they think of Hitchcock they think of Psycho ans The Birds and Vertigo. But this is better than the birds. It has a human story and ever increasing the tension. In a by gone era of hollywood when movies were grand in spectical not budget.
Lifeboat is about a freighter that is heading to New York. But is sunk by a German U-boat and in the opening scenes there is Tallulah Bankhead in a lifeboat all by herself with all of her belongings. Then one by one they pick up more survivors the tension increasing when they pick up a crewman of the U-boat. Only Hitchcock would make his backlot movie with fake clouds seem so real and make a the ocean look vast and barren. He also manages to elict good performances from Bankhead,Walter Slezak, Canada Lee and others.
I would highly reccomend that you check out this film from the master of suspense. this is not to be missed of put of. It is very suspensful i mean would you come to expect less from Hitchcock.
SEE THIS MOVIE I BEG YOU.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This review is for the 2005 Twentieth Century Fox DVD.

The movie doesn't waste any time assembling ten adults in a lifeboat that was launched from a sinking freighter torpedoed by a German U-Boat in the Atlantic during World War II. Nine of the crew came from the freighter, while the tenth is a survivor of the U-Boat, which was also sunk during this confrontation. The more notable characters include: a world famous news reporter, Connie Smith (Tallulah Bankhead); a U-Boat Captain (Walter Slezak); a freighter engine man, John Kovac (John Hodiak); a freighter captain Gus Smith (William Bendix); and a wealthy industrialist, 'Ritt' Rittenhouse (Henry Hull). The survivors are confronted with plenty of moral challenges among themselves as well as battling nature with very limited food, water and other life-sustaining essentials.

There's rarely a dull moment in this film as the freighter survivors are faced with many moral dilemmas including saving a person who is responsible for sinking their ship and killing hundreds of their fellow crewmen. Murphy's Law (if something can go wrong, it probably will) seems to also run amuck in this story. Since it was made and released during WWII, there's clearly a sense of Allied moral superiority. The best performance and screen presence far and away is by Tallulah Bankhead, but all of the other actors give stellar performances. Canada Lee's recitation of the 23rd Psalm is simply great! I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it clearly has Hitchcock's artistry and personal touches throughout the film including his clever cameo appearance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A exellant movie
Published 5 days ago by James M. Lucsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great war movie; but so much more! Good digital transference.
Published 9 days ago by Cheesehead
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good and Intense
Great, old movie based on a John Steinbeck novella written expressly for this Hitchcock production (even though Steinbeck wasn't pleased with the final results and wanted his name... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Brian P.
1.0 out of 5 stars This movie is considered a classic, I will never ...
This movie is considered a classic, I will never understand why. The acting is awful and the characters are a joke.
Published 18 days ago by Robert Lamoureux
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Nice movie for senior citizens. T. Bankhead was quite good.
Published 20 days ago by worker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent acting. Hitchcock is the best.
Published 28 days ago by Cheryl C. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Tallulah...Tallulah!!
A must have movie for any one who is a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. The cast is perfection. I highly recommend purchasing this now, before it is only available in BlueRay.
Published 1 month ago by Ex Libre
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
It's a Hitchcock film need I say more. The plot is not only quite interesting but also well constructed since the film takes place in a "Lifeboat".
Published 1 month ago by Stan Makowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat is really something
It is amazing how a whole movie can be captured in a lifeboat. Movie is really done well and the characters very interesting.
Published 2 months ago by MD Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Single theme plot.
Classic Hitchcock film, with suspense, experimental camera angles and set ups, twists and turns. Great and wonderful design and direction.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
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