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155 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OVERLOOKED HITCHCOCK GEM GETS ROYAL TREATMENT - AT LAST!!!, August 14, 2005
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This review is from: Lifeboat (Special Edition) (DVD)
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... or is the whole group prisoner of just one german?

Can you believe the dramatic possibilities of such an idea?

Well... being a Hitchcock movie, you'll never see a dull moment... nor the camera stuck by the fact we are in just one set. Everything in this movie is right... actors, cinematography, direction, special effects... everything in this movie is a great example of classical Hollywood... and the story has great pace... and never lets the audience for a moment feel bored. There's plenty action, suspense, tension, drama... even murder.

Talullah Bankhead's character is unforgettable as a rich, spoiled reporter whose practical spirit is always ahead of problems... she is always chicly and stylishly helping everybody. My favorite quotes: "Dying together's even more personal than living together"; "In a word: Wow!" and the best one... "Darling, some of my best friends are in jail"

Finnaly, Fox is releasing this great film in a restored edition. Full of nice extras and in a beautiful package.

Hurray!!!!
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 25, 2007 4:19:57 PM PDT
A strong review, to be sure, but the list of characters includes a mighty big spoiler that deflates much of the narrative's power. Mr.Leite, be aware that true cinephiles should be a little more sensitive to other film-lovers, so that a warning should always be posted in a review, either right at the start, or just prior to the divulged news. Lifeboat, I'm afraid, won't be quite the same experience for me as it was for you, Mr.Leite.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2007 4:00:57 PM PST
Paulo Leite says:
Well... I have no idea what you are talking about.
Perhaps you are talking about the fact that the German they take onbord is the captain of the German U-boat?
Such discovery happens quite early in the movie.
In fact, the whole drama with all its further developments (the ones I did NOT and will NOT tell you about - because I do NOT want to spoil your fun) are only possible because of this. And there are plenty of that left for you to find out.

What surprises me is that you can think that such a master like Hitchcock does NOT have for you 10x more unexpected, fascinating twists that this one. Any film lover knows that, with Hitchcock, the German on the lifeboat is just the beginning (and not the end).

People usually confuse MYSTERY with SUSPENSE. The first one (mystery) goes like this: "...and at the end, surprise: the German WAS the captain". The second one goes like this: "OMG, the German IS the Captain... what happens next?? ...there's still 70 minutes to go! What happens next??" - that's suspense!

If you are looking for mystery, try Scooby-Doo, not Hitchcock!
But if you are looking for SUSPENSE, here it is. And I did not spoil any fun for you.

If you saw Vertigo, you'll remember that the "spoiler" is right there in the middle. Why? Because it is NOT a spoiler. It is just the very thing that will leave you thinking "OMG, so that's what IS happening... what will Scottie do next?"

Honestly, I think you are overeacting.

Posted on Sep 26, 2011 9:05:19 AM PDT
A lot of complaints during the making of this movie.Miss Bankhead wouldn't wear under pants

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2011 10:43:25 PM PDT
Paulo Leite says:
Some of my best friends don't use underpants, darling.

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 7:11:01 AM PST
Joe Hart says:
A great review. I'm going to buy the flick. I noticed you use infinitives like "to die" instead of "dying" (whatever whatever that's called). Never mind what the hexed Fellini lover said (whatever it was), your review didn't spoil anything for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 8:15:54 AM PDT
Are they looking for a friend?LOL

Posted on Jan 25, 2013 6:34:28 PM PST
Hotmuscleman says:
Fabulous review. Paulo,
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, REAR WINDOW and LIFEBOAT Are my favorite Hitchcock movies and I love most of them.Everyone in lifeboat is great in their roles.Plus fabulous point you made "is the german captain a prisoner of the group or is the group the prisoner of just one german!' ... probably actress Talullah Bankheads best movie! Not to be missed !!
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