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Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  Downhill
 
Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Downhill
(1927)
 

Following the success of his third feature film, The Lodger (1926), director Alfred Hitchcock and actor Ivor Novello reteamed for this society drama of honor and sacrifice in the face of greed and deception.

Golden boy Roddy Berwick (Novello), star of his private school’s rugby team and captain of his graduating class, is accused of fathering a shopowner’s daughter’s baby in the place of the actual culprit, his classmate Tim (Robin Irvine). Rather than defend himself or jeopardize the scholarship of his needy friend, Roddy accepts expulsion from school to the horror of his class-conscious father. Quick to condemn his own son for seemingly indecorous and socially-dangerous choices, Roddy’s father disowns him. To make ends meet, Roddy takes a job as a stage extra in a revue. There he is drawn into the circle of a shallow and money-mad pair of actors (Isabel Jeans and Ian Hunter).

After being married to the golddigging actress, who quickly manages to spend a £30,000 inheritance, Roddy becomes a taxi dancer at the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris. Soon, he is starving in derelict rooms inhabited by ne’er-do-wells that nevertheless care enough to put him on a ship travelling back to England. Delirious, Roddy is haunted by visions of his unforgiving father and by those in his life that have abused him and taken him for what little he has had. Back in London, Roddy stumbles home to discover he has been forgiven by his father.

Unintentionally comic in the film is the pansy struggle between Roddy and his rival Archie, and the bizarre sight of a white actress portraying a French mammy in blackface in a film produced as late as 1927.

Not a directorial dazzler like The Lodger, Downhill is of consistent quality when compared to his other films of the 1920s, with a few flashy moments of directorial dare. — Carl Bennett

2005 Universal Pictures Video (France) DVD edition

Le chant du Danube [Waltzes from Vienna] (1934), black & white, 78 minutes, not rated,
with Downhill (1927), black & white, 82 minutes, not rated.

Universal Pictures Video (France), 824 771-5, UPC 5-050582-477153.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, two single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, French language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, €9,99.
DVD release date: 1 March 2007.
Country of origin: France

This Region 2 PAL edition has been transferred from 35mm print materials.

The film is accompanied by a music score by Christophe Henrotte.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
France: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.fr. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2008 Network DVD edition

Hitchcock: The British Years (1925-1939), black & white and color-toned black & white, 810 minutes total, Certificate PG,
including Downhill (1927), black & white, ? minutes, Certificate ?.

Network, unknown catalogue number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, ten single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, ten slimline DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, £59.99.
DVD release date: 25 February 2008.
Country of origin: England
This Hitchcock boxset contains the Network DVD edition of Downhill.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2002 Japan Home Video DVD edition

Downhill (1927), black & white, 82 minutes, not rated.

Japan Home Video, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 2, 5.5 Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, optional Japanese language subtitles, 16 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, ¥20,000?
DVD release date: 25 July 2002.
Country of origin: Japan

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 7 / additional content: 5 / overall: 7.
This Japanese edition of Alfred Hitchcock’s fourth feature film has been mastered from a 35mm source print, which features a broad range of graytones and very-good image detail. The reel beginning at 40:09 is rougher than the rest of the print, with some missing footage at the head of the reel, and some sections with processing issues that create grayish blacks and chemical spotting on the print. It’s all cleared up in a couple of minutes, when seen, so the overall viewing experience is very good.

The film is accompanied a predominately up-tempo stereo jazz score by a small combo, which makes for something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde experience. The second audio tracks encoded into the disc are empty.

The disc inlcudes an overview of Hitchcock’s British cinematic career (in English, with Japanese subtitles).

For those with region-free DVD players, this disc is a good option for its visual quality to collect this hard-to-find Hitchcock silent, if you can ignore the stylistically inappropriate music.
2008 unidentified Dutch DVD edition

Downhill (1927), black & white, 82 minutes, not rated.

Unknown Dutch edition, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, no sound, English language intertitles, optional Dutch language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, £14.99
DVD release date: 2008.
Country of origin: Netherlands
This unknown Dutch edition was apparently released without an accompanying soundtrack.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
200? unidentified Dutch DVD edition

The Classic Hitchcock Collection (1926-1979), black & white, 920 minutes total, Certificate 12,
including Downhill (1927), black & white, ? minutes, Certificate 12.

Unknown home video company, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, ten single-sided, single-layered DVD discs, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, optional Dutch language subtitles, chapter stops, ten slimline DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, unknown suggested retail price.
DVD release date: 200?.
Country of origin: Netherlands
This Dutch boxset includes Downhill, and leaves us wondering whether quality print materials were utilized for the video transfer. We do not know whether this boxset includes the Dutch edition noted just above.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Other silent era ALFRED HITCHCOCK films available on home video.

Other BRITISH FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Alfred Hitchcock filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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