Almost four years ago (April 2012) Eureka / Masters of Cinema released a Region 2 Bluray of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Lifeboat (’44). I bought it, liked it as far as it went. It was a little worn and soft-focused at times; other portions looked great. Now there’s a domestic Bluray from Kino coming 3.7.17. Took ’em long enough.

There’s also a high-def Amazon streaming version that may or may not look good.

Set entirely on a 40-foot-long lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic, Lifeboat is the first of Hitchcock’s four confined-space films, the others being Rope (’48), Dial M for Murder (’54), and Rear Window (’54).

One of my favorite moments happens just as Tallulah Bankhead has offered a priceless diamond bracelet to be used as a lure to catch a fish with. “I can recommend the bait,” she says. “I should know, I bit on it myself”.

Passed along by Bill McCuddy, originally from a book by Jeffrey Lyons: “A few days into shooting the Lifeboat dp or assistant director comes to Hitchcock and says ‘Tallulah isn’t wearing any underwear.’ Hitchcock asks and she admits it, and Hitch says, ‘I don’t know whether to call hair or make-up.'”

The last two minutes are about a young German sailor, his ship torpedoed and sunk, pulling a gun on the boat’s inhabitants (Bankhead, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Hume Cronyn, etc.), and then, having been disarmed, asking “aren’t you going to kill me?” I’ve always loved the final line, spoken by Bankhead.

The writers were John Steinbeck, Jo Swerling, Ben Hecht, Alma Reville, MacKinlay Kantor and Patricia Collinge.