Lost World War II Classics of Espionage, Suspense and Murder! At the peak of his career, Alfred Hitchcock diverged from his usual formula to make two French language adventure movies designed as World War II propaganda films. Made in 1944, Aventure Malgache (Madagascan Adventure) and Bon Voyage remained virtually unseen until a 50th anniversary re-release and subsequent video distribution. These two short films may well be the most challenging films to assess in the entire Hitchcock filmography, for their overt goal of propaganda establishes a set of expectations alien to Hitchcock's suspense films, thus creating conflicts for the filmmaker and the critics alike.
In the mid-1940s, the British Ministry of Information decided to produce a pair of war propaganda dramas to help raise the spirits of people in Occupied France, Hitchcock was the first choice to direct the dramas. Hitchcock considered such work to be his patriotic duty. The plan was for Hitchcock to direct refugee French actors in the two half-hour French language mini-movies designed to be shown in secret locations in Nazi-held France. The whole project was so secret that we still do not know for sure whether any screenings ever took place.
Despite working under extremely rushed circumstances and low budgets, these short films clearly bear Hitchcock's trademark visual style, with oppressive, deep shadows emphasizing a sense of fear and paranoia. However, these two films do not create clear-cut, good-guy-versus-bad-guy situations, but instead present a wartime environment where trust is replaced by terror, cynicism and jealousies, very provocative stylistically, but completely wrong for typical us-against-them propaganda purposes. If anything they seem to dwell on the roots of the French collaboration with the Nazis. The British Ministry of Information was very displeased with the results and locked them away in vaults as "restricted" material.
The two films were certainly never widely distributed until half a century later, when the British government finally released them from its vaults. It seems that the British government killed these films and wanted to keep them from ever reaching theater audiences. But finally, an 1993, Aventure Malgache and Bon Voyage reached art house screens made possible by the British Film Institute (bfi). Then they were televised for the first time ever, an 1995, on the STARZ cable network. We proudly possess an excellent SP mode VHS NTSC of these rare classics. Bon Voyage. England. 1944. B&W. French w/English subtitles. 26 minutes. Aventure Malgache. England. 1944. B&W. French w/English subtitles. 31 minutes. Out of Print. These two Hitchcock rare classics are sold collector to collector. The Seller owns no rights to these movies and no rights are given nor implied. DVD $19.99. US shipping $1 first class. International us$3.