It pains me to say it, but there are precious few thrills to be had in “Classic British Thrillers,” a package that plants three movies on one DVD. In fact, one wonders if they qualify as “classic.” Just because something’s old doesn’t make it good.
Thanks to “The Red Shoes” and the controversial “Peeping Tom,” the late Michael Powell enjoys a reputation as an exemplary filmmaker, but his directorial talent is not evident in 1934’s corporate-sabotage drama “Red Ensign” or 1935’s mystery “The Phantom Light,” which comprise two-thirds of this collection.
Ironically, best is the one Powell didn’t touch: 1947’s “The Upturned Glass,” directed by no-namer Lawrence Huntington. In it, a med-school professor relates to his class how he used his skills as a surgeon to play sleuth when a woman he was cuckolding is murdered. It’s the typically mannered, early-career performance by James Mason as the protagonist that makes it sail above an otherwise rote story.
One of out three ain’t bad for the price, I guess, but “Classic British Thrillers” is better viewed as a historical document than fodder for a night of chills. The disc has no extras, unless you count having triple the titles than usual.