1934, Park Circus, 75 min, UK, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Director Alfred Hitchcock’s first version of the thriller about a family of tourists drawn into international intrigue was one of the greatest successes of his pre-Hollywood career. Vacationing British couple Leslie Banks and Edna Best stumble onto an assassination plot; to ensure their cooperation, head killer Peter Lorre kidnaps their daughter. With a more charismatic villain and a climactic shootout (inspired by a real-life incident), this economical thriller is more sinister than Hitchcock’s 1956 remake.

1946, Warner Bros., 92 min, USA, Dir: Jean Negulesco

The verities of fate are explored in this fantastic tale of three strangers (Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Geraldine Fitzgerald) whose fates entwine with a mysterious Chinese idol and a winning lottery ticket. Deeply cynical, gloriously atmospheric. Screenplay by John Huston and Howard Koch. Directed by Jean Negulesco. NOT ON DVD

1945, Universal, 81 min, USA, Dir: Roy William Neil

In this spellbinding adaptation of Woolrich’s thriller, noir favorite Dan Duryea gives a terrific performance as a pickled pianist whose estranged wife is murdered. When her husband is charged with the crime, nightclub canary June Vincent enlists drunken Dan’s help in a search for the real culprit. Broderick Crawford and Peter Lorre add muscle and menace to the typically warped Woolrich atmosphere, well rendered by director Roy William Neil.

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