You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bon Voyage

Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players.

Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players.

HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved.

Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere as part of a touring Hitchcock retrospective sponsored by Piper-Heidsieck champagne. It also has been picked up for specialized theatrical and vid release by Milestone Films, and should attract respectable numbers of film buffs, academics and Hitchcock completists.

Without the Hitchcock imprimatur, it’s debatable whether anyone (except, possibly, World War II historians) would think “Bon Voyage” worth all the bother. A briskly paced, heavily ironic drama about a downed RAF pilot who’s smuggled out of Nazi-occupied France, pic resembles nothing so much as an above-average episode of some TV anthology series of the 1950s. A series, perhaps, not unlike “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

English actor John Blythe is the only member of the cast identified by name either onscreen or in the few remaining production records. Other members of the cast are introduced collectively as members of the Moliere Players, a theatrical troupe formed by French actors resettled in England during the war. Reportedly, the players were eager to appear in any tribute to the French Resistance. But, fearing reprisals against friends and relatives still in Occupied France, they asked that their identities not be revealed.

Blythe plays John Dougall, an RAF officer who’s interrogated by the Free French in England after his escape from Occupied France. In subjective flashbacks, he recalls the heroic efforts of a fellow escapee, a Polish Army sergeant named Godowski, to guide him to contacts with various agents of the French underground.

Trouble is, the Polish officer really was actually a Gestapo agent who used Dougall to smoke out Resistance fighters. As soon as Dougall learns this, Hitchcock segues into a rerun of the RAF officer’s journey, this time from the viewpoint of the Gestapo agent. Events and dialogue that previously seemed innocuous turn out to have darker alternative meanings when re-examined in a new light.

It’s tempting to theorize that Hitchcock’s experiments with perspective here were a kind of warm-up exercise for “Vertigo” (1958), and that sort of speculation will no doubt be indulged in by Hitchcock scholars.

More likely, however, is that Hitchcock was motivated more by patriotism than by artistic experimentation on “Bon Voyage.” This was his contribution to the war effort — a propaganda short intended to encourage resistance in France and her colonies, not a work of art destined for the ages.

Like “Aventure Malgache,” the other Ministry of Information propaganda short directed by Hitchcock, “Bon Voyage” was filmed in French, for French audiences, and never intended for exhibition in England. Film historian Tom Milne is credited with the English subtitles for the film’s current, long-delayed release.

Tech credits, especially the first-rate black-and-white cinematography by former UFA cameraman Gunther Krampf, are above and beyond the call of duty.

Bon Voyage

(Dramatic short -- B&W -- French-British)

Production: A Milestone Films release of 1944 dramatic short produced by the British Ministry of Information. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay by J.O.C. Orton, based on an original idea by Arthur Calder-Marshall.

Crew: Camera (B&W), Gunther Krampf; art direction, Charles Gilbert. Reviewed March 5, 1993, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Running time: 26 min.

More Film

  • A Star Is Born Lady Gaga

    'A Star Is Born' CinemaCon Trailer Shows Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper Singing Live

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

  • Justice League Teaser Aquaman

    'Aquaman' Footage Debuts at CinemaCon; 'Wonder Woman 2' Details Revealed

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

  • avengers infinity war

    'Avengers: Infinity War' Is Atom Tickets' Biggest Pre-Seller Ever

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

  • 'No Greater Law' Review: Tribeca Film

    Tribeca Film Review: 'No Greater Law'

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

  • State Like Sleep

    Tribeca Film Review: 'State Like Sleep'

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

  • Kevin Feige

    Marvel's Kevin Feige Teases How 'Captain Marvel' Will Bring Back the '90s

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

  • Variety Names 10 Producers to Watch

    Variety Names 10 Producers to Watch for 2018

    Featuring: John Blythe and the Moliere Players. HOUSTON –“Bon Voyage,” one of two near-legendary shorts directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information during World War II, has resurfaced nearly a half-century after it was produced and quickly shelved. Recently unearthed by the British Film Institute, pic is currently having its U.S. premiere […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content