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DVD Shopping Bag: Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection Blu-ray

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DVD Shopping Bag: Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection Blu-ray

Pretty as a rainbow

By Robert T. Trate     November 06, 2012
Source: Mania.com

If there is one gift I could not live with out this holiday season, it would be the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection on Blu-ray. Count them. There are 15 of the Master of Suspense’s greatest films. Here in one perfect little box set is: Psycho, North by Northwest, Rope, Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, Shadow of a Doubt, Saboteur, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy, and Family Plot. The box set comes complete with a 56 page booklet that highlights Hitchcock’s cameos, storyboard, posters, and costume sketches. Everything and anything a true film aficionado needs. This is your best bet on upgrading your Hitchcock library, if ever there was one. Several of these films, like The Birds, have just become available for the first time on Blu-ray. Now, I’m not going to go into every little detail on this incredible box set. Here are just a few highlights on these masterful pieces of film. 

The Trouble with Harry:
Shirley MacLaine, in her Hollywood debut, sums up this transfer perfectly, “Pretty as a rainbow.” That is exactly what you will think of The Trouble with Harry on Blu-ray. It may have something to do with the Vista Vision process, but that beautiful fall day is ever present in 1080p. One could count each and every leaf during this dark comedy from Hitchcock. The real trouble with The Trouble with Harry is that it may be the master’s funniest film. Hitchcock introduces us to a dead body, Harry, then runs off to play with this colorful cast. Each of these characters gets something off Harry’s death. It ends on how it should have begun. However, if the end had happened at the beginning, we would have never known the trouble with Harry. This film also marks the first time Hitchcock would team up with Bernard Herrmann. It would become a pairing that rivals Steven Spielberg and John Williams. “The Trouble with Harry Isn’t Over” is retro documentary on the film and completely worth the 30 minutes.

North by Northwest:
Any true fan of Hitchcock will appreciate this Blu-ray transfer. With the use of many rear screen projections and matte paintings, older transfers tend to point them out. Here is the definitive edition where one watches the film as if they were in a theater circa 1959. The print is better than brand new and, outside of the dated scenery and styles, Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill lives again. I was originally worried that perhaps this film, with its brilliant colors and scenery, would look dated, as many of the early Bond films do. The 1080p transfer gives it almost a period piece look and, outside of opening stock footage in New York, you are transported back to that era. Bernard Herrmann’s score in TrueHD requires playing the “score only” track, as it cuts through the air with utter brilliance. 

There are two documentaries included that highlight not only the film, but Hitchcock, as well. “North by Northwest: One for the Ages” discusses the cultural significance and impact the film had on Hollywood. The second and more thought provoking documentary is “The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style”. Produced and directed by Gary Leva, it features costume designers, production designers, and directors such as Guillermo del Toro, Francis Lawrence, Martin Scorsese, and John Carpenter discussing the intricacies of Hitchcock’s work. Sadly, the documentary highlights only Warner Brother titles. However, if you are a fan of Hitchcock, you can clearly see that Leva’s breakdown applies to all of the master’s work. Scorsese, as always, is the front runner with the most to say. Yet, it is hearing filmmakers like del Toro discussing Hitchcock’s finer points that will enable new fans to connect with Hitchcock.  

Vertigo: 
This is a classic Hitchcockian story with its twists and turns. Vertigo is still years ahead of its time when it comes to Hitchcock’s use of the camera and special effects. There are numerous lighting cues and camera setups that not only shape the emotion of the movie, but take the audience inside the minds of Scottie and his damsel in distress. Stewart shines, as he always does, but it is in casting Stewart that really pushes the audience to believe and question all that Scottie is going through. This is far from a one man show and Kim Novak steals the film from Stewart as the delusional Madeleine. This may be the defining role in her career and the one all film aficionados remember her for.

You will also want to check out “Obsessed with Vertigo” on this Blu-ray. Restoration producers Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz go into painstaking details about all that went into preserving the film. It is when the two discover Hitchcock’s music cue notes and the original score recording that the restoration becomes complete. Included on the Blu-ray is their own commentary track revealing almost a moment by moment account of their work.

Rear Window:
Film aficionados should take note of John Fawell’s (author of Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film) commentary. Fawell is completely entertaining as he educates you about seeing another aspect to Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Throughout the film, he highlights not only the voyeuristic camera angles, synonymous with the film, but the mirror that Hitchcock holds up to Jeff, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and all those across the way. Fawell brought much of Hitchcock’s details and costume choices to light that, with all the intrigue going on, most would fail to notice. This does, of course, play into Hitchcock’s intention of making us, the audience, the lead characters. To sit back one seat further and watch the watcher is the best way to appreciate the genius of this film. If anything, it will give you a reason to watch Grace Kelly in 1080p all over again. 

Psycho:
Nothing seems to cut better in 1080p than Black and White Films (see The Day the Earth Stood Still review) and Psycho is no exception. This is a classic of which you know, I am sure. Check out the Stephen Rebello’s (author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”) commentary track. He allows us into the minds of both Hitchcock and the audience. For the film aficionado, much of what Rebello states about the film is common knowledge. Pointing out Hitchcock’s cameo and how taboo it was to see Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane in her bra and slip is really nothing new. At times, Rebello begins sounding as if he is reading from a term paper. Where he really brings something new to the annals of commentary tracks is his own personal experience with seeing the film for the first time in 1960. His description of the how the audience reacted to the unthinkable and how they faithfully kept the secrets of the film after they left are the keys to appreciating the movie. With each new generation that sees the film, all those little things that Hitchcock and screenwriter Joseph Stefano fought to keep in it seem less significant. Showing a toilet was a “no, no”, as was the use of the word “transvestite” back in 1960. This approach helps the viewer to remember the significance of the film and its mark on the culture.

Shadow of Doubt:
This was one of the few that I had never seen before. The biggest problem with watching Hitchcock’s big films such as North by Northwest or Psycho is that your brain runs in every direction. Smaller pictures like Shadow of Doubt have just as much suspense, but your mind runs wild with possibilities on a grander scale. He never intended future generations to watch his films in any kind of order. Only now, when we look back at his other works, we “Hitchcock” ourselves into seeing every possibility. The “MacGuffin” really could be anything, anyone, or anywhere. Shadow of Doubt had me all over the place and in a frenzy about the fate of Teresa Wright. 

With any box set, there are bound to be films you don’t care for. It is entirely your preference. I absolutely love North by Northwest, but found The Man Who Knew Too Much to be a trifle dull. The Birds is a classic packed full of suspense and horror. Marnie, on the other hand... Well, it was fun to see Sean Connery of that era play something other than James Bond. Regardless of how you or I feel about each of these films, this is the must-have box set of the season!


Top 5 Picks of the Week:

1. Planes Trains & Automobiles [Blu-ray]
2. 
They Live (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
3. 
Dark Star - Thermostellar Edition (Blu-ray)
4. 
The Muppet Christmas Carol 20th Anniversary Edition Amazon Exclusive [Blu-ray]
5. 
Rashomon (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS

360 Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz

360 [Blu-ray] Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz

Arizona Starring William Holden, Warren William and Jean Arthur

Assignment K Starring Michael Redgrave and Stephen Boyd

Bad Bush Starring Viva Bianca and Chris Sadrinna

Blue-Eyed Butcher Starring Justin Bruening

The Client [Blu-ray] Starring Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Anthony La Paglia

Dick Tracy - Complete Serial Collection Starring Ralph Byrd, Kay Hughes, Smiley Burnette and Lee Van Atta

Dick Tracy - 75th Anniversary Edition Original Serial Starring Ralph Byrd, Kay Hughes, Smiley Burnette and Lee Van Atta

Eleven Samurai Starring Junko Miyazono and Koji Nanbara

Fire With Fire [Blu-ray] Starring Bruce Willis and Josh Duhamel

Fire With Fire Starring Bruce Willis and Josh Duhamel

Gator Bait (1974) Starring Claudia Jennings, Sam Gilman and Douglas Dirkson

Gator Bait 2: Cajun Justice Starring Jan MacKenzie, Paul Muzzcat, Rocky Dugas and Susan Serigny

High Ground Starring Steve Baskis, Chad Butrick, Ashley Crandall

Incredibly Ever After [Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Louis Koo, Sandra Ng and Wen Zhang

Maximum Conviction Starring Steven Seagal, Steve Austin, Michael Pare and Bren Foster

Maximum Conviction [Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Steven Seagal, Steve Austin, Michael Pare and Bren Foster

Saints & Soldiers: Airborne Creed Starring Corbin Allred, David Nibley, Jasen Wade and Lincoln Hoppe

The Tall T Starring Randolph Scott and Richard Boone

ANIME

Digimon Adventure: Volume 1

Golden Boy: The Complete Collection Starring Mitsuo Iwata and Goro Naya

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere: Season 1 [Blu-ray] Starring Jun Fukuyama, Minori Chihara, Ai Matayoshi

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere: Season 1 Starring Jun Fukuyama, Minori Chihara, Ai Matayoshi

Locke The Superman Starring Keiichi Nanba and Keiko Han

Psychic Squad: Collection 4

Sengoku Basara: The Last Party (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring Robert McCollum and Johnny Yong Bosch

CARTOONS

Arthur Christmas (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Arthur Christmas (Two Discs: Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Arthur Christmas (Three Discs: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Kung Fu Panda Holiday

Kung Fu Panda Holiday (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland [Blu-ray] Starring Mickey Rooney, Rene Auborjonois, Gabriel Damon

Looney Tunes Super Stars: Porky & Friends

Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Dave Foley, Derek Richardson, Sarah Chalke and Rob Riggle

Red vs. Blue Season 10 Starring Elijah Wood, Burnie Burns, Jen Brown and Yomary Cruz

RVBX: Ten Years of Red vs. Blue Box Set [Blu-ray] Starring Elijah Wood, Burnie Burns, Jen Brown and Yomary Cruz

RVBX: Ten Years of Red Vs. Blue Box Set Starring Elijah Wood, Matt Hullum, Burnie Burns and Jen Brown

CLASSICS

A Christmas Carol (BLU-RAY) - 2012 Starring Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Jack Warner

Fighting Sullivans Starring Edward Ryan and Thomas Mitchell

Guys & Dolls [Blu-ray] Starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra

March of the Wooden Soldiers (3D/BD /DVD) [Blu-ray] Starring Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel

Sunset Boulevard [Blu-ray] Starring William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Eric Von Stroheim

Von Ryan's Express [Blu-ray] Starring Frank Sinatra

COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style

Planes Trains & Automobiles [Blu-ray] Starring Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins and Michael McKean

Criterion Collection

Rashomon (Criterion Collection) Starring Toshiro Mifune

Rashomon (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Starring Toshiro Mifune

HORROR

American Nightmare (Katarina's Nightmare Theater) Starring Michael Ironside, Lenore Zann, Page Fletcher

DeathShip (Remastered Widescreen Edition) Starring George Kennedy, Richard Crenna, Nick Mancuso

Dogman [HD DVD] Starring Larry Joe Campbell, Marian Mayberry, Kimberly Guerrero

Elvira's Movie Macabre: Mega Movie Marathon Starring Elvira

Masters of Terror Starring David Carradine, Josh Hartnett and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Outpost: Black Sun Starring Catherine Steadman, Richard Coyle and Julian Wadham

Outpost: Black Sun [Blu-ray] Starring Richard Coyle and Julian Wadham

The Pact Starring Casper Van Dien and Caity Lotz

The Pact [Blu-ray] Starring Casper Van Dien and Caity Lotz

Prophecy 5 Film Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Viggo Mortensen, Eric Stoltz, Vincent Spano

Puppet Master & Killjoy: Complete Collection Starring William Hickey, Paul Le Mat, Guy Rolfe and Collin Bernsen

Rec 3 Starring Diego Martin

MODERN CLASSICS on BLU-RAY

The Muppet Christmas Carol 20th Anniversary Edition Amazon Exclusive (Three-Disc Edition: BD/DVD + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] Starring Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmore and Frank Oz

Patton [Blu-ray] Starring George C. Scott

SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

The Amazing Spider-Man (Limited Edition Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD with Figurines) Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary

The Amazing Spider-Man (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary

The Amazing Spider-Man (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary

The Amazing Spider-Man (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary

Dark Star - Thermostellar Edition (Blu-ray) Starring Brian Narelle, Dre Pahich, Dan O'Bannon and Cal Kuniholm

They Live (Collector's Edition) Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster

They Live (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster

TV LAND

Aim High: The Complete First Season Starring Jackson Rathbone, Jonathan Avigdori and Johnny Pemberton

Bat Masterson Complete Season One

Bat Masterson Complete Season Two

Entourage: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Starring Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon

Entourage: The Complete Series Starring Adrian Grenier and Jeremy Piven

Law & Order: The Eleventh Year Starring Sam Waterston, Angie Harmon, Jerry Orbach

Young Riders Complete Season One

Young Riders Complete Season Three

Wolf Lake: The Complete Series Starring Paul Wesley, Lou Diamond Phillips, Graham Greene 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 1 of 1
1 
wrrlykam 11/6/2012 1:58:47 PM

BD for me.

Dark Star (but is any better than DVD edition? wouldn't be too difficult to improve DVD edition)

P,T and A (sounds like a fun purchase )

Rashomon

Hmm, picked 3 of Rob's top 5. Some weird is happening here.

1 

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