Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection |
Strangers on a Train Two-Disc Edition / North by Northwest / Dial M for Murder / Foreign Correspondent / Suspicion / The Wrong Man / Stage Fright / I Confess / Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Actors: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Richard Todd, Joel McCrea, Laraine Day
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genres: Classics, Mystery & Suspense
The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection contains the DVD debut of 8 Hitchcock classics including "Strangers on a Train Two-Disc Special Edition," and the following 7 new single-disc DVDs: "Dial M For Murder," "Foreign Co... more »
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Reviewed on 8/29/2008...
must have for suspense fans
"I have the perfect weapon right here"..........
K. Bodell | Nowheresville, Nowhere | 08/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How can a film lover resist buying this amazing collection. Alfred Hitchcock now has another marvelous collection featuring some of his great and less-well-known films:
*"STRANGERS ON A TRAIN" 2-Disc Special Edition: One of Hitch's most brilliant films in which a tennis-pro, Guy (Farley Granger), meets an insane fan, Bruno (Robert Walker), on a train who tries to convince him that they should "criss-cross" murders: Guy's free-spirited, pregnant wife whom he knows his baring someone else's child for Bruno's domineering father. The tension just builds from there.
1. Alternate 'preview' version of the film
2. Commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich, Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stephano, Strangers on a Train author Patricia Highsmith and biographer Andrew Wilson
3. New making-of documentary= "Strangers on a Train: A Hitchcock Classic", with Farley Granger, film historian Richard Schickel, Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell and other Hitchcock family members and colleagues recalling the making of this suspense landmark
4. Three intriguing featurettes:
...The Hitchcocks on Hitch
...Strangers on a Train: The Victim's P.O.V.
...Strangers on a Train by M. Night Shyamalan
5. Alfred Hitchcock's Historical Meeting, a vintage newsreel
6. Theatrical Trailers
*"SUSPICION": One of my favorite films, in which a beautiful and rich heiress (Joan Fontaine in an Oscar-winning role) marries playboy (Cary Grant) only to suspect that he is trying to kill her! Wait for the stunning climax!
1. New making-of documentary= "Before the Fact: Suspicious Hitchcock"
2. Theatrical Trailer
*"NORTH BY NORTHWEST": One Hitchcock's most famed films, in which a advertising exec (Cary Grant) is mistaken for an FBI spy and is followed by a cool blonde (Eva Marie Saint), a vicious villain (James Mason), and a low-flying cropduster all the way to Mount Rushmore! This is an amazing film and won Hitch's most enjoyable.
This DVD has all the old features on the original DVD with the addition of a music only track in Dolby stereo of Bernard Herrmann's classic score.
*"DIAL 'M' FOR MURDER": One of Hitchcock's best now on a long-awaited DVD. Set in England, a man named Tony (Ray Milland) decides to murder his wife (Grace Kelly) when he learns she is having an affair with a writer from America (Robert Cummings). He blackmails an old "friend" (Anthony Dawson) into murdering her, but when something goes wrong, he has to decide on a different plan. Look for the famous "Scissors" scene. This film was originally filmed in 3-D.
1. New documentaries:
...Hitchcock and Dial M
...3D: A Brief History
2. Newsreel footage from the movie's premiere event
3. Theatrical Trailer
*"MR. & MRS. SMITH": This is one of Hitchcock's only straight comedies. Ann and David Smith (Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery) are a feuding couple. When they find out their marriage isn't legal, Ann finds it as a way out while David wishes to stay with her. The comedy begins in this story of two problematic spouses.
1. New making-of documentary: "Mr. Hitchcock Meets the Smiths"
2. Theatrical Trailer
*"FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT": This Best Picture Oscar Nominee for 1940 is another classic. John Jones (Joel McCrea) is a American reporter who travels to Europe on what he think is the biggest story of the time. There, with the help of a girl named Carol (Laraine Day), he must track down a ring of spies!
1. New making-of documentary= "Personal History: Foreign Hitchcock"
2. Theatrical Trailer
*"THE WRONG MAN": This film is based on a true story featured in LIFE Magazine. The film is about Manny Balestrero (Henry Fonda) who is arrested for crimes committed by a look-alike robber. His wife, Rose (pre-"PSYCHO" Vera Miles), is distraught while Manny's anger is visible, but never spoken. Hitchcock also cast real-life Balestrero case witnesses in minor roles.
1. New making-of documentary= "Guilt Trip: Hitchcock and the Wrong Man"
2. Premiere newsreel
3. Theatrical Trailer
*"STAGE FRIGHT": A great cast gets together to give a interesting "performance". A dramatic student, Eve (Jane Wyman), tries to clear her friend (Richard Todd) of the murder of his lover's, the famous actress Charlott Inwood's (Marlene Dietrich), husband by getting a job as her personal maid to investigate. But as Eve investigates on her own, she finds herself in love with the real detective on the case (Micheal Wilding).
1. New making-of documentary= "Hitchcock and Stage Fright"
2. Theatrical Trailer
*"I CONFESS": Father Michael Logan (Montgomery Clift) is Catholic priest. During confession one day, the church caretaker, Otto (O.E. Hasse) admits to murdering a man. Soon the murder is known everywhere but the authorities believe Father Logan committed the crime! Since the Father cannot reveal what was said to him in confession he doesn't know what to do. His friends, Ruth (Anne Baxter) who was once his flame and Police Inspector Larrue (Karl Malden) try to help him but bring him deeper into trouble.
1. New making-of documentary= "Hitchcock's Confession: A Look at I Confess"
2. Premiere newsreel
3. Theatrical Trailer
This DVD set looks amazing! Warner Bros. has been really great with DVD releases this year. Look for three more Signature Collections from Warner Home Video in October: The John Wayne Signature Collection (Featuring the already released DVDs of "STAGECOACH", "THE SEARCHERS","RIO BRAVO", and "THE COWBOYS"), The Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy Signature Collection (With the already released DVDs of "ADAM'S RIB", "WOMAN OF THE YEAR", and "PAT AND MIKE" and the new DVD "THE SPENCER TRACY LEGACY: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn", a 1986 Documentary on Tracy's life and career as told by Hepburn), and the Elizabeth Taylor Signature Collection (Featuring the already released "CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF", "NATIONAL VELVET", "FATHER OF THE BRIDE", and "BUTTERFIELD 8").
Great collection of classics and minor gems from the master
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's rare that an artist can be both popular and one of the best at what he or she does. Alfred Hitchcock embodied both these elements. His films used suspenseful thrillers as a vehicle to try out inventive and often groundbreaking editing and camera techniques. While this collection from Warner Brothers doesn't include all his best films, there are enough here to justify picking up this generous and beautifully remastered collection of some of Hitch's best films.
"Suspicion" is the oldest of the nine films included in this boxed set. Cary Grant plays Johnny Aysgarth a womanizing gambler who flirts with the bookish Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine in her Oscar winning role). After he woos and marries her, Lina begins to suspect that Johnny may be trying to kill her for her money. Although RKO forced Hitchcock to change the ending from the one he wanted (I'll let you watch the short documentary on the film that's included to find out what occurred) and the film was seriously compromised by studio interference, it's still a worthwhile thriller that has Grant playing a cad at a point in his career when he was put into romantic leads. I'd be suspicious of anyone who said he loved me and still called me "monkey face".
"Foreign Correspondent" was made by Hitchcock while he was on loan from David O. Selznick's studio. Hitchcock relished the opportunity to work elsewhere as Selznick interfered too much with the making of the films he produced. Shot just as World War II was erupting in Europe dragging in other countries into the fray, the film stars Joel McCrea as reporter Johnny Jones (what's with all these Johnny's in Hitch's films?) discovers a conspiracy of fascists threatening to take over Europe. McCrea gives a energetic performance and, although he wasn't Hitch's first choice (Henry Fonda was his first choice but the production couldn't afford him), he more than lives up to the potential of the role.
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" features Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery in a screw-ball (!) comedy directed by the master of suspense. Hitch directed the film as a favor to Carole Lombard a very good friend at the time. While the script has some clever moments and Hitch's direction has a number of nice set pieces, it's one of Hitchcock's lesser works. It's still worth viewing.
"Strangers on a Train" is a flawed masterpiece from Hitch. Guy (Farley Granger) frustrated because his unfaithful wife won't give him a divorce so he can remarry, chats with Bruno (the marvelous Robert Walker in one of his best roles) a passenger he meets on the train back to Washington D.C. After a drink Guy spills the beans about his wife and Bruno offers to swap murders. In essence, their crime will be perfect because their complete strangers and have no other connection other than the meeting on the train. Guy believes Bruno is joking and plays along. When Guy's wife is brutally murdered (in a stunning sequence where we see the murder reflected in the woman's glasses), Bruno expects Guy to reciprocate. Otherwise, he threatens to pin the murder on Guy. The stunning conclusion on the merry-go-round ranks as one of Hitch's best. This edition includes both the final theatrical version and "preview" versions of the film which differ slightly.
"Dial M for Murder" caught Hitchcock recharging his batteries. Whenever he felt the need to creatively regenerate, he'd pick a subject that would interest him technically but that was already put together. It's ironic, though, that he should pick another main character who is a tennis player. "Dial M" plays as a inverted version of "Strangers". Based on Frederick Knott's Broadway hit play, "Dial M for Murder" was originally shot in 3-D (and it's a wonderful film to see in that format if for no other reason than to see what a great film director can do with the format with subtly and style) but only exhibited in that format in certain venues. Ray Milland (subbing for Cary Grant who had an argument with Hitchcock and withdrew from the film) plays a slick tennis player who devises the perfect murder. He blackmails an old college chum (the impressive Anthony Dawson) to fake a break in and murder his wealthy wife (Grace Kelly). It seems that Milland has discovered that she had an affair with an American mystery writer (Bob Cummings). The inspector (the droll John Williams) in the case recognizes that appearances can be deceiving when he investigates a murder.
Hitch believed "Stage Fright" to be one of his miscalculations because of a technical narrative trick he used to clue in viewers on the story. Richard Todd plays an actor being pursued for the murder of a lover's (Marlene Dietrich) husband. Eve Gill (Jane Wyman) believes her male friend is innocent and goes undercover to try and catch the real killer. It's a marvelous and underrated Hitchcock minor classic with a brilliant opening sequence and conclusion. The actors all give exceptional performances particularly Todd and Wyman. Playing with the artifice of the theater world, Hitch also plays with audience expectations.
"I Confess" had a troubled history during its production. Breen's censorship office (which used to censor films even at the scripting stage) objected to Hitch's story of a Priest (Montgomery Clift) who hears a murder confession and is torn about reporting it to the police. His vow prevents him from doing so but it also implicates him in the murder. Also featuring Anne Baxter and Karl Malden, "I Confess" isn't entirely successful but its daring theme, performances and two stunning set pieces make it a worthwhile movie.
With "The Wrong Man" Hitch finally got his wish to work with all American icon Henry Fonda. Hitch elected to try the approach used by the Italian Neo-realism movement (best represented by DeSica's "The Bicycle Thief") in telling the true story of a musician named Manny who is identified as a robbery and murder suspect. This case of mistaken identity, the opposite of Hitch's later experiment with "Psycho", took an unusual tact with a more realistic performance style and less stylized look. It's a minor Hitchcock classic with a strong performance by Vera Miles as Manny's wife who ends up having a nervous break down due to what occurs.
All the movies look exceptional. The older movies have some analog inherent analog flaws due to the age of the films but, on the whole, have never looked better. "Strangers on a Train" has been digitally remastered for this edition and features a sharper image with less grain problems. The blacks, grays and whites are solid and less murky looking than on the previous edition. "Dial M for Murder" suffers from haloing due to the 3-D process used to shoot the movie but the colors are vibrant and rich. "North by Northwest" looks terrific. It was previously released on DVD and this is the same transfer using a cleaned up restored version of the film. The restored mono sound on "Dial M" and the many other films included here sounds crisp with good presence.
Making up for some of their oversights in the past, Warner has spent a lot of money to spiff up these classic movies. Every single movie has a short documentary on the making of the film featuring directors Richard Franklin ("Psycho 2", "Roadgames", "Flatland") and Peter Bogdanovich ("Paper Moon", "The Last Picture Show", "What's Up Doc?") commenting on Hitch's films. Franklin's a good choice as he's demonstrated tremendous skill in his overlooked suspense films. Bogdanovich who enjoyed a friendship with Hitch and interviewed the master for his book on Hitchcock has tremendous insight. He also does a killer Hitchcock imitation. Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell a fine character actress who appeared in two of the nine films included here, provides an insider's perspective on the great director's work and his overlooked collaborator his wife Alma Reville Hitchcock. There's also a generous amount of behind-the-scenes photos included in many of the documentaries and clips from various films included in the set.
Both "North by Northwest" and "Strangers on a Train" come with commentary tracks. "North by Northwest" features the same commentary track by the late great Ernest Lehman as the previous edition. "Strangers on a Train" combines comments from Bogdanovich, "Psycho" screenwriter Jospeh Stefano and clips from Patricia Highsmith who wrote the novel the film is based on. It's a pity that more clips of Hitch from Bogdanovich's interviews and others over the years weren't assembled to give us a running commentary from the master himself but both Bogdanovich and Stefano give great insight as they knew the man and/or worked with him and also have the distance of collaborators.
A great set from Warner Brothers, "The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection" should be an essential purchase for any fan of Hitch's. There's only one glaring omission from this set and that's "Lifeboat" which Hitchcock directed for Fox. Unfortunately, Warner wasn't able to secure the rights to include that for this DVD set. Oh, and I forgot to mention that every single title here is in the plastic Amray cases that Warner has recently begun releasing movies in so they're more durable than the cardboard sleeves for the previous editions of "North by Northwest" and "Strangers on a Train". My only complaint is with the box itself; it isn't all that sturdy and could have more details about the films and the extras. I'd also like to have seen an additional disc featuring maybe Hitchcock's films he made for the War Office during WWII as an extras here (similar to the episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" that Universal packaged with their boxed sets). Still, one can't argue with the price as it works out to be roughly $10.00 for each movie. You'd pay nearly double that to buy them separately.
THE MASTER OF SUSPENSE IN AN ECLECTIC BOX SET
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 09/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alfred Hitchcock is unquestionably a master director of cinema. In Warner's new box set "Alfred Hitchcock: The Signature Series" film buffs will get to see why. This latest collection of Hitchcock classics is a revelation of sorts in that it allows audience to examine and judge the critical merit of a string of films that, for the most part, haven't been given a lot of play time. Many represent rarities and experimentations in the Hitchcock formula.
For some reason Hitchcock's first WWII thriller, "Foreign
Correspondent" (1940), never quite achieved the critical accolades orfame of say, "Notorious." It stars matinee idol, Joel McCrea as Johnny Jones, a New York reporter dispatched to Europe who inadvertently stumbles upon a troupe of fascists preparing to take over the world. Along the way, he encounters Carol Fisher (Laraine Day) whose father, Stephan (Herbert Marshall) may or may not be the lynch pin in all the espionage.
Next up is "Suspicion (1941). Following quickly on the heals of her success in "Rebecca" Joan Fontaine scored the coveted Best Actress Oscar for her role as Lina McLaidlaw, a bizarrely disturbed romantic wallflower. Lina's a repressed soul. But her traditional reservations are merely a façade for lusty home fires that seem to be sparked to satisfaction with her encounter of handsome playboy, Jonnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant). The two soon marry. However, as the romance progresses
Jonnie seems to be more than just an elegant rogue. Could it be? Is he a murderer?
"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (1941) is the most uncharacteristic film in
Hitchcock's canon and, indeed, this box set - a featherweight romantic comedy with shifting undercurrents; all about a feuding husband (David/Robert Montgomery) and wife (Ann/Carol Lombard) who, after living together for three years, suddenly discover that they're not legally married. When David hesitates in legitimizing their union Ann bolts for the nearest quick fix - a stoic romance with her business partner, Jeff Custer (Gene Raymond). In keeping with the formulaic conventions of classic screwball comedies, this one employs a series of hopelessly inept, though nevertheless hilarious, bits of complicated mischief in which David plots to win Ann back.
"Stage Fright" (1950) is a convoluted charmer. Rarely has Hitchcock's attention to comedy and suspense been more seamlessly blended than on this occasion. Jane Wyman stars as Eve Gill, a novice sleuth determined to solve a murderous who-dun-it in a theatrical setting. Together with her flighty father, Commodore Gill(Alastair Simms), a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the likes of Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich) the conspicuously aloof and greedy stage diva.
"Strangers on a Train" (1951) is often credited as beginning Hitchcock's second renaissance in Hollywood. It's a diabolical struggle of wills between the seemingly congenial tennis pro, Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and sycophantic admirer, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). When the two accidentally meet on a west bound train they exchange intriguing ideas on how to commit the perfect murder. Just one problem; Bruno takes the game seriously, murdering Guy's pregnant wife, Miriam (Kasey Rogers) in what is perhaps Hitchcock's most terrifying cinematic example of strangulation. This is decidedly a high water mark in Hitchcock's tenure, capped off by a visceral climax aboard a careening carousel.
It seems Hitch' had a yen for tennis players. In "Dial M for Murder" (1954) tennis pro, Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) plots the perfect murder of his wealthy wife, Margot (Grace Kelly) after he discovers she is having an affair with prominent writer, Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings). But things backfire when Margot accidentally kills her attacker with a pair of scissors, thus opening up Tony's chances at improvisation. Shot during the briefly trendy period of 3-D, Hitch' chose to eschew the usual (let's throw things at the screen) gimmicky approach and instead shot "Dial M for Murder" with a distinct foreground, middle ground, background perspective that really places
the audience in the center of the goings on. Only once, when Margot is being strangled by her attacker, does Hitch' succumb to the gimmick by having Margot reach behind her back (out into the audience) to grasp her lethal pair of shears; quite effective!
"The Wrong Man" (1956) is unique in its semi-documentary/film noir approach to a real life New York case. Henry Fonda is Manny Balestrero, a struggling musician wrongfully accused of robbery when he attempts to cash in his wife, Rose's (Vera Miles) insurance policy. The trail of accusations leads to a meticulous examination of police procedure in which the pressure of labeling the victim and hunting down the accused eventually culminate in desperation and a complete - if coerced - confession.
And finally we have the `wrong man' scenario to put all others to shame; "North by Northwest" (1959) is Hitchcock's slick and polished cross country adventure meets `the wrong man' scenario. When advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for an American CIA agent by the man he is supposed to be tailing, Mr. Van Damme (James Mason), Roger finds himself the victim of multiple attempted assassinations and a harried chase to unravel the mystery behind the insidious girl with whom he's suddenly fallen in love - Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).
The black and white elements for "Strangers on A Train" and "Mr. And Mrs. Smith are impressive to say the least, with pure whites, deep solid blacks and little in the way of age related artifacts. The remaining B&W films (I Confess, Foreign Correspondent, Stage Fright, The Wrong Man and Suspicion) have varying degrees of visual clarity and cleanliness. The short answer is that NONE of the films will disappoint. The longer response is that of the remaining aforementioned titles, there is considerable disparity in both age related and digital artifacts. There's a somewhat obtrusive shimmering effect to darker scenes in "I Confess", some serious film grain in "Stage Fright" and varying degrees of tonality and rendering of fine details in the gray scale of "Suspicion". The contrast levels on "The Wrong Man" seem a tad low too. As for the remaining two color films in this box set, "Dial M for Murder" and "North By Northwest"...only the latter will amaze you. The former, although a considerable improvement on previously released versions, continues to suffer from grainy, haze and slightly out of focus image quality - which is in keeping with the shortcomings of 3-D photography, NOT the transfer itself. Finally, succinct featurettes accompany every film in this box set - with rare footage and interviews from surviving cast members.
BOTTOM LINE: An absolute must!