Newly remastered titles look and sound extremely good with o
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are both pros and cons to this remastered/rereleased Hitchcock boxed set. The pros are that all have been remastered (all of them were anamorphic despite what other reviews have stated except for the first edition of "Vertigo" on DVD--read the boxes of the original releases or better yet watch them)and the remastering job has resulted in colors being bolder in many cases (Do a comparison as I did)with images being crisper and with slightly better resolution. There is an exception to this--"The Man Who Knew Too Much" actually looks worse than the previous release. While colors are good the image clarity and detail are off. I'm not exactly sure what happened here but it must have been during the Telecine transfer process from film to video (and then DVD). This is based on a head-to-head comparison with the other edition of the film and isn't based on a bad DVD. Instead, it's related to the transfer not being quite as good for this new updated version. So if "Man" is one of your favorites I'd advise you to keep the previous DVD. Also, there's no paper inserts with chapter stops listed as on previous editions. Also, a couple of films didn't have a huge difference but they were still noticeable for the most part.
The DVDs are housed four to a DVD "book" with two on each side one on top of the other. I know what you're thinking--they'll get scratched--but I didn't notice any potential for that. Still, you'll need to be careful taking them out and putting them in and these holders are not as secure as the individual keep cases. Each cover is decorated with images from the original posters for each movie overlapping each other.
Extras are exactly the same as the original releases for each disc. "The Making of Psycho" and "All About 'The Birds'" which were on the original discs themselves have been relocated to the bonus discs. There's also three new bonuses included. The first is a 15 minute excerpt from the AFI tribute focusing primarily on Hitch's droll comments when he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award. I've long wanted to have this on DVD but do wish that Universal had licensed the entire AFI tribute as it was a charming and worthwhile evening. The second extra is a 30 minute interview featuring Pia Lindstrom and William K. Everson and is a vintage videotape interview with Hitchcock from the 70's. It's quite a revealing interview with Hitchcock charming the hosts as usual. He discusses quite frankly his likes (pre-production) and dislikes (method actors like Montgomery Clift). The third bonus is a 36 page booklet that, like the booklet that came with "Jaws", is hardly essential. It does include credits for each movie, some photos and brief comments about each film. It'll be something you might look at once or twice.
The box itself has a crushed velvet exterior and is quite attractive. The cover has a door that slides into the box to access the movies. So the pros are better transfers for most of the films. If you don't have all of Hitch's movies on DVD yet, this is a great deal. The new extras aren't worth the price of admission if you don't already have all of these and while they look better, the difference may not be all that striking to you. With the release of Hitch's TV show and other new stuff coming out, it's a matter of spending where one can.
I gave this set 4 stars for two reasons; 1) There are a number of so-so Hitchcock films in this set ("Torn Curtain", "Topaz", "Marnie" which is one that, despite Robin Wood's absurd arguments to the contrary, I find to be substandard Hitchcock and the enjoyable but light "Family Plot"). 2)"The Man Who Knew Too Much" should look BETTER than the previous edition but, in fact, looks a bit worse for the wear with less clarity and definition. 3)While we do some some new extras they are slim pickings. I would have loved to get more commentary tracks on these classic films from Hilton Green (Assistant Director on "Psycho" and a number of Hitch's TV episodes), Bruce Dern or Karen Black (on "Family Plot") and others on the important films.
Some of Hitch's finest films are here "Vertigo", "Rear Window", "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "The Trouble With Harry" (an acquired taste), "Psycho", "Shadow of a Doubt", "Sabotage", "Frenzy", etc but also some of his weaker thrillers as well. It's a good concise and inexpensive way to get them all."
The REAL lowdown on this box set
DJD | The East Coast, USA | 10/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"O.K., I have the box set in my hands, and although I have not watched every movie I have scanned them all in order to write the review. I am not reviewing the movies themselves, just trying to clear up some of the confusion that seems to be surrounding this release.
First, the technical info is as follows:
The Birds, Marnie, The Trouble with Harry, Topaz, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Torn Curtain, Frenzy, and Family Plot are all Dolby 2.0, 1.85 Widescreen, Color.
Vertigo is Dolby 5.1, 1.85 Widescreen, Color
Rope, Shadow of a Doubt and The Bonus Disc are Dolby 2.0, 1.33 Full Frame, Color.
Rear Window is Dolby 2.0, 1.66 Widescreen, Color.
Psycho is Dolby 2.0, 1.85 Widescreen, B&W.
Saboteur is Dolby 2.0, 1.33 Full Frame, B&W
I actually thought the velvet box was rather nice, and I didn't mind the four discs to a sleeve. The booklet is very nice, printed with lots of color on heavy stock and includes trivia and facts on each movie.
I read a review that said one of the films didn't look as good as the others, so when I scanned them I tried to pay particular attention to the picture quality. I found all of the movies to be crisp and clean, so I would suggest maybe there was a bad disc in his box set (?).
My only negative is that only Vertigo is remastered in Dolby 5.1. I just don't understand digitally remastering the films and not the soundtrack.
However, the amount of brilliant filmmaking included in this collection is almost overwhelming. Every film is a treasure, and it's filmmaking that has rarely been equaled, let alone surpassed.
Look, everyone is always going to have something to complain about (didn't like the package, the sleeves, hasn't done justice to the master), even myself with the soundtrack issue, but Universal has put together a 15 disc package of great films for $84.00. What's that...$5.60 a disc?
If you are on the fence on this one, just click "add to cart" and go to checkout. This is the deal of a lifetime."
Wonderful box set!
J. A. Stankunas | Jupiter, FL United States | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am happy to say that, in spite of many scathing reviews of this box set, this collection of Alfred Hitchcock films is excellent in every way. I love the velvet box the disks are kept in and the cases (three or four DVDs to a case) are attractive (with poster art adorning the covers) and compact, keeping this set from being huge as it could have been, and I appreciate that. Although some people have complained of the picture and audio quality of the disks in comparison to the previous editions, I have to say that they are the same as before, not worse, and that is fine by me. The difference that I can see is that those films that were not previously anamorphic widescreen are now and that is reason to celebrate. Also the set is a deal, 15 disks for $90 is about $6 a disk and you can't beat that. Included in the set is Hitchcock's personal favorite Shadow of a Doubt, the interesting "one shot" experiment Rope, the classic Rear Window and delicious black comedy The Trouble with Harry, the masterpieces Vertigo and Psycho, the chilling The Birds and Frenzy, to the underrated Marnie and Torn Curtain, his final film Family Plot and much more!!"
Masterpiece Collection is indeed a masterpiece
L. French | San Francisco CA | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For anybody who has not brought these films at the individual list price of $29.95, then this box set has to be considered (at under $6.00 a film) the deal (or steal) of the century.
The problem is that probably every Hitchcock fan has already purchased all or most of these films - as I did, at those advanced prices, and doesn't want to lay out any more cash. But anyone living in a major city should easily be able to get at least $6.00 a disc for their old Hitchcock DVD's at any used DVD store, and in the process they would actually be saving money and be getting a beautifully packaged box set in the process, along with a nice booklet, and the bonus of an extra disc.
Unfortunately, the extra disc, only includes (to Universal's disgrace) a mere 15 minute excerpt from the AFI life acheivement award to Hitchcock - that includes comments from Ingrid Bergman and Jimmy Stewart, as well as Hitchcock's complete acceptance speech. But missing are all the other speakers, like Janet Leigh, Francois Truffaut, John Forsythe, Anthony Perkins, etc.
This is my biggest complaint, because the entire 105 minute program was easily one of the best AFI shows ever produced. So why couldn't they include the entire program on the bonus disc?
However, that aside, the bonus disc is offset by the incredible interview segements with Mr. Hitchcock, which only runs about 33 minutes, but includes comments from the master that have never been heard before. For a director like Hitchcock, who had been endlessly interviewed, I expected this to be a repeat of comments Hitchcock had made many times elsewhere. But guess what? These 33 minutes of interview are almost entirely new material! Most of Hitchcock's comments are entirely fresh, and not in the Truffaut interview book, or anywhere else, for that matter, making them very valuable indeed.
Kudos go the two interviewers, Pia Lindstrom (Ingrid Bergman's daughter) and the esteemed film collector William K. Everson for not following the same old paths and asking Hitch the kinds of questions (as Richard Schickel did in his documentary on Hitchcock for the PBS series, "The Men who Made the Movies" which basically repeated everything about Hitchcock that everyone was already familiar with who had read the Truffaut/Hitchcock book).