Sep 122020
 

The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection is a nice selection of four Alfred Hitchcock films to get the 4K treatment, which is pretty good for what I’m Universal had the rights to.

 

 

The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection
— Rear Window / Vertigo / Psycho / The Birds —
(1954-63)

Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Drama, Crime
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment | NR – 473 min. – $69.98 | September 8, 2020

Date Published: 09/12/2020 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer(s): Cornell Woolrich (short story); John Michael Hayes (screenplay) (Rear Window); Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (novel ‘D’Entre Les Morts”); Alec Coppel & Samuel Taylor (screenplay) (Vertigo); Robert Bloch (novel); Joseph Stefano (screenplay) (Psycho); Daphne Du Maurier (story), Evan Hunter (screenplay) (The Birds)
Cast: James Stewart, Anthony Perkins, Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Tippi Hedren, Raymond Burr, Veronica Cartwright


DISC INFO:
Features: Commentaries, Featurettes, Interviews, Galleries, Trailers
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 8


Audio: (4K) Rear Window: English (DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono), Spanish (DTS 2.0 Mono), French (DTS 2.0 Mono); Vertigo: English (DTS:X), Spanish (DTS 2.0 Mono), French (DTS 2.0 Mono); Psycho: English (DTS:X), Spanish (DTS 2.0 Mono), French (DTS 2.0 Mono); The Birds: English (DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono), Spanish (DTS 2.0 Mono), French (DTS 2.0 Mono), Portuguese (DTS 2.0 Mono), Japanese (DTS 2.0 Mono)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 1.66/1.85
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C


Universal Studios Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.

** All ratings are averages. **

THE MOVIES — 4.0/5


Rear Window (1954) — This is easily my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, not his best (that goes to North by Nortwest and maybe Psycho), but the one movie I can consistently re-watch and have seen numerous times over the years. It’s a tribute to Hitchcock that the film entirely takes place in one room and most of the action, save for the finale, is viewed via binoculars. The performance from James Stewart and Grace Kelly were fantastic and there is a modern day aspect that we’ve replaced binoculars seeing into people’s lives, and instead doing so via social media. A lot of fun and highly entertaining still to this day. ****½/*****


Vertigo (1958) — I’ve probably only seen the movie a couple times over the years, and while Vertigo never was a favorite of mine, still found it mildly entertaining with a fairly intense second half, thanks to a great, and different, performance by James Stewart as well as Kim Novak. ***¾/*****


Psycho (1960) — Amazingly this was my first time seeing what is considered Hitchcock’s most iconic film, and one that has landed on numerous best-of lists over the years, and even though I pretty much knew the entire plot before hand, still found it to be suspense-filled with a charismatic yet still creepy performance by Anthony Perkins. ****¾/*****


The Birds (1963) — And finally, another first for me. As with Psycho I had watched many scenes that have replayed on various lists and afterward, while it was entertaining as a B-movie horror flick, or monster flick as some describe, some of it had some unintentionally funny moments that was at least neutralized by some great imagery, particularly at the end with all the birds gathered around the farmhouse. The acting here was pretty good by Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren. ***¼/*****

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.25/5


This 8-disc release (4 4Ks, 4 BDs) is housed in a digibook and side-slides in an embossed slip case. Inside is a single code for all four films. The discs are contained in slots which I personally hate and not sure why studios do this instead of just having a 10-disc HD keep case. I’m not overly concerned with the discs getting scratched or scuffed, but you will get fingerprints on them just to get them out, so you will need to clean them off… This is a similar set-up the Universal’s “Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Collection”.


REAR WINDOW — ****¼/*****

  • Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary (55:10) examines the morals behind looking into the lives of others. Includes interviews by filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich and Curtis Hanson amongst others.
  • A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes (13:10) — From 2001, Hayes discusses the origins behind the script and his first meeting with Hitchcock.
  • Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master (25:12) — Featurette from 2008 about Hitchcock from masters in their own rights that included Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin and John Carpenter as well as experts on the filmmaker.
  • Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock (23:31) is on the importance of sound design in his films.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut (16:14) is a series of audio recordings with filmmaker Francois Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock for his book.
  • Masters of Cinema (33:39) was a line of DVDs apparently, this one is an interview with Hitchcock.
  • Feature Commentary — John Fowell, Author of “Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film”
  • Production Photographs (3:09) with promotional images and production stills.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:40)
  • Re-release Trailer (6:14) – Narrated by James Stewart

VERTIGO — ****¼/*****

  • Obsessed with Vertigo: New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece (29:18) — Documentary produced in 1997 by American Movie Classics (AMC) looking at the restoration of the film.
  • Partners in Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborators (54:49) includes Saul Bass, Edith Head, Bernard Hermann and Alma.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut (16:14) is a series of audio recordings with filmmaker Francois Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock for his book.
  • Foreign Censorship Ending (2:08) — Extended ending made to satisfy the censorship board (I guess leaving it open to a murderer getting away with it).
  • The Vertigo Archives (1:08:54) featuring production designs, rough sketches, etc.
  • Feature Commentary — Filmmaker William Friedkin
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:29)
  • Restoration Theatrical Trailer (1:23)
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era (8:50) — Profile on the Universal executive.

PSYCHO — ****½/*****

  • The Making of Psycho (1:34:13) is an immersive, 24 part, documentary featuring interviews from those involved and film historians analyzing every aspect of the film from casting, production stories, themes, breaking down the shower scene and much more.
  • Psycho Sound (9:58) looks at converting the mono sound mix to surround sound.
  • In the Master’s Shadows: Hitchcock’s Legacy (25:59) as told by some of the great filmmakers today including Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, Guillermo del Toro and others on Hitchcock’s influence on cinema.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut (16:14) is a series of audio recordings with filmmaker Francois Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock for his book.
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho (7:46)
  • The Shower Scene: With and Without Music (2:32) showing how much the score aids the iconic scene.
  • The Shower Sequence: Storyboards by Saul Bass (4:10)
  • Promotional Materials:
    • The Psycho Archives (7:48)
    • Posters and Psycho Ads (3:00)
    • Lobby Cards (1:30)
    • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs (8:00)
    • Production Photographs (8:30)
    • Psycho Theatrical Trailers (6:31)
    • Psycho Re-Release Trailer (1:52)
  • Feature Commentary — Stephen Rebello, Author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.

THE BIRDS — ****/*****

  • The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie (14:12) is a featurette on the uniqueness of the movie and its effect on Hollywood (i.e. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws).
  • All About The Birds (1:19:49) — Old, from 2000, but lengthy making-of featurette includes archive interviews with Alfred Hitchcock and ones made for this including Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor.
  • Storyboard Sequence (24:21) outlining one of the key scenes, when Tippi Hedren’s character gets attacked.
  • Tippi Hedren’s Screen Test (9:57)is a cool thing to check out, like these screen tests which don’t always get included.
  • Deleted Scene (4:20) is a combination of script pages and production pics.
  • The Original Ending (3:40) is an alternate ending that was never shot, so presented here via script and sketches.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut (16:14) is a series of audio recordings with filmmaker Francois Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock for his book.
  • Universal International Newsreels
    • The Birds is Coming (1:17)
    • Suspense Story: National Press Covers Hitchcock (1:54)
  • Production Photographs (14:10)
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics (9:13) is another entry in the series celebrating the legendary studio, this one focusing on restoring and preserving some of their classics from Jaws, The Sting and The Birds.
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot (9:25) is a tour of the studio’s back lot.
  • Theatrical Trailer (5:11)

 

VIDEO – 4.5/5


Each film in this collection are presented in their original aspect ratios and given 2160p high-definition transfers. The movies here look fantastic.

Rear Window is just short of perfection with incredible detail and well balanced colors, on the downside, there were some ever-so minor specs that I noticed upon closer inspection. ****¾/*****


Vertigo looks rather good in its own right, perhaps not as sharp during the city sequences but still respectable, the biggest advantage is a fine color boost most notably through the nightmare sequence and its psychedelic color schemes. ****½/*****


Psycho is show in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and, no surprise, does look incredible. Detail is incredible sharp and well defined throughout, the natural film grain has been left intact and generally this is a clean picture, with only slight scratches in an otherwise perfect transfer. *****/*****


And lastly, The Birds probably is the least of the four in terms of the picture, yet still looks good. The colors are nice without being overly vibrant and detail is more than adequate, although looking at it closely, think I detected some edge enhancements but can’t be 100% certain. ****¼/*****

AUDIO – 4.5/5


No complaints about the audio tracks for any of the films.

Rear Window comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which actually shows off some nice depth as the film pans from window to window in the apartment complex. ****¼/*****


Vertigo gets an upgrade of a DTS:X track over the previous DTS-HD MA 5.1, this one sounds quite good, showing off clear dialogue and some modest depth for the suspense-filled scenes as well as the great Bernard Hermann score. ****½/*****


Psycho also received a DTS:X track and as demonstrated by the included featurette, some elements were expanded from a mono track such as cars driving from right to left but keeping the original soundtrack intact. ****¾/*****


Last up The Birds has a DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo Mono track which I’m thinking is the same from the previous 2012 Blu-ray that was included. In any case, the audio here offers clear dialogue along with some great outputting of the horrific sounds of the birds both attacking and idling about. ****½/*****

 

OVERALL – 4.5/5


The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection is a nice selection of four Alfred Hitchcock films to get the 4K treatment, which is pretty good for what I’m Universal had the rights to (as North by Northwest is owned by Warner I believe). There may be no new bonus features, but the audio and video transfers for all the films are top notch, just not entirely sure if it’s worth the upgrade if you own these already.

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