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The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K UHD Review

“The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection” is essential.

When it comes to directors, few are better than Alfred Hitchcock. Not only was he “The Master Of Suspense,” but he quite simply made some of the best films in cinema history. 4 such classics have been included in Universal’s “The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection” 4K set- “Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “Psycho,” and “The Birds.”

1954’s “Rear Window” was already one of the cinema greats going into 2020, but now you can see the film in a whole different light in these times of being quarantined. The story, for those that may not know, involves a wheelchair bound photographer recouping from a broken leg. While bored at home, he begins to snoop on his neighbors instead of seeing what’s right in front of him in his own life. During his spying sessions, he suspects a man in a neighboring building of murder. Is he letting his imagination get the best of him or is there really foul play?

Hitchcock’s direction is nothing short of stunning here as he creates a cinematic voyeuristic fantasy unlike any other. Simultaneously, he also crafted a first rate thriller that grows more and more intense as the John Michael Hayes scripted story unfolds. Also, you get to watch James Stewart and Grace Kelly at their finest. What’s not to like?

Stewart and Hitchcock reteamed again in ”Vertigo” which is often cited as the greatest film ever made alongside “Citizen Kane.” While I wouldn’t go that far, there’s no denying it is a sophisticated classic. The story revolves around a former detective (John AKA Scottie) who becomes obsessed with 2 women in this psychological mystery.

What makes “Vertigo” such a rich viewing experience is that it is such a layered story (which was scripted by Alec Coppel and Samuel L. Taylor). It’s a story about love, obsession, desire, fears and the past and they all intertwine in unique and unexpected ways. Hitchcock himself shows such a dynamic range with this film as it isn’t just another suspenseful thriller, but rather a deep psychological character study. Once again, the film is boasted by another landmark performance by Jimmy Stewart, but it’s Kim Novak who also shines here playing 2 characters. 

“Psycho” is arguably the greatest horror film ever made and it also happens to be my personal favorite Hitchcock film. I don’t think I need to describe the plot of this movie because, well, if you don’t know what’s going on at Bates Motel, you really need to see this movie as soon as possible. The film (based on the Robert Bloch novel and adapted for the screen by Joseph Stefano) subverts all of your expectations in such a groundbreaking way (especially in 1960). How can you not treasure how the narrative of the movie changes? How can you not marvel at the iconic shower scene? How can not praise perhaps the greatest twist ending ever devised in cinema? How can you not be stunned by Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates? How can you not love this movie? Note: Both the standard release and the never before released to home video uncut version are included here.

“The Birds” is one of Hitchcock’s most popular films but it’s not among my favorites. Sure, as far as “when nature attacks”/”when animals attack” movies go it’s the cream of the crop, but the character drama is lacking despite a quality performance by Tippi Hendren. Still, there’s plenty of trademark Hitchcock directorial flourishes and some genuinely memorable bird attack moments.

Overall Thoughts: You can’t go wrong with these 4 films at all. Hopefully, we’ll get more Hitchcock 4K sets down the line. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.66:1 2160p for “Rear Window” and 2160p 1080p for “Psycho,” “The Birds,” and “Vertigo.” How do they look? “Vertigo” is jaw-droppingly stunning, “The Birds” gets a nice upgrade, “Rear Window” is a little blotchy in spots but has an impressive level of clarity while “Psycho” isn’t all that different from the Blu-ray release (although still a nice B&W print to be sure).

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA for “Rear Window” and “The Birds,” DTS:X for “Vertigo,” and 5.1 DTS-HD MA and “Psycho.”   How do they sound? ‘Window’ and “Psycho” sound clean, “Vertigo” has the highest quality track and naturally sounds the best while “The Birds” track stands out as there is so much going on audio wise.


Extras:
* Blu-ray copies of all 4 films
* Digital copies of all 4 films
* Production photos and theatrical and re-release trailers for “Rear Window.”
* Commentary on “Rear Window” by author John Fawell, commentary on “Vertigo” by director William Friedkin, and commentary on “Psycho” by author Stephen Rebello.
* “Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary”- A doc about Hitchcock, the film and its themes.
* “A Conversation With Screenwriter John Michael Hayes”- An interview with the “Rear Window” screenwriter.
* “Pure Cinema: Through The Eyes Of The Master” and “Breaking Barriers: The Sound Of Hitchcock” featurettes
* “Hitchcock/Truffaut”- Audio recordings of Francois Truffaut interviewing Alfred Hitchcock (on all 4 4K discs)
* “Masters Of Cinema”- An episode of the program featuring an interview with Alfred Hitchcock.
* Foreign censorship ending of “Vertigo.”
* Featurette titled “Partners In Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborators.”
* Theatrical and restoration trailer for “Vertigo.”
* A self-explanatory “100 Years Of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era.”
* “Obsessed With Vertigo: New Life For Hitchcock’s Masterpiece”- An AMC special on “Vertigo.”
* Stills for “Psycho” lobby cards, archives, behind-the-scenes photos, production photos, and posters and ads.
* “Psycho” theatrical trailers and a re-release trailer.
* Shower sequence storyboards and the shower sequence with and without music.
* Newsreel footage of the release of “Psycho.”
* 2 featurettes for “Psycho” titled “The Making Of Psycho” and “Psycho Sound.”
* “In The Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy”- A 26 minute extra on the legendary filmmaker.
* Tippi Hedren’s screen test for “The Birds.”
* 2 featurettes for “The Birds” titled “The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie” and “All About The Birds.”
* A deleted scene and the original ending for “The Birds.”
* 2 newsreels (one for “The Birds” and the other for a Hitchcock speech)
* “The Birds” theatrical trailer
* 2 Universal featurettes- “100 Years Of Universal: Restoring The Classics” and “100 Years Of Universal: The Lot.” 

September 8, 2020 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , ,

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