Blu-ray Review: 'Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection'
November 27th, 2012 10:20am EST
Ready for a little ‘hitch’ in your Blu-ray collection for the holiday season? Then check out the review below of the very large and comprehensive Blu-ray set "Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection" out now from Universal Home Entertainment. The big man and his legacy are reviewed below!
Title: "Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection"
Cast: Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Anthony Perkins
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 1759 minutes
Release Company: Universal Home Entertainment
I won’t mince words – Alfred Hitchcock was a master filmmaker. And it was never so apparent than in the amazing array of no less then fifteen films in this Limited Edition set. Meaning you get to see early Hitch touting more tame wares like "Saboteur" (which cleverly implies much more then it shows!) alongside later fare like the salacious "Frenzy" complete with sass and sex. My personal favorites here include of course the poignant "Psycho," the raw "Frenzy," the terror inducing "The Birds" and the sheer fun of "North By Northwest." But also evident is the love pairing of Hitch and actor muse Jimmy Stewart who in the delightfully witty "Rope," the ever engaging and way ahead of its time "Vertigo," the tense "Rear Window" and even the underrated "The Man Who Knew Too Much" both show what working with someone with equal precision and skill can accomplish. (Those two were made for each other!) This set is as much about the actors as it is a love letter to Hitch and his films. Some of the other films here do provide more in terms of memorable performances then amazing movies like Sean Connery in "Marnie," Shirley MacLaine in "The Trouble With Harry," Paul Newman in "Torn Curtain" and the zesty Karen Black (she of "Trilogy of Terror!") in "Family Plot," but every film in this set does provide something noteworthy for the Hitch fan. (BTW – favorite performance by an actor in a Hitch film here would be the layered work by Anthony Perkins in "Psycho" and favorite female hands down the captivating Kim Novak in "Vertigo!")
For those looking to this set for something beyond the films themselves your ship has come in. This is a set the big guy would be damn proud of as each of the fifteen films on fifteen discs has enough extra features to sink the Titanic. (That’s a lot of featurettes!) Universal has gone all out and this set is their Hitchcock swan song. Some of my favorite features from this immense set include:
-The Featurette 'Rope Unleashed' with interview insight from late play adapter Hume Cronyn, as well as other writers who talk Hitchcock
-'Cary Grant: A Class Apart' located on the "North by Northwest" disc is a fully formed doc that goes through the iconic man’s life from start to finish with wives, fellow actors, friends and historians (this one could have been on its own disc for crying out loud!)
-'The Making of Psycho' doesn’t have any Perkins or Hitch, but you get plenty of insight via candid players Janet Leigh and Joseph Stefano that’s juicy indeed
-'The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie' takes on the flick from the point of view of the monster genre and it’s certainly worthy of it. Chatting here are the likes of other Universal monster guys like John Carpenter, Joe Dante and Ron Underwood of "Tremors" fame
-The best 'Commentary Track' of the set has to go to the "Vertigo" audio track helmed by "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection" filmmaker William Friedkin who provides a little of everything including story analysis, historical aspects, character dissections and even his own sassy opinion (of Jimmy Stewart in the film – “I have never felt Stewart is the ideal guy to play this part.”) - this track a MUST listen!
-'Trailers' that really show Hitch’s showmanship included here are "Psycho" (go through the house and motel with the man himself!), "The Birds" (see Hitch dare to eat...chicken!) and "Frenzy" (what’s that floating on the water – it’s...Hitch!)
THE HIDDEN GEM
The packing itself is very becoming, but gem kudos must go to the '50-page Collectable Booklet' that comes with this set. Never has something in the vein of liner notes been so detailed and amazing to browse. Notable sights within include:
-Full Bios on Everything from Hitch, his actors and actresses and even nifty film facts
-A loving section on Title Sequence Designer Saul Bass who constructed the trippy work for "Vertigo"
-A full listing of all of Hitchcock’s famed cameos (it’s like Where’s Waldo!)
-An amazing array of various posters ("Vertigo" has the best stuff in my humble opinion!)
-A very funny MPAA Production Code Review of "The Birds" script mentioning things like the language and putting a slip over bra and panties
-Best of the bunch is in the "Psycho" section with both Original Bates House Blueprints and even more impressive Original Shower Storyboards
Worth the Moola: Whether you’re a Hitch fan or not if you don’t respect the man and his work after viewing all this set has to offer, you need to stop watching movies forever.
Photo Credits: Photos Courtesy of Universal Home Entertainment