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142 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitch at the apex of his career
Though he was an undisputed genius of the cinema, not everyone needs the complete Hitchcock features. If you're a keen fan, they're available on DVD in large, rather expensive box sets: the 15-disc Masterpiece, nine-disc Signature, and eight-disc Premiere Collections (these don't include his "non-Hitchcockian" silent films and talkies from the 1920s and early 30s). But...
Published on October 28, 2011 by Thomas E. Davis

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81 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Regression
I'll add my voice to the chorus calling this set a pointless cash-in. These recycled transfers are really out-of-date in light of recent high-def restorations of some of these films. For example, Psycho here is presented in the same master as the Masterpiece Collection, not the superior one from the later special edition. And the extras added to that release are not...
Published on November 30, 2011 by ZYX


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142 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitch at the apex of his career, October 28, 2011
This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection - Limited Edition (DVD)
Though he was an undisputed genius of the cinema, not everyone needs the complete Hitchcock features. If you're a keen fan, they're available on DVD in large, rather expensive box sets: the 15-disc Masterpiece, nine-disc Signature, and eight-disc Premiere Collections (these don't include his "non-Hitchcockian" silent films and talkies from the 1920s and early 30s). But many Hitchcock lovers recall the five films on this reasonably-priced five-disc set most fondly, and they are without question among his finest achievements, all of them produced in Hollywood between 1954 and 1963.

Presented with a few interesting extras and options, the DVDs will do nicely for most folks -- though not for the angry Blu-ray aficionados who've given the box single-star ratings. This may come as a shock to them, but some people who are just discovering Hitch have ordinary DVD players and 32-inch TVs and are not planning to spend thousands to upgrade their collections or their equipment. If you have a big TV and want Blu-rays, however, this and the Masterpiece boxes are both available in that format, offering excellent video and audio quality and far more supplementary material than their DVD editions.

Following is a brief review of each film in this set. All are in color except for "The Birds," which is black and white.

Rear Window: Jimmy Stewart is a housebound photographer who thinks he's witnessed a neighbor (Raymond Burr) commit a murder. He enlists his girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, to investigate, and they're both drawn deeper and deeper into hotter and hotter water. A master class in the art of suspense.

Vertigo: Stewart plays a detective haunted by loss, while Kim Novak portrays two women, one of whom is a doppelganger of the other. Is she a twin or a ghost? This is a mysterious, compelling tale of obsession, madness, and death, with one of the most brilliant climaxes in the history of film.

North by Northwest: Cary Grant is an innocent man on the run in this gripping spy thriller. Eva Marie Saint plays his love interest and James Mason his nemesis. The film is propelled by renowned set pieces -- a stabbing at the UN, a chase by a crop duster, and a literal cliffhanger atop Mount Rushmore.

Psycho: An embezzler played by Janet Leigh meets Anthony Perkins, a motel manager with maternal issues, in one of most influential horror movies ever made. "Psycho" is filled with twists that don't just shock; they chill you to the bone. You may want a hot shower after this one (or maybe not).

The Birds: Tippi Hedren follows Rod Taylor to a small town where birds suddenly start terrorizing the inhabitants. We never learn why; in fact, the randomness and lack of reason are among the most frightening things about the film. A terrific movie and a fitting conclusion to this must-see collection.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Search of VERTIGO., December 8, 2013
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Before Blu-ray, the very best home video version of Vertigo was the anamorphic DVD that Universal sold only as one of the 14 Hitchcock titles in the Masterpiece Collection. (I believe this collection also had the only anamorphic DVD version of Psycho.) It appears that Universal has released its Blu-ray version of Vertigo only as part of two collections: The Masterpiece and The Essentials collections.

I am glad that Universal has made Vertigo available in its far less expensive Essentials Blu-ray collection. In my opinion, Vertigo is not the greatest film ever made, but it is of special interest to me because of its San Francisco locations and overall Bay Area setting. Vertigo, along with Shadow of a Doubt and The Birds may also be of interest to Northern California natives. Anyway, here are my quality ratings of the 5 films contained in the Essentials Collection in order of their appeal:

1. North By Northwest: I have seen nearly every Hitchcock film and this one is my all time favorite. It features outstanding video quality in nearly every scene. The contrast is almost perfect, the picture detail is remarkably-clear and the color is about as good as it gets on Blu-ray. The North By Northwest disk in this collection is exactly the same as the Blu-ray disk from the Warner Bros. 50th Anniversary Edition, with two exceptions: The artwork on the disk is different and the option for selecting a music-only soundtrack is not available on the disk included in the Universal Essentials Collection. If you can do without Warner's 44-page book and the music-only soundtrack, the Universal Essentials Collection is the way to go for this title.

2. Vertigo: This film has very good to excellent color and picture detail. The Blu-ray version is a giant leap ahead of the anamorphic DVD and the sound is greatly improved. In view of the challenges encountered during the restoration of this classic, the quality of this latest Vertigo release is nothing short of amazing and Kim Novak's entrance in Vertigo is absolutely breathtaking. While it remains one of my favorite movies, Vertigo still has two insurmountable obstacles for me. First, I have trouble believing that shop girl Judy Barton could transform herself into a sophisticated Madeleine Elster. Second, I have no trouble believing that 50 year old 'Scottie' Ferguson could fall for 25 year old Madeleine/Judy, but I don't see how she could have fallen for him.

3. Rear Window: The elaborately-detailed set featured in this film requires fine detail and accurate color. This disk delivers on both counts. There are some variations in picture quality when scenes change, but the overall film presentation is very well done.

4. Psycho: The look of this black and white film is clear and well-detailed, with good contrast and enough film grain to avoid that pasty look so common in other black and white films transferred to Blu-ray.

5. The Birds: The dated special effects didn't transfer well to this high-definition format. Some scenes are very good, but others are not so good. This film is not one of my favorites, so I am not too concerned that it doesn't look all that great overall. Still, the film is highly-watchable and the great improvement over its DVD predecessor is a welcome change. If this is one of your favorite Hitchcock films, you will be able to overlook the flaws.

After reading the one-star reviews from 2011, I finally noticed that Amazon has mixed the Blu-ray and DVD reviews together. If I hadn't noticed this important fact, I would have been under the impression that these five Hitchcock Blu-ray disks from the Essentials Collection were made from out of date, vastly-inferior recycled masters. Then I discovered that Vertigo was first released on Blu-ray in October 2012. I already owned North By Northwest, which was released by Warner Bros. in 2009 and this disk is one of the finest Blu-ray releases that I have ever seen. So, when reading the reviews, keep in mind that many of them are for the DVD collection.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent collection, August 24, 2013
By 
Michael Dobey (colorado springs) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a great collection , and these were the restored films out of the 15 disc set. The rest of the films in that set are not restored. So they picked the restored films and put them in a nice set. It is worth owning and a lot cheaper than the 15 disc version , but then you don't have 15 films here. The movies here are all cinema classics of the highest order. In fact they are among hitch's strongest. The blu rays are great. Most of the one star reviews are complaining about earlier releases. that were dvd's only,
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't think twice about buying this set if you want to see "Vertigo" at its best!, November 4, 2013
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I have just received this item. I already had owned all of these movies, all but one in the "Masterpiece" DVD collection, also offered by Universal. My reason to purchase the present set was to own "Vertigo" in the High Definition Blu Ray format. It is one of my favorite movies, and recently named the best of all time by the British Film Institute. Filmed in VistaVision, the large frame format would seem to provide an excellent substrate for high resolution images. Within a few minutes, it was obvious how wonderful this new Blu Ray transfer is, compared to the already excellent DVD version. The mosquito noise, seen on the DVD, has vanished, revealing absolutely crystal-clear images- one can read the license plates on most of the cars, and even the small newsprint Scotty is perusing, while eavesdropping on Kim Novak, as she leaves her apartment. As importantly, color fidelity, and particularly color saturation, is awesome. Certainly, we have to thank Mr. Robet Harris for his miraculous restoration of the negative, which was in such poor condition that it was almost beyond recovery. I know other very alert reviewers have found flaws in the transfer, particularly at the end of the film. But, even allowing these imperfections, the overall improvement in picture quality derived from the Blu Ray transfer is more than worth the purchase price.

My only concern is what may be some very brief dropouts of the audio- I don't know if this is a disk problem or a malfunction of my player. Otherwise, the audio quality is excellent, with a remarkably fine stereophonic reproduction of Bernard Hermann's magical score, which makes an absolutely critical contribution to this extraordinary motion picture.

I really look forward to seeing other disks, including "The Birds," "North by Northwest, "Psycho," and "Rear Window," but even if all of them are unplayable, I'm still glad I purchased the new version of "Vertigo"- for those who love this movie, as the title of this set says, it's an "essential" addition to one's personal library!
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great set!!, October 9, 2011
This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection - Limited Edition (DVD)
This DVD box set is Beautiful, Great Art work! It is nice to see that this came with every movie on its own disk. Many company's are putting 2-3 movies on one disk. Also for never owning any of these movies there are many extras. I see that people are wanting it on Blue which I do not buy but I am sure it will come out eventually. I own about 12 Box sets and this is the nicest one I have bought and for 17 Dollars it was A steal.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Fantastic Films in One Place!, October 11, 2011
This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection - Limited Edition (DVD)
These films are classics and it's about time that they have released these four movies in a single pack, i have been waiting for these to come out for a while now. Although I already have Psycho on DVD, I would thoroughly enjoy having these movies together in one package. Any body who appreciates film would understand that we are rating the product on DVD, those who have blu-ray complaints should take it out towards Universal or WB. Ragging on his for it's lack of overrated blu-ray capabilities is like beating up a man who didn't do anything wrong. It remains pointless. So please, check out these films if you haven't even seen them (yes i do know some people who actually haven't seen these movies yet), or especially if you don't own these movies yet! They are amazingly well crafted pieces of art!
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81 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Regression, November 30, 2011
This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection - Limited Edition (DVD)
I'll add my voice to the chorus calling this set a pointless cash-in. These recycled transfers are really out-of-date in light of recent high-def restorations of some of these films. For example, Psycho here is presented in the same master as the Masterpiece Collection, not the superior one from the later special edition. And the extras added to that release are not included here. Vertigo, Rear Window, and The Birds are presented with a similar lack of concern here.

Universal has a history of not giving viewers the best releases of the Hitchcock films they own. When they reissued Vertigo with better picture quality in their Legacy Series, they didn't fix the existing botched color, and they dropped the original mono track, including only the 1996 soundtrack with all the doctored foley work/sound effects. Another example is The Man Who Knew Too Much in the Masterpiece collection, which had inferior picture quality to Universal's earlier DVD of the film. More recently, they release only Psycho on Blu, and then a year later we get this.
It seems to me that anyone wanting to own Hitchcock films on DVD would either want to pick and choose favorites from among the standalone releases or, for those with a serious interest in Hitchcock's work, get the whole Masterpiece Collection -- not have some arbitrary choice of "Essentials" made for them, and not even a great bargain to boot. The Masterpiece Collection has often been priced only slightly higher than the SRP of this "Essentials Collection," and it has 15 discs compared to this set's 5.

UPDATE: Universal has released an expensive Hitchcock Blu-ray set, and several of the transfers were were messed up and heavily criticized by some fans and people from the film distribution industry. They even had to delay the release due to a sloppy, newly fabricated credit sequence in which they'd misspelled names of cast and crew (seen on a pre-release screener disc). Due to the timing of that change, I guess the first print run had to go into a landfill. Really pathetic, Universal.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What else is there to say about Hitchcock?, July 28, 2013
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First, about the BluRay version that I'm reviewing. The movies look and sound like they were made yesterday. You can see that they were mastered with the love and care deserving of such masterpieces. You'll watch them again and again because of the second part of this brief review.

Second, Hitchcock. These movies are exactly why Hitchcock is so revered as a director. He moves an audience at will. Every frame is a lesson on what a movie should look like. A master.

Third, the movies, If you don't know, then buy this collection and embiggen yourself. You will not be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic collection, November 6, 2013
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Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection [Blu-ray] (released 6/4/2013) This collection was superbly remastered and transferred to blu-ray. In addition it is loaded with hours of extras for each of the five movies.
I hope they release more remastered collections including: Strangers on a Train, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dial M For Murder, The Trouble With Harry, and Notorious.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please check your discs individually! Universal messed up my set., October 25, 2013
By 
Ardeal "Emi" (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Please make sure you check each disc individually. I purchased my set and only watched Rear Window and Vertigo, then let the set stand for a few weeks. When I finally made time to watch North-by-Northwest, I realized that my set has 2 copies of Rear Window, and NBNW is missing!!! These movies are a definite improvement over their DVD versions.
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