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on November 28, 2012
There are three absolutely gorgeous new transfers contained in this set of 15 Hitchcock films:
1. Rear Window
2. The Trouble with Harry
3. Vertigo [the color issues discovered in the pre-release copies have been corrected, and the U.S. edition does have a fine sounding mono option]

The two transfers that have had previous releases and are still available as "stand alones" are also stellar:
1. North by Northwest (despite some color issues)
2. Psycho

Seven of the transfers are acceptable high definition upgrades from their previous standard def releases:
1. Saboteur
2. Shadow of a Doubt
3. Rope
4. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) [This one really needs a restoration--but the problem here, isn't the transfer per se]
5. Torn Curtain
6. Topaz
7. Frenzy [The problem with the credits that were discovered in pre-release copies has been corrected]

That leaves us with three very problematic transfers:
1. The Birds -- clearly a lot of work went into this so-called restoration -- and I understand how difficult it is to work with the primitive process shots that never looked very good to begin with -- but the amount of digital artifacting that is evident in some scenes (particularly the segment involving Tippi Hedren crossing and re-crossing a bay) is simply unacceptable. Much of the movie looks better than it ever has on home video, but "traveling" video noise should never be evident.

2. Marnie - I *love* film grain, but too frequently the grain in this transfer looks like old fashioned television static from a poor signal.

3. Family Plot - Grain the size of basketballs and an overall look that implies the movie was shot through a sand filter makes this disc, by far, the worst transfer in the set. Depending on your sensitivity to such things, the movie is viewable, but still this transfer should never have been allowed to leave the studio. It's an embarrassment.
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on November 2, 2012
The four stars are an accurate rating of the transfer quality of most of the films in this collection. A few rate five stars ("Vertigo", "The Birds" and "Rear Window", for example).

But there are real defects in two of the titles in this set: Both "Marnie" and "Family Plot" were given slipshod transfers. "Marnie" particularly (a film I consider one of Hitchcock's masterpieces) has visual specks throughout, and some scenes of "weak" color. If you don't believe me, just go to a scene mid-way in the film and freeze the frame on a closeup. You'll see what seems a shabby grill on the faces. The images aren't clear and seemingly form a grill pattern. ("Frenzy" also exhibits flaws but not as seriously as those two.) These problems are obviously due to a lack of quality control in mastering these discs. To see the difference compare these two titles to "The Birds" or "Rear Window" and check the clarity and brightness of their color images in a freeze-frame. This crappy transferring is reprehensible for Universal in not taking the proper care to make sure the master Hitchcock has been given the treatment he deserves. They made so much money from the great works by this brilliant filmmaker they could have at least given ALL these films the highest quality treatment in Blu-ray technology!

This is certainly a trivial point, but also demonstrating Universal's inherent sloppiness, is that on a few of the discs, the spectacular new Universal corporate logo is actually shown TWICE in a row through an error in the disc making! (Note: I noticed this only in the UK region-free release!)

Most of the other discs are very good to superb, but these two (and some transferring flaws in "Frenzy" as well) could be enough for many to reject this set. I won't return it because most of the discs are essential to anyone's collection at it is, but I will continue to hope that in the future a new Blu-ray master of "Marnie" will be redone and made available in a beautiful transfer! UNIVERSAL OWES IT TO EVERYONE WHO LOVES THE ART OF CINEMA!

The technicians at Universal who are responsible for these shabby transfers should be ashamed of themselves!

Bob Blenheim

PS: Many chastise reviewers for lowering the rating of great films because of flaws in the quality of the discs; They say only the film should be rated. I agree with them for the most part. But still, the low quality of several of these disc transfers, I think, should properly reflect at least one star lower to warn buyers. I admit if these discs were all superb the set would inarguably garner 5 stars by anyone remotely interested in film. These movies are among the greatest in the history of cinema. They ALL need to handled with the utmost of care as if they were treasures (which they are!).
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After having watched all the movies in this set I have mixed feelings about the quality of the transfers for "Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection"; a number of transfers look exceptinally good while others look exceptional bad. I'm hoping as archievist Robert Harris as suggested in comments that Universal will recall the titles that weren't done correctly and redo them. Let's examine the individual titles shall we?

All the titles in this set features the original special features (except for the commentary track featuring James Katz, Robert Harris and Herbert Coleman) from the DVD releases/boxed set from a couple of years back but presented in standard definition. The commentary tracks are also included as well. The original mono soundtrack for "Vertigo" appears here and the redone 5.1 mix improves on the previous version which featured new sound effects, etc. that had to be done because the original elements are missing. The mix is a bit more subtle and more closely resembles the original mono track (although it hasn't been redone I suspect it was tweaked a bit for this new transfer).

1. "Saboteur"-The earliest film in this set looks quite nice with nice depth and clarity. Grade: A

2. "Shadow of a Doubt"-I've seen complaints that the film uses an older HD master and that digital noise reduction was overused on this title. I think it looks fine if a bit soft. Grade: A

3. "Rope" looks decent although the colors could have been stronger and there are speckles evident in the film used for the transfer that haven't been cleaned up. Grain is inconsistent. Grade: C

4. We jump ahead a number of years to Hitch's classic "Rear Window". Although this doesn't use the restored negative prepared by Robert Harris a number of years back, it looks really good. The colors are nicely reproduced and although there are some minor issues with the transfer, most folks aren't going to notice or care. This is a very nice restoration job by Universal to this title. Grade: A-

5. "The Man Who Knew Too Much"-Looks OK although colors are inconsistent as are density and detail. Grade: C. There is also quite a bit of lip flap where the audio is slightly out-of-synch with the action. Perhaps this was on the earlier version I don't recall.

6. "The Trouble with Harry" evidently has survived remarkably well with nice color, clarity and depth to the image. Grade: A

7. "Vertigo" along with "Rear Window", "North by Northwest", "Psycho" and "The Birds" is, to many people, one of the crown jewels of this set. Hitch's most personal film received a critical lukewarm reaction in 1958 when it was released. Rarely seen until it's reissue in the 1980's the stature of the film has grown. Grade: A

Harris worked on the restoration of this title and, if I'm not mistaken, he was consulted on this title for the Blu-ray.

Overall "Vertigo" looks marvelous although one could nitpick about some minor issues with the title but, on the whole, this looks exceptional.

8. "North by Northwest" features the same digitally restored transfer that was released individually by Warner Home Video. Grade: A

9. "Psycho" features the same digitally restored transfer that Universal did recently. Grade: A-
10. "The Birds" features a restored version of the film prepared for the 50th Anniversary of the film (it is being preped for an individual release next year along with some of the other titles in this set). "The Birds" varies from exceptional to just OK from shot-to-shot. Grade: B "The Birds" was a difficult project to restore due to the overwhelming amount of process shots in the film.

11. "Marnie" has a number of issues including the use of (reportedly) an older HD transfer for the film. As others have mentioned the film probably could have benefited from a digital facelift to eliminate the speckles and various other flaws evident in this transfer. Hopefully Universal will return to this title at some point and correct the issues dogging this title. Grade: D
12. "Torn Curtain" Grade: B+

"Torn Curtain" is considered one of Hitchcock's lesser films for good reason--Paul Newman and Julie Andrews have little in the way of on screen chemistry, the replacement of Bernard Herrmann's fascinating original score (although the replacement score isn't bad--it just can't match Herrmann's)and the use of process shots are painfully obvious in many instances. The script had potential but just doesn't gel. There is a marvelous sequence which compares to the best Hitchcock had ever done where Newman's character has to kill an enemy agent using a gas oven. It's a marvelous, intense sequence but it's a pity that it isn't in a better film.

13. "Topaz" Grade: B
"Topaz" was problematic from the very beginning as Hitchcock was working with a script by Leon Uris that Hitchcock considered a disaster. Hitchcock sometimes shot sequences only hours before they were finished after bringing in veteran writer Samuel Taylor ("Vertigo", "Sabrina")to rework the script but, beyond a couple of sequences, "Topaz" didn't engage Hitchcock. The film looks decent. Hitchcock couldn't decide on his ending so he shot THREE endings.

14. "Frenzy" An older HD transfer with heavy handed use of DNR which smears some of the details, skin textures, the film looks decent. Color looks nice and depth is much improved. "Frenzy" is considered by many to be a late classic from Hitch and a return to form after stumbling with "Torn Curtain" and "Topaz". Grade:B

The issue with the opening titles (Universal found the backing footage and generated new opening titles that were rife with misspellings and uses the wrong font for the opening)have been corrected by going back to the original opening titles for the film.

15. "Family Plot" the most recent Hitchcock film SHOULD have looked the best here and been the least problematic but, in fact, it looks the WORST. The film is a pixelated nightmare looking like a badly upscaled 480p/DVD transfer. Of all the titles in this set "Family Plot" is the one that needs to be redone the most urgently and replaced. Grade: F

The packaging isn't all that great in my opinion. The design of this set is similiar to the Alien Anthology [Blu-rayfrom a couple of years. While it's compact, to take the titles out you have to slide them out of the cardboard pages of the book style packaging. The slipcase is extremely sturdy and we get a 58 page paperback book with photos of memorabilia and trivia about each film much like the DVD boxed set from 2005.

The only special feature that appears to be missing is a segment of the AFI Tribute to Hitchcock as far as I can tell and the only new extra is a 15 minute featurette on "The Birds" (it's quite good if a bit short).

Even the least popular title in this set deserves to be digitally restored, (the "digitally restored" comment on the back of this set is hyperbole--there are SOME titles that have been digitally restored but many have not been) but the best titles in this set look extremely good. You may want to wait until these titles are individually released if you can't get this at a good price as there are great movies and so-so ones in this set.
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on October 5, 2012
Just wanted to point out, as it's not immediately evident in the "most helpful" reviews (though it can be found in the comments) that the UK box does not contain "North By Northwest." Given the difference in pricing between US and UK sets, this may not be a deal-breaker for many people, but it is a pretty significant omission.
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on September 4, 2012
The Hitchcock set is going to be loaded with 14 great film treasures that have been cleaned up for blu-ray. It is also going to be expensive in the U.S. at $225, but the same set (as well as a better one) can be had from Amazon U.K. for far cheaper. I bought the deluxe limited version of the the set (which is region free and will play in U.S. players) for £86.41 which equals $137.26 I was given a promotional discount at checkout from the original asking price of £100.00 to get to that price. I also separately ordered the deluxe coffin version of the Universal Monsters set, which after discount is £39.75 which comes out to $63.14 including shipping. So, using Amazon U.K., I was able to get deluxe versions of BOTH box sets for a total of $200, $25 less than most in the U.S. are paying for the regular version of just the Hitchcock set. Buying from Amazon U.K. is simple since you can use your U.S. Amazon login, and it's easy to tell which titles are region free (can play in all blu-ray players regardless of country)since those titles are clearly marked as being "[Region Free]". So, head over to Amazon U.K. and save some money to get the same thing, or something even better, for less money!
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on September 27, 2014
I just watched THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and there was something missing in the SDH subtitles. I know this won't be a big deal to anyone who can hear properly, but it is to me. The DVD version released, I think, by Universal in 2000 gives you the lyrics to the Stormclouds Cantata in the subtitles. This blu-ray version just says "operatic singing." I was all set to give my DVD version to a friend until I saw this. The Blu-ray version is a much better, sharper picture, no surprise there, so I will continue to watch it when I want to see this movie. But now I'm keeping the DVD version so I have the lyrics when I want to be reminded of WHAT they are singing. WHY ON EARTH DIDN"T THEY JUST USE THE SUBTITLES FROM THE DVD VERSION????
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VINE VOICEon November 9, 2012
While Universal is swimming in millions of dollars and are in NO way hurting for money, they release this piece of crap product to the world who are suffering through this tough economy demanding that they pay top dollar for a shabby product while they lie , claiming that this is 15 restored films. They should be ashamed of themselves treating the unsuspecting public and the master filmmaker Hitchcock with such contempt with their unbelievably shoddy work.
CONTACT UNIVERSAL TODAY AND DEMAND A RECALL!!

"Family Plot" looks awful with a pixelated image. I guarantee that you haven't seen a worse looking blu-ray. Go watch it on youtube and you'll get about the same quality as some parts of this blu-ray.
"The Man Who Knew Too Much" has NOT been restored and is in danger of being lost forever as originally filmed because Universal decided not to spend money on restoring the film, despite this being a money-making film for them (that will pay for its own restoration) and, again Universal is NOT hurting for cash. They can afford it, but chose not to and chose to charge YOU top dollar for them being cheap. DO NOT ACCEPT THIS!
The sky pulsates between blue and yellow, which distracts viewers. Colors throughout the film are wrong and change mid-scene. It makes Hitchcock look incompetent. Universal couldn't even apply proper color correction. Bad Universal.
"Marnie" has noise on the image for the first 17 chapters. It needs to be redone.
More minor problems exist on almost all of the other films, like screwing up the color during the titles of Vertigo...the list is long, my friends, including Frenzy's edge enhancement among issues.

DO NOT ACCEPT THIS SHODDY WORK FROM CHEAPSKATE UNIVERSAL PICTURES. CONTACT THEM TODAY AND DEMAND A RECALL! THEY HAVE THE MONEY TO FIX THIS AND TO DO IT RIGHT.. ESPECIALLY AT THIS PRICE TAG!
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on September 24, 2012
For those scared off by Charles Lofgren's review, titled "$$MORONS$$," don't be. PAL/NTSC doesn't apply to Blu-Ray. If the discs are region-free, you can play them anywhere. Unlike DVD, the Blu-Ray player converts the raw data to PAL or NTSC (whichever your setup is) allowing you to view it with no difficulty whatsoever.
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VINE VOICEon November 1, 2012
I just saw this at Costco for $163 and at about $10 per movie I consider this a bargain .... regardless of what it would cost buying from an overseas vendor...

I am staggered by the beauty of the prints and I'm something of a cinema diva when it comes to color or classic black and white....between sharpness and contrast I'm picky and this meets my expectations and exceeds them.

As far as the packaging ...I find it stunning. The book that holds the discs is quality and the images on the pages in hi gloss are striking and very fun in the style of the original posters etc.. The book that comes with it isnt a coffee table book but its more than window dressing (excuse that rear pun) and I enjoyed browsing through it. All of this isn't some overblown size either...its appropriate to its size and easy to store.

I actually do not have a problem with the standard Universal menu pages as others do...I find them easy to understand and navigate....some makers are getting so clever just navigating the normal options is almost like finding "easter eggs".

I'm not going to review these classic films and lets just say when hyperbole is rampant THESE ARE classics... but I wanted to give a pricing heads up to those interested and confirm that unlike what some are saying these films look superb and they have transferred all the bonus features from the normal DVDs...and I'd like to add that THAT is becoming more scarce these days with Blu Rays coming out lacking some of the informative bonus features of the normal discs causing them to need to be kept by true collectors and if you are looking at this set you are a collector and not someone who would just want Psycho or North By Northwest ...etc

I own literally hundreds of Blu Rays and this is without a doubt my favorite set to date.
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on October 17, 2013
I can't comment on the content of the set (which I'm sure is magnificent due to the title of the boxset) because I've had to return it to Amazon TWICE now due to defective packaging from Universal. The first set was almost completely unglued and the discs slid around freely in the sleeves (and sometimes completely out of the BOTTOM of the book). Some were scratched pretty badly and one had actually been GLUED into the sleeve as a result of the shoddy manufacturing of the book-style disc holder. The second set was in better shape but still had a few minor scratches on some discs and then some not-so-minor ones. On one of the last discs was a big greasy fingerprint -- not mine. And then while examining the last few discs, the disc holder started coming unglued in the exact same way the first one had. Discs started to slide out of the book again. Ridiculous! I hadn't even had it in my hands for 3 minutes. Completely unacceptable for such an expensive product. Univeral is notorious for cheaping-out when it comes to their releases but this kind of poorly-made product just shows contempt for the consumer. I'll change my review when I get a functional product. Until then, I'll just say that Universal needs to pull their heads out.
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