Customer Reviews: Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection (Lifeboat / Spellbound / Notorious / The Paradine Case / Sabotage / Young and Innocent / Rebecca / The Lodger)
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on October 29, 2008
This is a fantasic set, featuring some of the best transfers I've seen and some great new extras... however, it's becoming clear that MGM needs to recall this set a.s.a.p. In the set I bought, three of the discs refuse to play completely in my standalone DVD player, and the other jitter and jump occasionally.

I run the Alfred Hitchcock Wiki site and I've received dozens of emails and messages from people who've bought the set and are unable to play one or more of the discs. Clearly whoever handled the physical manufacturing of the DVDs has foobar'd big time.

Ideally I'd have given this set 5 stars but, under the cirmcustances, I've got to say "buyer beware" and that you should wait for MGM to recall the set.
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VINE VOICEon October 15, 2008
I received my collection last night and what a treat!

I love the casing. I think the plastic case is durable and great. The spiral notebook feature could not be nicer.

However, I too had problems getting the discs out without scratching them. And I watched Notorious last night ... well at least I tried to.
About an hour into the film the most unbearable stops, starts, pixels, lack of sound all started destroying the movie!

Right when Dev and Alicia get out of the wine cellar and are in the garden devising a way to get out of the situation, the picture becomes distorted. After a while it returns to normal, only to start up again! Whole scenes are skipped until the final scene.

The disc is defective and Rebecca looks as though it is too : ((.

A replacement should already be on the way (thank you Amazon!), but I warn you to check the discs carefully right away.

Hitchcock and the movies are amazing nonetheless.


Even after replacements, still the same problems! Notorious is unplayable from certain scenes in the scene selection option on the menu. I have watched every other DVD in the collection and although there were some slight distortions, nothing as bad as Notorious.

I am so disappointed in this product.

***Update for the Update***
I have finally received a quality product. It took a very long time, and many attempts to get it. I think Amazon has discovered the bad batch and removed them from their stock. Thank goodness too, right in time for the holidays!
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on August 21, 2008
The quality of Hitchcock's movies is, I think, no longer in dispute. These are some of his best, and they're worth owning without question. This review will focus completely on the 8-disc set itself, the transfers, and the packaging.

I'll start with the packaging: it sucks. Big time. How manufacturers continue to produce these expensive sets and package the DVDs in cardboard sleeves is BEYOND me. I opened the set, saw the cardboard sleeves, and quickly removed the discs from the sleeves and put them in a slim case for shelving. As careful as I was... and I was VERY careful... I still ended up scratching the discs a little. I popped the discs in to check to see if, slight as the scratches were, they affected playback... and they seem to play fine. Still, I have a set that's 2 hours in my possession, and the discs are scuffed... and that bothers me.

They made an effort at cool packaging which caused this... the discs come in a very cool spiral-bound book that has a few pages on each movie, and then you flip to where the disc sets. I admire the design, I even like the book, but it would have been better served if the movies were OUTSIDE it. In cases, maybe? Anyway.

The transfers seem very, very good. Given a lot of these movies are probably from significantly degraded transfers, I have to applaud the restoration efforts. I've watched The Paradine Case and am now watching Young and Innocent... Paradine was practically spotless, Young and Innocent looks the same. Audio is crisp, noise and film scratches are gone. I'm impressed... this set will make a dandy replacement for the Criterion set featuring Notorious, Spellbound and Rebecca, assuming the same standards hold throughout the set.

All in all, I'd have still bought the set, it's the only way to get a lot of these movies, and the quality is good. I really wish I'd been in the marketing meeting when they decided on the blasted cardboard sleeves, but what can ya do, ya know?
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on January 6, 2009
I bought this set back in October and ran into the same quality problem so many others have experienced. However all eight discs played fine on my Toshiba HD-A35, albeit some were a bit noisy. (Rebecca being the worst) Since they did play, I did not return them fearing I would get a set that was worse. I recently set up my old Liteon region free player to take the workload off of the Toshiba, as the vast majority of my viewing is in SD. I have been watching the reviews here and decided to take another look at these discs on my Liteon player. The vibration was tremendous on Rebecca and it refused to play. Notorious was almost as bad as it would spin up freeze, spin down and back up again, freeze again, stop, start, etc. About 4 of the 8 discs have no problems; the others do with varying degrees. My curiosity was up, so I had to experiment. I was able to rip all eight to my hard drive with no problem. This is a good test of the data. I made a copy of the worst one, Rebecca, on a DVD+R DL disc and tried it out on the Liteon. It played perfectly, nice and quiet. This tells me there is no problem with the data on the disc. I know some have commented on the funny look of some of the discs, and think that it is due to de-lamination from warpage, and therefore gives read errors. Mine also look like that but I have seen this on other discs of mine that were packaged properly in standard cased. They have never given me a problem. The next step was to open up my Liteon and see just what was going on. I put Rebecca on the spindle with the magnetic clamp on top and slowly spun the disc. With an eye loupe I could see no indication of warpage, but did notice that the two layers of Polycarbonate that sandwich together to make the disc were not exactly lined up. There was a bit of adhesive on the edges also that was not consistent. I did the same inspection with the DVD-R DL that I made, and the difference was amazing. The edge looked like a perfectly machined surface with the slightest hint of adhesive. The telltale test was actually starting up the disc to play. The vibration and out of round blur of the center of the spindle was tremendous. It was obvious that the disc was grossly out of balance. The disc has to spin faster when playing the beginning of the movie since that data is in the innermost part of the disc. DVDs play from the inside to the outside on the first layer, and from the outside back in for the second layer. The menus, studio logos, and FBI warnings are stored after the main movie, and end up about in the middle of the disc depending on move length. When I play Rebecca on my Toshiba, the noise doesn't start until the main movie starts, and as the movie progresses, the disc spin slower and the vibration slowly dissipates. The menu, logo, and FBI warning play silently. If the problem was warpage as some have speculated, the movie should play better at the beginning, and slowly get worse as the laser travels farther out, where the warpage would increase at the edge of the disc. To prove my theory, I took a piece of an Avery label with a couple of layers of copper foil for weight and attached it to Rebecca's topside. After testing in several spots I found the right place and Rebecca played just fine, with no noise or vibration, on my Liteon player! This is of course not a solution, but merely a demonstration of the actual problem with these discs. The discs are obviously defective. It is a sad state when I can go through hundreds of DVD+R's at about 25 cents each and never see a problem like this, and spend $10 or more, each, for a classic movie, and get the cheapest piece of junk, made by the lowest bidder that the studio could find.

P.S. Please don't lecture me on the legalities of the ripping and burning of this disc. As Doc Brown said in Back to the Future, "It's a science experiment". Besides I paid my money, and nowhere have I advocated or given instruction on how to circumvent any copy protection scheme.
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on December 30, 2008
i sent an email to the company (FOX) and this was their response:

At this time our corporate office is aware of this issue they will be looking into the matter in regards this set. We do not have a time or date when this issue will be resolved. You may check back in the near future for any further information on this box set.

Thank you,

Fox Consumer
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on October 25, 2008
I've been ordering from Amazon since they started. This is the first product I've ever returned. The buzzing, humming and vibrating occurs on several of the DVD's. I've asked for a replacement, but based on the other reviews, it seems I'll eventually be looking for a refund. It's a shame as I've been wanting many of the movies in the set. I'll keep my fingers crossed, but I'm not hopeful about this set.

Addendum: I returned the Premiere Collection for a refund. I purchased the single copy versions of Rebecca, Spellbound and Notorious. Only Rebecca will not play in my DVD player. It plays without a problem in a friend's DVD player, so I will keep it for now. When I buy a new DVD player, I'll bring Rebecca along and try to find a player in which it will work. Alot of effort to simply watch one of my favorite movies, but well worth it.
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on November 17, 2008
I got the Hitchcock "Premiere" collection from Amazon, and experienced multiple problems with the discs--freezing, pixels, vibration, etc. I got a second replacement set from Amazon, and have experienced the same problems. "Paradine Case" is the worst, and the problem was in the exact same spot in the replacement. DO NOT PURCHASE THIS SET until a recall is made, or a second edition is available. I tried these discs on multiple machines and on my laptop. The problems are NOT caused by user error or bad machines. My equipment is excellent (I actually tried these discs in 6 different machines). Read all of the other reviews about this set, and you will see that these problems are widespread, and NOT isolated incidents! I hope that this situation gets resolved soon, and another issue of this set is released. I love these films, and would really like to have a quality set which works properly. The packaging needs improvement also, to better protect the discs. It is impossible to remove and replace them from the cardboard slots without scuffing or scratching. This is probably the worst packaging I've seen for a boxed set. However, the packaging is a relatively minor concern compared to the quality control issues with the discs.
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With hours of all-new special features including audio commentaries, featurettes, screen tests, still galleries, vintage radio interviews, an AFI Tribute to Hitchcock and more, the DVD collection also includes a 32-page notebook with trivia, and production notes. Rebecca, Spellbound and Notorious will also be available as single discs. The following is the press release for the set:

Lifeboat (1944)
After their ship is sunk in the Atlantic by Germans, eight people are stranded in a lifeboat, among them a glamorous journalist , a tough seaman, a nurse and an injured sailor. Their problems are further compounded when they pick up a ninth passenger - the German captain from the U-boat that torpedoed them. With its powerful interplay of suspense and emotion, this legendary classic is a microcosm of humanity, revealing the subtleties of man's strengths and frailties under extraordinary duress. Nominated for three Academy Awards, Alfred Hitchcock's World War II drama, is a remarkable story of human survival.
Commentary by Film Professor Drew Casper
The Making of Lifeboat
Still Gallery

Young and Innocent (1937)
In this witty, suspense thriller a police chief's daughter helps a fugitive accused of murder prove his innocence.

Commentary with film historians Stephen Rebello & Bill Krohn
Isolated Music and Effects Track
Audio Interview: Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Hitchcock
Audio Interview: Francois Truffaut Interviews Hitchcock
Restoration Comparision

The Lodger (1927)
One of the best silent films still in existence has no extra features? I know it was previously only available in the public domain, so believe me, I'm thankful, but nothing?
Story synopsis: A serial killer is seeking blonde girls as his victims in London. A strange lodger moves into a rented room. The man goes out on foggy nights, keeps a photo of an unidentified blonde girl in his room, and flirts with the landlady's daughter, Daisy, who just happens to be blonde. Daisy's boyfriend is a police detective, and jealousy arouses his suspicion more than it might normally be stirred.

Notorious (1946)
Daughter of an accused World War II traitor, Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) is enlisted to entrap one of her father's colleagues in Brazil, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains). Her American contact, secret agent T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) is openly contemptuous of Alicia and instructs her to wed Sebastian. It is only after she is wed that Devlin lets himself admit that he's fallen in love with her.

Commentary with film historian Rick Jewell
Commentary with film historian Drew Casper
Isolated Music and Effects Track
The Ultimate Romance: The Making of Notorious Featurette
Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Spymaster Featurette
AFI Tribute to Hitchcock
1948 Radio Play Starring Joseph Cotton and Ingrid Bergman
Audio Interview: Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Hitchcock
Audio Interview: Francois Truffaut Interviews Hitchcock
Restoration Comparision
Still Gallery
PLUS: A 4-Page Booklet

Rebecca (1940)
A young woman marries a fascinating older widower only to discover that she must live in the shadows of his first wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years before.

Commentary by film historian/author Richard Schickel
Screen tests
Making of Rebecca Featurette
The Gothic World of Daphne Du Maurier Featurette
Original 1938 Radio Play Starring Orson Welles
1941 Radio Play Presented by Cecil B. DeMille
1950 Radio Play with Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
Audio Interview: Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Hitchcock
Audio Interview: François Truffaut Interviews Hitchcock
PLUS: A Four-page booklet

Sabotoge (1936)
A woman learns that her movie theater manager husband is actually a foreign agent when a device he has made kills her brother. Based on Joseph Conrad's novel, The Secret Agent.

Commentary with film historian Leonard Leff
Audio Interview: Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Hitchcock
Restoration Comparision

Spellbound (1945)
When John Ballantine (Gregory Peck), the new director of a mental institution arrives on the job, the staff is concerned. He seems too young for the position and his answers to their questions are vague and detached. Dr. Peterson (Ingrid Bergman), while knowing he is an impostor with emotional issues, nevertheless falls in love with him. Turning to her mentor, Dr. Alex Brulov (Michael Checkhov) and the use of psychoanalysis she tries to get to the root of Ballantine's emotional problems.

Commentary with film historians Thomas Schatz & Charles Ramirez Berg
Guilt by Association: Psychoanalyzing Spellbound Featurette
A Cinderella Story: Rhonda Fleming Featurette
Dreaming with Scissors: Hitchcock, Surrealism and Salvador Dali Featurette
1948 Radio Play Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Audio Interview: Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Hitchcock
Audio Interview: Film Historian Rudy Belhemer Interviews Composer
Still Gallery
PLUS: A Four-page booklet

The Paradine Case (1947)
Beautiful Anna Paradine (Alida Valli) is accused of poisoning her older wealthy husband. Her lawyer, the happily married Anthony Keane (Gregory Peck) takes the case but also lets his heart rule his head when he falls hard for his client.

Commentary with film historians Stephen Rebello & Bill Krohn
Isolated Music and Effects Track
1949 Radio Play Starring Joseph Cotton
Audio Interview: Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Hitchcock
Restoration Comparision

All of these films have either been in the public domain, gone out of print entirely, or been available only as expensive individual entries in the Criterion collection. It is good to have them all together at an affordable price and loaded with extras.
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on October 30, 2008
As others have said, this set needs recalled. ***DO NOT BUY THIS SET*** The first disc I tried made horrible sounds, and after reading about all the problems everyone else is having I put everything back in the package and returned it for a refund. Such a shame too, I needed many of the movies in this set to complete my Hitchcock collection!
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on November 3, 2008
Tried two sets, and both featured defective discs that wouldn't play. Amazon has been great about handling the issue, but MGM is going to have to step up and redo this set and pull the defective ones off the shelves.
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