Customer Review

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Value for Hitchcock Fans, August 29, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Collection (The 39 Steps / Jamaica Inn / Young and Innocent / The Manxman / The Secret Agent / Number 17 / The Ring / The Skin Game / The Cheney Vase) (DVD)
These DVDs (and The AH Collection II) are quite a good value. I�m a big Hitchcock fan, and before I bought them I had only seen cheapo VHS versions of a few of the movies (except for The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps, of which I had the Criterion editions). Anyway, I got the two box sets here on Amazon (they�re also now available in one big set with 14 DVDs), and I�ve watched through all of them.
The first thing you need to know, and then promptly forget about, is that Tony Curtis provides an introduction to each DVD, and man is it brutal! There are a lot of pictures that were publicity stills for his later movies or his TV series, and Tony says things like, �Hitch liked to shock people. You know what it�s like when you have a good twist at the end of a film? Hitch had a lot of those. Shocking!� His comments rarely relate to the movie. Anyway, I watched all the intros, but it was painful.
Several of the DVDs also have trailers for later Hitchcock films, all in horrible condition. Which makes the transfers of the actual movies all that much better, since they�re quite acceptable. The worst transfer is the earliest film, The Lodger, and the worst movies are The Manxman and Easy Virtue. Besides that, it was a pleasure watching them. None of the films are at the level of the two Criterion releases, and there are certainly lines and scratches throughout, but you can enjoy them. The sound is generally okay�very little screeching as I recall from the VHS copies I�ve seen. There�s really no bass response at all, but there�s not a whole lot of scratching either.
I think (a) except for the two Criterion ones, they�re the best copies out there, (b) if you�re a Hitchcock fan, they�re required viewing and you won�t be disappointed in the movies themselves, and (c) at about $... a DVD, and with three or so of the discs containing a second, silent film (none of the silents stand alone on a DVD) and two of the discs containing an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (in probably the worst condition you�ve ever seen them, especially if you�ve been spoiled by the Universal-released episodes), they�re a tremendous bargain.
Note, these aren�t all of Hitchcock�s early movies. Several, such as Champagne and Juno and the Paycock, aren�t out on DVD at all. Also note that these aren�t all mystery/suspense films. The Farmer�s Wife is a comedy, The Ring is a boxing/love story, Easy Virtue, Skin Game, and The Manxman are melodramas, and Jamaica Inn is a period piece. But it�s neat to finish one of these and then watch, say, The 39 Steps and see an early glimpse into the director Hitch would later become.
One painful caveat: The Farmer�s Wife, a silent comedy, was quite entertaining, but it was also nearly an hour longer than its 97-minute listed running time. Everytime I thought the farmer would finally choose a wife, another plot twist came up. After 2+ hours I started to consider hitting the FF button. I read somewhere that it�s a common error in silent films to have them run at the wrong speed--unfortunately this one runs too slow. If you can forego the music, I�d consider watching it in a slight fast forward mode!
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