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Excellent Package!! Fast Delivery!! Personal thoughts on each film,
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This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection (DVD)
First of all, I want to thank Amazon for the fast delivery of my package, it arrived before the estimate dates (June 14-July 2) and in mint condition. Being a film student, my first Hitchcock movie was Psycho and I absolutely loved it. It's one of my all-time favorites. Then I saw the excellent The Birds and the good Rope. Watching only this three films, I realized I need to see more Hitchcock films including the best of him (Vertigo, Rear Window, etc.) My grandpa bought this set for me and has been the best birthday present ever!!! It has 14 films digitally remastered and a bonus disc. I read a lot of reviews complaining the quality of The Man that Knew Too Much but it look good to me (perhaps this is because I did not had the previous edition which is supposed to have a better transfer). I have yet to see all films and the bonus material (and that will take a while) and after that I will update this review with my personal thoughts of each film.
For the moment, I have to recommend this set to everyone who loves Hitchcock or suspense. Excellent boxset with high quality transfers and lots of bonus material. 5 stars.
Personal Thoughts on each film:
Saboteur- 4 stars:
This wartime suspense drama is really enjoyable but does not achieve great hights as other Hitchcock films. Packed with many of the director's trademarks (wrong man accused, etc.) there's plenty of thrills to find here. There's a great amount of suspense that unfortunately get overlooked sometimes because of long dialogues and speeches. Being made during WWII, patriotic values crowd the picture. Robert Cummings is not spectacular as Barry Kane but it's not terrible either. Pricilla Lane is more enjoyable as is the supporting cast on both sides. While the picture suffers for some unnecessary scenes, all is forgiven when the awesome third act comes. The spectacular Statue of Liberty scene is worth the whole picture. Thrilling and suspensful as any Hitchcock film.
Saboteur is enjoyable and has some fantastic scenes (especially the at the end), but suffers from unnecessary dialogue and scenes that drag the picture too long. A good if unspectacular Hitchcock movie.
Picture is good and satisfying. Some minor grain and artifacts come and go throught the picture, but being a 60 plus year old film, it looks really good.
No complaints. Unspectacular but clear.
Terrific and insightful Documentary- Saboteur: A Closer Look.
Shadow of a Doubt- 5 stars
Here is an example of a true Hitchcock Masterpiece. This underrated classic is the reason why Hitch is called "The Master of Suspense". A great movie packed with suspense, witty dialogue and great performances from all the cast, makes Shadow a really pleasant experience. Beginning in a simple, happy way, the film goes down taking us and our most horrible fears as it progresses, making us witnesses of the horror that can be inflicted in a little and quiet town. A fantastic nail-biter, no scene is gratious as each one adds to the film suspensful plot. Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten shine as the two leads making this film a must see for any Hitchcock fan. Definetively a masterpiece.
As with Saboteur, is satisfying but some grain and artifacts come and go thoroughout it. But, for a film this age it looks good.
Excellent Documentary- Beyond Doubt: The Making of Hitchcok's favorite film.
Rope- 4.5 Stars
A "failed" experiment, like Hitchcock used to say, Rope nontheless is an enjoyable picture that delivers suspense with humor (as usual in a Hitchcok film). One of the highlights of the film is the cast. John Dall and Farley Granger are really effective as the two murderers and Jimmy Stewart is great as their suspicious professor. Again as with Saboteur, excess of dialogue prevents the film to be greater but you will find yourself completely taken by the suspensful plot. Another highlight is the limited environment in which the movie plays (an apartment- pretty much like Rear Window) because it concentrates all the drama and the suspense in one single spot which I found it very effective. Aside from the long takes experiment, Rope also was an experiment in the way that it delt with homosexuality in a sophisticated way, a way that censors of the time failed to see. Rope may not be an instant Hitchcock classic, but it sure will make yourself chop off your nails wondering how it will finish.
The first Hitchcock film in color, Rope looks great in this new transfer. Some minor grain comes and goes but that is not a distraction at all. Great picture quality.
No complaints. Unspectacular but fine.
Insightful and great documentary- Rope Unleashed
Rear Window- 5 Stars
Here was the film I was looking forward to see since I receive this boxset. Rear Window is said to be one of Hitchcok's great masterpieces and is absolutely right. On the risk that I might sound repepitive, this picture is now one of my all-time favorites due to the great artistry in it. Masterfully directed by Hitch and wonderfully acted by Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly and the supporting cast, Rear Window shows vouyerism at its peak. Balancing (as always) humor with suspense, this picture delivers great performances with great dialogue and unforgettable moments. You'll be sweating and your heart will be pounding really hard throughout the film. But after it, you will be smiling because you know you just saw an excellent film. MASTERPIECE.
Rear Window looks really good here but still is not a complete clean transfer. Some grain comes and goes but that will be the least of your problems while you're watching it.
Sound- 3 Stars
Unimpressive but again not a problem.
Wonderful Documentary-Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary.
An interview with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes (great interview)
The Trouble with Harry- 4.5 Stars
Here is a picture that seems completely different from a Hitchcock movie. Harry is a comedy (dark) that somewhat feels light in comparison to other Hitch films. So, if you expect tons of suspense and action, don't expect too much. Harry is one of the most relaxing Hitchcock films where you can sit and enjoy without having a heart attack. The cast does not have big names (Shirley MacLaine was not a big name at that time) but serves the film's purpose well and everyone do a fine performance. Vermont scenery is really beautiful and really adds to the film value.
What you can expect, is tons of dark humor that is delivered in a very sophisticated and subtle way. I assure you, you will be smiling throughout the film. A nice lighthearted film.
Harry looks impressive in its vistavision remasterized transfer. Almost no artifacts or grain. Excellent quality.
Sound- 3.5 Stars
Unimpressive but Bernard Herrmann score is really cool and adds a bit to the overall quality. No issues.
Great Documentary- The Trouble with Harry isn't over
The Man Who Knew Too Much- 5 Stars
Another Hithchcock classic. I've never seen the 1934 version but this remake is a wonderful picture. I have to say that is an epic movie filmed in many countries and you can see the big budget it had. Again, a wonderful James Stewart is the lead sharing the screen this time with Doris Day. It's the first time I've seen her acting and I must tell you, she is wonderful here. The sceneries are beautiful and the plot will make you be at the edge of your seat all the time. The wonderful song Que sera, sera is an excellent addition to the film and Doris delivered it in a masterful performance. Following the footsteps of Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much is Hitchcock at his best.
I think this transfer was pretty solid. Many complaints about the quality of the picture can be seen in this site, claiming that the previous DVD had a better transfer. While I do not have the previous DVD, I can say that mine looked pretty good, just some minor grain and even less artifacts. I think is a solid transfer overall.
Unspectacular as with the other ones. Herrmann score is excellent nontheless. No complaints.
Excellent Documentary- The Making of The Man Who Knew Too Much
Vertigo- 5 Stars
Mixed response greeted Vertigo in 1958. Since then, the film has crawled its way to the top and now its being considered Hitchcock masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made. Watching the film for the first time, I can truly said that all the praise is not unfounded. Vertigo is a masterful work that shows Hitch's potential in a 100%. Its plot is much heavier than previous films and is filmed in a grim tone, almost depressing. That really adds to the film's meaning. James Stewart gives here what I consider now, his finest performance as an investigador consumed by obsession. Kim Novak is absolutely stunning in a complex dual role. I don't think Vera Miles could achieve this type of performance. Novak is brilliant. Locations are fantastic as are the details in every single thing in the picture. The score by Bernard Herrmann is so powerful and engulfing, you will be remembering it after the movie ended. I think is his second best score (Psycho will always be first). Vertigo is not a grand scale film like The Man Who Knew Too Much but it is much more powerful and personal that you will want it to see it several times. A crowning achievement and a masterful film.
Excellent quality transfer with minor grain and artifacts.
Presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital Sound, Vertigo is a joy to hear especially with an excellent Herrmann score in it. It has also the original 2.0 monotrack.
Excellent although a little dated documentary- Obsessed with Vertigo
Audio Comentary with the Restoration Team and Producer (I'm not into audiocomentaries, but for the ones that are, it will be a thrill)
The Vertigo Archives
Psycho- 5 Stars
What can I say about Psycho that haven't been said before? It's a landmark, fantastic, horrifying film. It's my Hitchcock favorite and seeing recently again it has been a plesure in this new remasterized transfer. Psycho is pure Hitchcock but at the same time is a departure from his usual themes and trademarks that has caracterized his previous films. Here we don't have a passionate story filled with glamour and big budget chases. No, Psycho is a low budget wonderful film that explores the complex layers of the human mind. It's a very unsettling story of love, murder, madness and more. Prepare to be chilled to the bone. The cast is terrific particularly Anthony Perkins as the serious transtornated Norman Bates. Herrmann's score is his best and one of the best of all time. This movie shows how some of the finest crew in the world was at the peak of its game and delivered a masterpiece. Hitchcock's best.
Video- 3.5 Stars
When I first saw Psycho, was in a very old fulscreen transfer. Watching it again in this anamorphic transfer with rematerized quality, it's like seeing it for the very first time. It's a pretty solid transfer despite some minor grain and artifacts.
Sound- 4 Stars
Though is a 2.0 monotrack, Herrmann powerful score sound terrific here. Dialogue is also crisp and clear.
Extras- 5 Stars
Fantastic Documentary- The Making of Psycho (this documentary is in the Bonus Material Disc)
The Psycho Archives
The Shower Scene
Psycho Release: Newsreel Footage
The Birds- 5 Stars
This chilling story about nature's revenge is still one of the best horror films of all time. Similar to Psycho's tone, The birds is one of the most (if not the most) unsettling Hitchcock film. The clever story is presented as a romantic comedy when, without explanation, it turns to be a dark, scary one. The technical achievement that Hitch and its crew achieve in this film is superb. Dealing with real live birds and lacking the modern technology that we enjoy, they had to figure out how to do a believable plot. And they succeed in every ground. The lack of a score is really effective in setting the dark mood. The birds in the film are not mere animals, they are fully embodied characters that can think and prepare a full scale attack against humanity. The cast is nothing extraordinary but they serve the film's purpose. The Birds is one of Hitchcock's finest and most scary films. Alongside with Psycho, is a movie that will make you jump off your seat several times. Once you see this film, you will never see birds the same way.
Video- 4.5 Stars
The Birds looks spectacular in this new transfer. Some minor grain appears occassionally.
It's a 2.0 monotrack but the birds cries sound really real. Dialogue is crisp and clear.
Extras- 5 Stars
Fantastic Documentary- All About the Birds (located in the Bonus Disc)
Tippi Hedren Screen Tests
The Birds is Coming-featurette
Universal Promotional Newsreel
Marnie- 4 Stars
Marnie reunites Hitchock with his Birds star and discovery Tippi Hedren. She does a really good performance as the sexually repressed and traumatized Marnie. It's a far more complex character than Melanie Daniels and she acts it brilliantly. Sean Connery is also good as Mark, his caring but somewaht obsessed husband. Marnie offers you suspense, romance but at the end is a psychological thriller and is a really good one. Herrmann score as in very Hitchcock film is brilliant. What prevents it to be greater, I think is the excess of explanation in the plot and that does not offer shocking moments like Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds. Still is a really good Hitchcock film and it's worth a look.
Video- 4.5 Stars
Excellent transfer with minor grain and some artifacts.
Sound- 4 Stars
2.0 monotrack, unimpressive but crystal clear.
Extras- 5 Stars
Nice and (surprinsingly) lengthy documentary- The Trouble with Marnie
The Marnie Archives
Torn Curtain- 3 Stars
Torn Curtain has the reputation for being one of the lesser efforts by Hitchcock. After watching it, I have to say that is not completely true. Sure, Curtain is nothing compared to previous Hitchcock classics such as Rear Window, Vertigo or Psycho. But still, it manages to offer mild entertainment and suspense. Unfortunately many problems plague the picture. First, in this film Hitchcock lost many men of his usual crew with whom he delivered masterpieces. His cameraman and editor died and Bernard Herrmann was fired because Universal and Hitch wanted a more "comercial" soundtrack. I think that was a huge mistake. Herrmann had proven himself as one of the greatest composers and he had delivered excellent scores in all his Hitchcock film (The Trouble with Harry-Marnie). Firing him was the first of many mistakes with the movie. Other flaws are the characters and plot. The movie begins very slow and little suspense is shown. The first and second acts are rather dull (the murder scene is the only standout here) and makes you lost interest in the film. The third act is by far the best and here you can see that this film is pure Hitchcock. With suspense all over and chases thoughout Europe, here is where the film really rewards the viewers. I think Paul Newman and Julie Andrews are both wonderful actors but here is like they weren't trying too hard. That or the characters were very flat that they couldn't work with. Gone is the chemistry between the two leads that has been a characteristic in many Hitchcock film (Grace Kelly-James Stewart, Doris Day-James Stewart, and more). Andrews and Newman are not able to project chemistry with their performances and they seem uncomfortable between them. Nevertheless, putting aside all this negative aspects, Torn Curtain is not a completely terrible film. In fact, is rather enjoyable if you see past this shortcomings. At least is better than many other films out there and you should be pleased. But not as pleased as watching other Hitchcock films.
Torn Curtain looks impresive in this transfer. Only minor grain is noticeable in some scenes. Great picture quality.
2.0 unimpressive monotrack. John Addison score is not terrible but it's not Herrmann. Nontheless dialogue is always crisp and clear without any background noises.
Extras- 5 Stars
Informartive Documentary- Torn Curtain Rising
Herrmann's Score in some scenes (great)
Topaz- 3.5 Stars
The 60's saw the peak and the "decline" of the Master of Suspense. Although his so called "decline" was merely from Outstanding and Excellent to Very Good. Since Marnie (which I actually enjoyed), Hitch wasn't able to connect with critics and audiences. Topaz came after the good but not great Torn Curtain and unfortunately followed that pattern (although I enjoyed this one slightly more than Curtain). Topaz is a spy thriller and the premise is a good one. Unfortunately the movie has some problems. First, the length. Running for almost 2 and a half hours, the film is too long for its own good. Many unecessary scenes and dialogue is present here. Another (minor) issue is the lack of well-known stars (many which worked with Hitch before) and that makes it more difficult to root for unknown actors. The overall acting is good but nothing extraordinary. Many loose ends plague the film, like both the husband and wife infidelities and how they happily return to each other at the end. That takes credibility from the film as does that all the "cuban" speak always in perfect english and not only with foreigners but between them when Spanish is their official language . Still, with this shortcomings, the picture has a lot of Hitchcock trademarks and many beautifully elaborate scenes (the best from Cuba). Suspense comes and goes but it will entertain you the whole picture. The ending is the most troubling issue. Filming three endings for the film, I have to say that after watching all three, none of them are completely satisfactory in wrapping up the whole picture. Still as Leonard Maltin says, second-rate Hitchcock is better than first-rate of almost everything out there. Topaz is not an instant Hitchcock classic but like every single picture of him it will entertain you (just don't expect great entertainment).
Video- 4 Stars
Topaz looks great in this transfer although some grain and artifacts are noticeable in some scenes.
Sound- 3.5 Stars
Unimpressive but clean and clear
Extras- 5 Stars
Informative Documentary- Topaz: An appreciation by Film Critic Leonard Maltin
Storyboard- The Mendozas
Frenzy- 5 Stars
Here is where Hitch demonstrated everyone that he was still at the top of his game. Frenzy came after the good but slighlty dissapointings Torn Curtain and Topaz. Set in London, Frenzy is a return to the macabre that Hitchcock knew so well and that he did not applied in any feature film since The Birds. But if the Birds was unsettling and graphic, Frenzy is much more graphic than any Hitchcock movie. Here you will find an explicit rape and strangling scene, corpes, nudity and more. No wonder is rated R, but this does not mean is lots of fun. Full of suspense and dark humor, Frenzy is a perfectly balanced story where you will laugh, horrorized and be at the edge of your seat. Here we also have lack of stars but the actors perform their roles extraordinarily well. Frenzy is one instant Hitch classic that deserve to be up there where his classic films are. Excellent film.
Video- 4 Stars
Great transfer with minor grain and artifacts
Sound- 3. Stars
Unimpressive but clear
Extras- 5 Stars
Excellent Documentary- The Story of Frenzy
Family Plot- 4.5 Stars
Family plot is the last film Hitchcock directed and I must say is a really good one. It centers the story in four characters, all of them schemers but two of them use more extreme methods than the others to accomplish what they want. Family Plot is related to The Trouble with Harry, not in plot or characters but because maybe it uses dark comedy in an excellent way, pretty much like Harry. Suspense is present (as always) but it does not overflows the picture like previous entries. As Harry, Family Plot is lighthearted with some scenes that show peril. Performances here are brilliant, specially Barbara Harris as the delightful fake medium Blanche Tyler. She is the star of the film and makes it a fully enjoyable experience. Family Plot is a nice farewell from the Master of Suspense. Great film.
Video- 3.5 Stars
Surprinsigly for Hitchcok's last film, Plot look a lot more grainier than the other films , still most of the time is clean and the grain is not a distraction.
Sound- 3.5 Stars
Unimpressive but clear
Extras- 5 Stars
Excellent Documentary- Plotting Family Plot
Storyboard: The Chase Scene
Bonus Disc- 5 Stars
Aside of the two great documentaries of Psycho and The Birds (Listed above), you have the AFI salute to Hitchcock and an interview with him called Masters of Cinema. Everything is great.
The velvet box is beautiful as are the four boxes that hold the discs (though they might be a little delicate). A collective book giving information about each film (it has little new information) is also included.
Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope and the Bonus Disc are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Fullscreen
Rear Window is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen enhanced for 16x9 TVs
All the others are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt and Psycho are in B&W
The rest is in color.
As you can see this Masterpiece Collection include great films and good films. Nonetheless all of them will entertain you and the new transfers and bonus material will please everyone. If you love Hitch, this is a fully recommended set. 5 Stars.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 20, 2010 12:14:27 PM PDT
Highly informative review. I wish all reviewers of DVDs were as thorough.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2010 12:47:52 PM PDT
Don Vito Corleone says:
Thank You very much.
Posted on Oct 19, 2010 5:57:32 AM PDT
In With The Classics! says:
Boy was it nice to read such a thoughtful review! I love films, especially the classics and I like to read how others interput them. I think the older films have so much to offer, with of course Hitchcock being among the very best, especially to one studying film. Your grandpa was right on the mark for giving you this set. Thanks again!
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