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Great Films with Hi-Def Transfers That Vary Considerably in Quality,
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This review is from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] (2012) (Blu-ray)
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)
Seven of the transfers are acceptable high definition upgrades from their previous standard def releases:
2. Shadow of a Doubt
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
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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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 21, 2012, 6:57:33 PM PST
Wayne Klein says:
What in the heck is a "sand filter"?
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012, 7:08:41 PM PST
William McKeldin Jr. says:
There is no such thing... but if there were, it's use would yield a result similar to the look of FAMILY PLOT in the Universal Hitchcock blu-ray set.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012, 4:50:14 PM PST
Wayne Klein says:
Thought I was losing my mind...LOL. I quite agree about Family Plot.
Posted on Oct 18, 2013, 4:51:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2013, 4:54:36 AM PDT
Not your fault, but it's hard to know who to believe about the 'The Birds' transfer here, with such widely disparate opinions as to its quality and faithfulness....if the HD clips I've seen are any indication then I'm inclined to trust your perspective that it is reprehensible what they've done to it.
I've seen 'The Birds' no less than 9 times in very good 35mm prints just in the last two decades, and have never had any serious problems with the old fashioned process shots or special effects. I think I have a clear enough idea by now what the movie is supposed to look like.
So it's with more than a little trepidation that I weigh the risk of wasting money on a transfer that could well drive me through the roof in anger.
This is a movie I put in the highest regard for its kind. It saddens me to think it's getting shabby treatment in video reproductions still.
Posted on Oct 21, 2013, 11:58:13 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2013, 12:51:29 PM PDT
Ron Hardcastle says:
William: Excellent! And very helpful. With your permission, I would like to add the above to a discussion about this collection at FSM (FILM SCORE MONTHLY) in their non-soundtrack forum, and I'll attribute your words to YOU. Okay?
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2013, 4:43:37 PM PDT
William McKeldin Jr. says:
That's fine... (and very flattering!)
Posted on Jun 29, 2014, 12:42:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 29, 2014, 1:08:09 AM PDT
Terrific review, passionately detailed and informed, though sometimes I wonder about our memory of color--how a film looked to us when we first saw the theatrical screening and how reliable that memory is?
And the whole notion of "high definition" when film, if you take a detached look in the movie theater, is really basically a soft-focus experience. I know when I saw "No Country for Old Men" in the local multiplex it looked nothing like my blu-ray version of it (conveniently ignoring the reliability of memory question I've just raised)--much "softer" and busier with grain on the screen, despite Miramax's assurance that I'd been extraordinarily wise to buy their blu-ray version of "No Country for Old Men" and "Bring Home The Ultimate High Definition Experience." Which is what? Did I bring home the Coen brothers' movie or something almost like it? Or something, visually, not at all like it? Maybe it's time to just admit that there are too many variables to talk with any certainty about fidelity when comparing the various ways to duplicate our experience of the theatrical release of a movie? Maybe they're simply two very different things--the "theater" experience & the "home theater" experience. I also wonder, being among the roughly 7% of the male population that's red/green color blind, what all this adds up to for us? We're pretty much the last minority to get any recognition/attention--whether it's film "restoration," traffic lights, food preparation, hi-fi equipment, computer equipment, does my Shuffle need to be re-charged, or is my electric lawn mower fully ready to mow? Not asking for sympathy here, just pointing out a variable that's rarely part of the "fidelity" debate. Sorry, I know--too many cans of worms opened here.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2015, 2:05:18 AM PST
I saw many of these at UCLA's film school, from extraordinarily high-quality prints. One of the professors there was Robert Rosenberg, since famous for his film preservation efforts at UCLA, Hitchcock films among them. I definitely know how these films ought to look from seeing them first-hand on the big screen, and I can tell you they were gorgeous and not befuddled with clumps of grain standing out. The blacks and whites were sharp, the grays and silvers silky smooth, and the colors brilliant without being glaring or unnatural. I particularly remember the dazzling colors in the view from Jimmy Stewart's apartment in Rear Window, and the dazzling fireworks from It Takes a Thief, and I don't just mean between Mr. Handsome Cary Grant and the otherworldly beauty Grace Kelly after we've seen the object of Grant's desire ... her lovely necklace, actually.
We often get DVD releases that do not measure up to the level of available prints, for whatever reason. Hitchcock films are not immune from this, though I've seen much worse elsewhere.
Thanks for the heads-up on what to expect visually. As time goes by, I'm reminded how lucky I was to have seen these films in pristine condition, the way they were meant to be seen, even decades after their release. But I am disappointed to find out that sometimes that quality isn't available any longer, or that those who could provide it do not care enough to do so.
Posted on Dec 26, 2015, 9:19:26 AM PST
Great review. Thanks very much. I am always amazed how some people have the ability to detect fine differences in video quality. I also often feel lucky that I have no such gift. Having grown up with constant fuzz from rabbit ears in the 70s, I can barely tell the difference between HD and non-HD. I'm sure the quality in these dvds will be just fine for me, even Family Plot.
Posted on Oct 23, 2016, 9:36:00 AM PDT
What appears to be the same boxed set was released in March 2016. Does anyone know if it IS indeed the same as the 2012 release? And if not, can anyone speak to the differences? Thank you!