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Customer Review

192 of 215 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion DVD reviewed, October 19, 2001
This review is from: Notorious (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The video transfer of new Criterion DVD version of NOTORIOUS is a bit sharper, more detailed, and has better contrast than that of the Anchor Bay DVD version released in 1999. Unfortunately, it also reveals a lot more film grains. The graininess is not noticeable in most parts of the film unless a direct comparision with Anchor Bay's transfer is made. But in a few scenes, the graininess just cannot be ignored, and could be detrimental to one's viewing pleasure. In spite of that, in my opinion the increased detail and sharpness of Criterion's transfer is still preferrable to Anchor Bay's comparatively softer and darker picture.
Regarding audio, it is no contest. Criterion's mono 1.0 sound has MUCH greater clarity, depth, details, volume than Anchor Bay's comparatively muted and muffled soundtrack. In addition, the Criterion disc also includes optional English subtitles while Anchor Bay's does not.
The Criterion DVD retains all of the supplementary material from their own CAV laserdisc version from 1991, and it adds some more...
There are two excellent audio commentary tracks. One is by Marian Keane, and it deals straight with the artistic aspects of the film by providing scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot dissertations. Commentaries like this are rare, and it is most beneficial to average viewers who want to learn more about the purposes and intentions behind every shot, every cut, every line. For instance, in a seemingly ordinary shot of a grandfather clock inside the Sebastian home, Keene analyzes the composition by pointing out the phallic symbol of the clock that suggests Alex's presence, the adjacent banister that reminds us of his mother, and the flower at the window that suggests the vulnerability of Alicia. Another commentary track, by Rudy Behlmer, was recorded for the laserdisc version, and it is the more common type of commentary, in which the commentator recounts the production's history, the logistical aspects, sypnoses of the lives and careers of the filmmakers, a few anecdotes. Behlmer mentions something omitted by Keane -- Roy Webb's music (which is given a separate audio track on the DVD). At one point, he explains how the RKO Radio Picture logo was removed from the opening credits; but he refers only to the laserdisc version. This DVD version, however, restores the RKO logo.
Other extras include an all-too-brief excerpt of the short story "The Song of the Dragon" which inspired the film. There are about 40 production stills, mostly of Hitchcock, Cary Grant, and Ingrid Bergman. There is a section that explains how the many rear projection shots were done (some of the shots are quite seamless). There are a few production correspondences written by David O. Selznick, Bergman, and even FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover in response to the film's treatment of special agents. There are 4 theatrical trailers and short teasers. There is a one-minute newsreel footage of Hitchcock and Bergman arriving in England. There are script excerpts of 5 deleted scenes, and 3 alternate endings in which one or more of the four main characters get wounded or killed on screen. In a moving segment called "The Fate of the Unica Key", Marian Keane speaks on an audio track about how Bergman, during AFI's Lifetime Award ceremony for Hitchcock, handed the Unica key to the director as a token of love and respect (unfortunately, no footage of the AFI telecast is included). Last, but not least, there is a one-hour radioplay version of the film, in excellent audio quality, recorded in 1948, starring Joseph Cotten as Devlin and Bergman again as Alicia (the laserdisc version only has a 15-minute excerpt of the radioplay).
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 9, 2010 8:23:59 AM PST
Excellent review. Actually the footage you mention regarding the key being given back to Hitchcock is on the DVD I rented from Netflix for this film.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2010 11:32:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2013 8:55:28 AM PDT
keviny01 says:
Thanks. Marian Keane actually emailed me and thanked me for praising her commentary (which many criticized).

The Criterion disc does not have the AFI video footage of Hitchcock. I'm quite sure that you watched the footage on the bonus disc of "Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection" from Universal. It has 15 minutes of footage, doesn't it?

Here is Keane's email to me:

-----Original Message-----
From: Marian Keane []
Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2001 1:07 AM
Subject: notorious!

Dear Kevin,
This is a note of thanks for your careful, detailed, and thoughtful review of the Criterion DVD of Notorious. You are right--there are things I omit about the movie, partly because the other commentary addressed them, and partly because I am always squeezing in only some of what I have to say about every shot, composition, line of dialogue and cut, not to mention the "big picture" meanings of Hitchcock's work.

A word about the AFI Tribute: Criterion (Susan Arosteguy produced this one) tried to get the Tribute.
We wanted it SO BAD, but AFI wouldn't let it go apart from charging an outrageous amount of money. Why, I will never know. I have it on laser (and saw it "live"), but I think it's out of print, so to speak .
. .. You might think they'd be happy to see the piece have another life, but no. So we decided to tell the tale and match it, as best we could, with shots and stills etc.; settling for scraps, but telling the story, which is so wonderful.

Anyway, thanks again.
Best-Marian Keane

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2010 11:43:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 9, 2010 11:45:04 AM PST
Yes, I believe so. Netflix doesn't really label their disks well enough to make an accurate guess, but that sounds right. It's really quite cool to see it, very charming. I loved this film, never saw it before and I'm a Hitchcock fan, shame. I wrote a review, too. Oh, and there is also an audio track of Hitchcock himself discussing building a tower for the camera and zooming in on the key in the hand. Thanks for responding.

Posted on Sep 12, 2013 12:44:12 AM PDT
Dead says:
If film grain is detrimental to your enjoyment of a film, you should just stop watching films.

That's like saying the brush strokes might put you off a painting...

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2013 5:48:45 AM PDT
keviny01 says:
On *Blu-rays*, film grains can be beautiful to look at. But on DVDs they are often not. DVDs don't have the high resolution of Blu-ray to show the grains' fineness, and instead show them as thick globs.
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