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Early Hitchcock boxset from Lionsgate

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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Haggai



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Posted January 10 2007 - 07:03 AM

OK, why have I only just now heard of this, from a different thread about the MGM Lean and Hitchcock boxsets that never happened?

Lionsgate will formally kick off its Studio Canal catalog deal with the Feb. 6 release of the Hitchcock Box Set.

The studio scored 2,000 Studio Canal films in a multi-year pact in July and has been eager to diversify its offerings with classic content. Lionsgate has been best known for edgy film fare, such as its Saw franchise.

Hitchcock (prebook Jan. 10; DVD $39.98) contains six of the earlier works by mystery guru director Alfred Hitchcock. Included films, which have not yet been released as a collection, are The Ring, The Manxman, Murder!, The Skin Game and Rich and Strange.

A few questions:

-- That's only five movies, not six. Maybe the "six" is a mistake.

-- These are the first non-public-domain R1 releases of these movies, right? I watched the Turner Classic Movies broadcast of the '34 Man Who Knew Too Much last year (or maybe it was in late '05), and it looked very good. It had the Studio Canal logo at the beginning.

-- Has this been a secret, or am I just out to lunch? I don't remember seeing any HTF threads about it, or any announcements on DVDTimes, DVDActive, Digital Bits, etc.

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   PaulP



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Posted January 10 2007 - 07:35 AM

It's been announced a while ago, with artwork too. I guess you just missed it. Not that there was much fanfare.

There will be a better edition out in R2, though. For starters, the R1 set is 3 discs for 5 (or 6?) movies, whereas the R2 is 9 discs for 9 movies.

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Jay Gregory

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Posted February 04 2007 - 06:20 AM

Predictably, the writer of LA Times piece on this set doesn't really do much analysis of the quality of the presentations themselves. I've yet to see a post on any board from someone who's actually viewed the disks.

I'd like to know if the Lionsgate version is of similar quality to the Les Premières uvres sets, or if I should order the Optimum set. (Presumably shoddy PAL->NTSC conversion would be the culprit if the Lionsgate set is inferior.)

I'm not only interested in this set, but a quality product might put misgivings about the upcoming Renoir set to rest.

Hopefully, Dave Kehr will weigh in on the quality of the disks themselves on Tuesday.

#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Neal K

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Posted February 06 2007 - 02:23 AM

I made those comments about the sound on the French DVD issues. I don't believe the Pagnol set was done by the same people, but THAT set is by far, more irritating than what is on the Hitchcock sets, as it is a constant barrage of additional sound effects. I still would prefer not to see this happen, or to at least give the option of an untouched track. It bothers me that there might be an attitude from certain restorationists that critics won't catch this sort of thing, or indeed, remark that the soundtrack has better fidelity (Criterion STILL have Alexander Nevsky issued in a version with disfiguring alterations to the soundtrack, and have never acknowledged their mistake or alterations........probably because they didn't realize it, and now they have no way to get the original track from their source!).

Having said all that, these editions are SO far superior to things like Delta's PD crap (and that is the cream of the "crap"), that I would say don't let this blemish keep you from enjoying the otherwise exemplary restorations!

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   Jeffrey Nelson

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Posted February 06 2007 - 08:01 AM

I want SABOTAGE restored on R1 DVD. Will it ever happen?

#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted February 07 2007 - 01:59 PM

Did anyone pick this up? I'm itching to get this, but I'm wary about them being bad PAL-to-NTSC conversions.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   rich_d



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Posted February 07 2007 - 03:03 PM

Originally Posted by Patrick McCart
Did anyone pick this up? I'm itching to get this, but I'm wary about them being bad PAL-to-NTSC conversions.

That and is the film the actual film length or PAL length.

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   Vincent-P


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Posted February 07 2007 - 03:43 PM

If the times on the back of the box are to be belived, they are not PAL conversions. All times listed are the correct 4% longer than the times listed for the PAL discs on DVD Beaver. So what we need is someone to confirm the running times.

#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted February 08 2007 - 05:55 AM

I haven't had time to check the transfers from start to finish but they appear to be VERY good. I also haven't seen the other versions but having seen these films via various PD versions, there's no doubt these are major upgrades.

Again, I haven't viewed the films from start to finish but here are the exact running times:

The Manxman: 1:23:30
The Ring: 1:29:36
Murder: 1:42:08
Skin Game: 1:22:18
Rich and Strange: 1:23:12

Just a side note but my screener (original packaging, discs) had two floaters so be careful.

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Vincent-P


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Posted February 08 2007 - 08:40 AM

Did you accidentally switch the running times for The Ring & The Manxman? Because your time for The Manxman doesn't match up with DVDBeaver's & it is really way too long for what it should be, whereas it is what the correct running time for The Ring should be. Beaver shows 1:23:27 for The Manxman.

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted February 08 2007 - 01:47 PM

Oops, that's my bad. You're correct Vincent regarding the switched times. I'll go back and fix the post.

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   seanOhara


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Posted February 08 2007 - 03:27 PM

Are these double sided discs?
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#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Jay*W


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Posted February 08 2007 - 04:15 PM

Originally Posted by seanOhara
Are these double sided discs?

No, they are not.


#14 of 34 OFFLINE   rich_d



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Posted February 09 2007 - 12:21 PM

Regarding Murder! this is something that was posted to a Hitchcock group that I belong to.

An almost wonderful 3-disc DVD set has just been released in the US from Lionsgate, which includes five of Hitch's early films: "The Ring," "The Manxman," "The Skin Game," "Murder!," and "Rich and Strange."

I haven't had time to view them all, and what I've seen of four of them looks and sounds great - however, a friend called me and asked what was up with "Murder!", which I hadn't gotten to yet. He told me that foley (sound effects) had been digitally added.

So, I put it on and started listening. By the time Ducie and Miss Mitchum were making tea and walking from room to room, the new sound effects were severely noticeable, though not as noticeable without my digital speakers. But then, since I was second-guessing my memory, I pulled out the Laserlight edition, cued it up in the other machine, and started doing a comparison. And now I'm really mad!

What "they've" done is cleaned up the soundtrack digitally, which includes removing all of the sound splice noises that have (presumably) been there since the film was made!! (And they even have a documentary that TALKS about those splice noises being there because they couldn't mix in those days, etc etc etc). So the foley is just an insult to an injury.

The picture does indeed look amazing - except in the dissolves. It's as if they used some automatic visual restoration program that doesn't know how to handle dissolves. Or they had someone do it by hand who wouldn't or couldn't take the time to do the dissolves.

There's a line of dialogue (which is also a flubbed line: "Find out what time Fane is -- goes on tonight!") that has always been out of synch with the picture - they fixed that. I suppose that's a good thing, but I always rather liked that Herbert Marshall starts speaking and nothing comes out.

And last but not least, of the last 3 scenes that end the picture, the first two are missing! They are each short and just one shot: Diana Baring leaving the prison gates, and then Diana and Sir John in the car together, with his line "...you must save those tears - for my new play."

It's very annoying that the best looking print I've ever seen of "Murder!" on home video, combined with the clearest sound restoration (I've understood lines I never could make out before) also has these unneccesary and, in my opinion, damaging "enhancements." It's both the best and worst that could happen to an historically important early talkie.

Nothing on the box or on the DVDs mention this or give credit (blame?) to anyone. Does anyone out there know how all this came to be?

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Nathan Phillips

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Posted February 10 2007 - 05:09 AM

For the record, I believe that the missing scenes from Murder! were only added for U.S. prints of the film. I could, however, easily be wrong about that.

Okay, I have a question for those who have this set. I'm doing my monthly DVD order next week and I can't decide whether to buy this. I own every Hitchcock film that's available on R1 DVD, and Hitch is the one reason I'm considering going multi-region in the future (the French Downhill and Waltzes would almost complete my collection). My copies of the British films -- aside from the two Criterions -- are Laserlight's and Brentwood's. And while the Laserlight prints are obviously muddy, I found them quite watchable, The Lodger and The Skin Game being the only ones I considered unacceptable.

If this Lionsgate set consisted of films I loved more, I would pick it up without hesitation. But I don't really need another copy of these silents or Skin Game. And as for Murder!, the sound effect problem bugs me and I really want a DVD released that also includes the German version, "Mary". However, I consider Rich & Strange an early masterpiece and it would probably justify the whole set for me if the A/V improvement is significant enough.

So is the improvement so substantial that the purchase would be justified for someone who isn't significantly unhappy with the existing DVDs?

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted February 10 2007 - 06:15 AM

I have the following region 2 discs:
Blackmail (1929)(2 discs) [PAL from Germany]
Downhill (1927) [PAL from Germany]
The Lady Vanishes (1938) [PAL from Germany] [superior transfer]
The Lodger (1927) [PAL from Germany]
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) [PAL from Germany]
Murder (1930) [PAL from France]
Number 17 (1932) [PAL from France]
Sabotage (1936) [PAL from Germany]
Secret Agent (1936) [PAL from Germany]
The Skin Game (1931) [PAL from France]
Young and Innocent (1938) [PAL from Germany]

I believe I read somewhere that the French and German releases are the same transfer, but is the French release of MURDER also effected by this sound issue? Are the films in this new US release comparable to the foriegn releases I already have - or better? I'd like to get them in region 1 NTSC if so just so that I can let friends borrow them, play them on other machines, etc.

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted February 10 2007 - 08:22 AM

Originally Posted by Nathan Phillips
For the record, I believe that the missing scenes from Murder! were only added for U.S. prints of the film. I could, however, easily be wrong about that.

And you are--the U.S. version runs approximately 10 minutes shorter than the international version.
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#18 of 34 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted February 10 2007 - 08:45 AM

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#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Neal K

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Posted February 12 2007 - 05:45 AM

The French dvds DO contain the sound alterations, that's (and the TCM airing) where I picked up on this issue.

I do agree this is NOT the way they should be issued, however, to simply remove sonic bumps from edit points is certainly not in the same category. Surely, these are not desirable artifacts, but simply a result of the limits of editing sound film at the time.

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   DavePattern


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Posted February 12 2007 - 10:54 PM

I've just ripped the audio tracks from both the Laserlight/Delta and Studio Canal "Murder!" DVDs and I honestly can't detect any added Foley effects.

You can listen to a comparison of the "tea scene" by downloading this MP3 file (5.34MB): tea.mp3

The left channel contains the Laserlight/Delta audio and the right channel contains the Studio Canal. Both channels have been normalised to 100%, and the Studio Canal (right) lags slightly behind.

You can see a visual comparison in these two images (click to view larger versions):

Posted Image

Posted Image

The second image (spectral frequency analysis) clearly shows the how much noise has been removed by the audio restoration.

The "tea scene" ends with a clock ringing out the hour (although the time shown looks to be 6:08!). Following this, the Studio Canal audio clearly has the sound of distant traffic (which ends with curtain rising at the theatre). The traffic sound is inaudible against the background hiss/noise in the Laserlight/Delta audio, but the spectral analysis indicates that it is there (although extremely faint). I'm guessing that the traffic sound was lost during the multiple format conversions that the US DVD has undergone (i.e. reduction print to video, then video to DVD), all of which will have degraded the original audio track.

The relative amplitude of the Foley noises when compared to the spoken dialogue is roughly the same in both audio tracks. However, in the Studio Canal version, the Foley noises stand out more than they do in the Laserlight/Delta as the background noise/hiss has been removed. I think this is the only reason why they seem louder in the restored audio track.

As a final comparison, here's a version in which I've attempted to remove background hiss/noise from the Laserlight/Delta audio: tea2.mp3

The dissolves in the first 10 minutes of the film appear to be identical in both versions -- if anyone can point to specific examples, then I'll do a comparison.

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