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Hitchcock fans-help!


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48 replies to this topic

#1 of 49 John Stone

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Posted February 04 2002 - 05:31 AM

I've recently discovered the wonders of Hitchcock and I want to start adding Hitchcock films to my DVD collection. I've only seen a few of his movies so far, but I have a feeling that I'm eventually going to want most of his stuff that is available on DVD. With that in mind, I did some searching around and I was overwhelmed by how many Hitchcock releases and box sets there are out there. I'm just looking for some guidance so that I can build my Hitchcock collection as intelligently as possible (I don't want duplicate titles when I'm done) Posted Image Should I pick up some of the box sets, or should I stick with individual releases? Are the widescreen Hitchcock films all in their OAR and anamorphicaly enhanced, or are there some poor releases that I should stay away from? Any other suggestions? Thanks everyone!

#2 of 49 Matthew Todd

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Posted February 04 2002 - 05:48 AM

I'm not the greatest hitchcock fan here, (there's got to be some who are more avid than me) but I really do like his films. To get this started I would suggest that you pick up the criterion editions of Rebecca and Notorious. There are other versions out there, but these are the best. Some of my favorite titles are Vertigo and North by Northwest.

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#3 of 49 Brendon

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Posted February 04 2002 - 05:59 AM

In my most humble opinion, I'd consider the Criterion releases of The 39 Steps and The Lady vanishes mandatory. Likewise warner's release of North By Northwest (my fave Hitchcock!).

These are only available seperately as far as I am aware. Pick them up without hesitation!

Of the Universal discs, I'd highly recommend the discs of Psycho, Rear Window & Rope. Try renting some of the others before you decide on buying them as part of a boxset. I suspect however that once you start watching a few Hitchcock films you'll be wanting all of them. Even "minor" Hitchcock's, such as "I Believe", are wonderful little gems!

Now if Universal will only get around to releasing Foreign Correspondant and Suspicion....

Cheers,

Bren

#4 of 49 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted February 04 2002 - 06:00 AM

I'll go with broad categories here.

Universal

The majority of the American Hitchock films are distributed by Universal. Most are excellent, none are awful, and all feature interesting supplements. Vertigo & Psycho are the only two non-anamorphic titles that would have benefitted from enhancement, but they are excellent letterboxed transfers with great supplements, so why fret. They have four box sets, each with a unique collection of Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV episodes as a bonus disc. Unfortunately, if you buy all four sets, you will wind up having paid for Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (remake) twice each.

Criterion

All of the Criterion Hitchcock releases are stellar. They are great films with great transfers. You cannot go wrong.

Warner

Warner has only released two Hitchcock titles, but they are both dandies: Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest. Again, you cannot go wrong.

Anchor Bay

They released nice budget priced transfers of the four "Selznick" Hitchcock films. Criterion has already done SEs of Notorious and Rebecca and apparently will be doing Spellbound in the near future. The Criterion transfers to date reportedly have slightly more detail, but the Anchor Bays were still of high quality considering they were apparently not working with fully restored film elements. The fourth title is "The Paradine Case", which is considered one of Hitchcock's lesser efforts, but is well-transferred to DVD by Anchor Bay with no rumored SE plans.

Others

A lot of Hitchcock's British films are available from companies like Madacy and Laserlight in poor to mediocre presentations. Laserlight titles are ususally the best of the "Public Domain" Hitchcock titles except where Criterion has done them (39 Steps & Lady Vanishes)

Image released discs of some wartime propaganda films (Bon Voyage & Adventure Malgache) and, I believe, Jamaica Inn, but I have not seen them.

If I were starting a Hitchcock collection, the first ten discs I would recommend are:

Psycho (Universal)
Rear Window (Universal)
Shadow of a Doubt (Universal)
Vertigo (Univerasl)
Lady Vanishes (Criterion)
Notorious (Criterion)
Rebecca (Criterion)
39 Steps (Criterion)
North by Northwest (WB)
Strangers on a Train (WB)

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#5 of 49 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted February 04 2002 - 06:10 AM

Quote:
Now if Universal will only get around to releasing Foreign Correspondant and Suspicion....
Both of these titles are likely controlled by Warner, not Universal. Suspicion was an RKO film, but I am less certain about Foreign Correspondent.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#6 of 49 John Stone

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Posted February 04 2002 - 06:16 AM

That is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I really appreciate the advice.

Sounds like you are all pretty much in agreement, so I'm going to pick up the 10 titles that Ken summarized in his list, and Rope.

Thanks again for all the fast, informative replies! Posted Image

#7 of 49 Scott Merryfield

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Posted February 04 2002 - 06:40 AM

It's hard to add to what Ken said above (great post, Ken). However, one lesser known Hitchcock title that I really enjoy is The Trouble With Harry. This is Hitchcock's humor at its best, IMO.

Also, while Rope is an interesting film technically due to the use of a single set and very long takes between cuts, I think there are many other Hitchcock films that rank above this one in overall quality.

#8 of 49 Mitchell Kaufman

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Posted February 04 2002 - 07:10 AM

Parenthetically, I recently bought Frenzy, which I hadn't seen since I saw it theatrically at the time it was released. I hadn't remembered what a fantastic film this is. Hitchcock, who had been putting out stuff (Torn Curtain, Topaz, and yes, The Birds--note that I omit Marnie from this list, a film I like a lot) which did not compare favorably with his masterpieces, really made a comeback with this one. Nice transfer, too, though this was never one of the glossiest-looking Hitchcock entries.

The most beautiful of all the Hitchcock discs for me visually (and I've seen them all except for Family Plot and the Madacy and other cheapies) is the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Despite edge enhancement, this is a gorgeous disc. I think you have to add this to your list.

North by Northwest is one of those very clean, very sterile Lowry Digital jobs that seems to rob the film of grain, texture, and depth. I'm also not knocked out by the color, which I find a little on the pastel side. Others love this disc, so YMMV. Anyway, you need the film, and this is the best way to get it in the here and now.

Pscyho and Vertigo really need to be issued in anamorphic transfers.

Apropos of nothing, I recently caught Dial 'M' For Murder on cable. A major bore, I thought!

Oh, well. Nobody's perfect!

MK
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#9 of 49 Matt Butler

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Posted February 04 2002 - 07:39 AM

John, As mentioned; you gotta pick up Trouble with Harry. Its absolutely hilarious!!

Great posts BTW guys!

Matt
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#10 of 49 Mark Walker

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Posted February 04 2002 - 07:40 AM

John St-

From a general critical perspective,
The Birds is considered
the last EXCEPTIONAL film Hitchcock made.

So, any thing past that, is more of a
"die-hard" or completist thing for most people.

Personally, I'd put ten of Hitch's
DVD released works in the
following list from personal favorite to
least favorite
(saying that, even a "least favorite"
is better than most things.)

Rear Window
North By Northwest
Vertigo
Shadow of a Doubt
Nortorious
(get the Criterion version!)
Strangers on a Train
Psycho
The Birds
Rebecca
(get the Criterion version!)
The 39 Steps
(get the Criterion version!)

Hitchcock stated over and over, that he thought
that Shadow of a Doubt was his best film.

As for UNreleased titles on DVD that are "must haves"
when the are released:

Dial M For Murder
To Catch a Theif
Foreign Coresspondant
.


The "top ten" list I made has a smattering
of Hitch's early, but most his "high style" films
which, to most people, look the most like "Hitchcock films."

Rebecca, while being a great film, and
a fabulous Critierion DVD (the phone interview with
Joan Fontaine is terriffic!), Hitchcock never considered
it a "Hitchcock" film, per se. Kind of the way
Spartacus is not really thought of as
a "true" Kubrick film.


Some prefer his earlier works, to his high style.
Personally, I like them all, but love Hitch best
in full color.

Have Fun!

Mark

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#11 of 49 Scott Page

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Posted February 04 2002 - 07:42 AM

The Trouble With Harry was Hitchcock's favorite film. It's a gem; one of my favorite movies. Very funny black comedy. Not a thriller at all and very different that Hitchcock's other films. The trouble with Harry is of course that he's dead. That isn't a spoiler since you see the corpse during the opening credit roll.

Shirley McClain is wonderful in her role.

#12 of 49 GlennH

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Posted February 04 2002 - 07:48 AM

Quote:
I recently caught Dial 'M' For Murder on cable. A major bore, I thought!
To each his own, but I have to disagree with that assessment. Dial 'M' is a must-have when it finally gets released.

#13 of 49 Brendon

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Posted February 04 2002 - 08:01 AM

Ken,

I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad about Foreign Correspondant & Suspicion is they are RKO: the restorations being performed on the RKO Fred Astaire films sounds to be good, and if the same is applied to these two Hitchcocks, I would be a happy bunny indeed.

I suspect however that either they may take years before Warners see fit to release them, and/or if they do, they may be in a rather shabby state. (Just putting them out in the same fashion Strangers on a Train was would be good for the moment.)

Cheers,

Bren

#14 of 49 george kaplan

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Posted February 04 2002 - 08:22 AM

I think you've pretty much heard what you need to here, but I'll jump in anyway.

1) Avoid box sets

2) Buy Criterion whenever possible

3) Make sure to buy (in no particular order):

Rear Window
North By Northwest
Vertigo
Strangers on a Train
Rebecca
Notorious
Rope
The 39 Steps
The Lady Vanishes
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Birds
Marnie
Psycho
The Trouble With Harry
Shadow of a Doubt
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#15 of 49 Mark Walker

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Posted February 04 2002 - 08:26 AM

John St-

After seeing North By Northwest,
you'll understand why you cannot trust anything
George Kaplan says to you:
HomeTheaterForum member or not, the George Kaplan is a fraud! Posted Image

(Sorry, but I had to post, especially
in the context of this thread!)

Posted Image

Mark

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#16 of 49 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted February 04 2002 - 08:31 AM

Warner has enough decent unreleased Hitchcock films under their control that they could do a themed release. I believe they include:

Dial M for Murder
Suspicion
Foreign Correspondent
Stage Fright
I Confess
The Wrong Man
Mr. & Mrs. Smith

I'm not sure who has the rights to "Under Capricorn". It has been out of print on VHS for at least a decade. It was independently produced, but unlike "Rope", it never found its way into Universal's fold.

"To Catch a Thief" is a Paramount title, and Martin Blythe seems to know how much we want it already. Posted Image

The other major title that has not yet been mentioned in this thread is "Lifeboat" which was produced by Fox.

As far as Hitchcock's post-Birds output, I think "Torn Curtain" and "Frenzy" are quite good. "Topaz" is a bit of a mess, and the performances in "Marnie" are not quite up to the interesting material. "Family Plot" is a tad light, but amusing for what it is intended to be. I'm not actually that crazy about "The Birds", come to think of it.

w.r.t. "Rebecca"

If "Under Capricorn" is any indication, the tension between Hitchcock and Selznick may have actually improved Hitch's chances of making a successful gothic drama. Posted Image It's one of both Hitchcock's and Selznick's greatest achievments, so why quibble about its "purity"?

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#17 of 49 Scott Page

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Posted February 04 2002 - 08:32 AM

Good joke Mark Posted Image

Took me a second to get it...guess it's time to watch N by NW again.

Yes, don't trust what G. Kaplin says; he drinks way too much Burbon (but boy is he suave). Posted Image.

#18 of 49 Scott Leopold

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Posted February 04 2002 - 08:45 AM

Although I may be in the minority, I'd personally recommend getting the Laserlight 14-disc box set. It can be found on ebay for just over $70 shipped. It's definitely worth $5/disc, even if you do already own or plan to buy Criterion's 39 Steps & The Lady Vanishes (and you definitely should buy both).

Aside from the Criterion & Laserlight titles, the others I would consider must buys are:

Rear Window
Strangers on a Train
North by Northwest
Shadow of a Doubt (even if the print is in miserable shape)
Psycho
Vertigo

Lifeboat is one of my favorite Hitch movies, and I would love to have it on DVD. Mr. & Mrs. Smith would be a great addition as well (Hitch doing screwball comedy).


#19 of 49 Dick

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Posted February 04 2002 - 09:07 AM

I bought ALL the box sets (at 30-35% off retail), kept the titles I liked, and sold the others on eBay (including the four TV discs, which I first taped). I wound up paying an average of $15.00 each for the ones I kept when you figure in the money I made selling the dozen or so I didn't feel I needed. The TV discs sell on eBay for quite substantial amounts because people don't want to have to buy the box sets! You can make out like a bandit.

#20 of 49 Randy_M

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Posted February 04 2002 - 09:23 AM

I'll jump in here and heartily recommend Frenzy as great late Hitchcock. My favorite post-Psycho Hitchcock film.

I also highly treasure these LaserLight releases:

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Secret Agent
Young and Innocent

Until Criterion or someone redoes these, I'll never give them up. The transfers are perfectly serviceable, just ignore the Tony Curtis introductions.

I think I own all available Hitchcock now, and consider all the Universal's and N By NW must buys.

Cheers
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