Haven’t done one of these in a while, so here goes.
THE PSYCHO LEGACY BOX SET (from Germany)
Okay color me dopey, but I bought this, knowing that it wasn’t a new transfer for the original Psycho or the other films in the set. They are all older transfers, with the only difference being the inserted footage into Psycho (hence the “uncut”).
The big come on for this set’s existence is the uncut version of the Hitchcock masterpiece. There’s probably less than twenty seconds of additional footage that existed in a German 35mm print that has been seamlessly added into the normal release we all have.
The additional footage involves one extra shot where Norman Bates is peeping on Janet Leigh undressing. In the version we all have and that every home video release has contained, we have one shot of her in her bra and slip, then a cut to Norman looking, then back to Janet Leigh having just put on her robe. In the uncut German print there is an additional shot of Leigh as she begins to take her bra off (and gets pretty far for 1960). The second sequence with additional footage is post-murder. Tony Perkins drags the lifeless body from the bathroom onto the shower curtain. He then looks at his hands and we have a shot of them covered in blood. Then it cuts to his face, he turns and goes in the bathroom and washes the blood off in the sink. In the longer German version there are longer shots of his hands covered in blood, mostly holding on the hands as he walks in the bathroom and goes to the sink. The final extended shot is in the Martin Balsam murder. He falls down the stairs, and mother comes after him, and stabs him again, then raising the knife in the air to stab again, at which point the shot fades out. In the extended German print, she stabs him once, the knife rises and she stabs him again, another rise, and stabs a third time, the knife rises for the fourth stab and the shot fades out.
No one really knows what the deal is here, but I actually have a pretty good idea what the deal is and an e-mail from Universal sent to the German company who released this is somewhat telling: It states that what the German release contains is the Psycho that was released in 1960. And I completely believe that, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute. So, what I think happened, and this is just my supposition, is that the film had those brief shots edited out subsequent to the original release, and for its re-release and then TV showings. I was so scared to see the re-release and then TV showings, because the film I’d seen in 1960 on opening day so scared me silly I was too nervous to put myself through that again. But when I saw it, I sensed something was not quite right and I remember saying that to anyone who would listen. Because, as a twelve-year-old, the film was rather seared into my memory, and I have always remembered the bra shot (I was a horny little twelve-year-old), but more importantly, I always remembered vividly the multiple stabs. And when I saw the re-release with one stab I questioned my memory, of course, but something told me I was right, and now I believe I was right. I think the film as released in 1960 is exactly what is reflected in that German print. Complicating matters is the Richard Anobile book that replicates Psycho in stills and dialogue. The extra footage is not reflected in his stills, but his book was done in 1974 and I believe he was given the re-release print to work from. I suppose we’ll never really know without a definitive answer from Universal, but I feel what they said in their e-mail is indicative that I may just be right, that this uncut German print IS the release version everyone saw in 1960, including the United States.
I also watched the Gus Van Sant redo – it’s just horrible – the cast is wretched, the few added bits are awful (including what Master Bates (get it) is doing as he spies on Marion – I mean, there’s not a thing that works save for the adaptation of the Herrmann score. I’ll catch up on the rest of the set this weekend. You should know that the set is completely region-free.
THE THIRD SECRET
I first saw this film at a sneak preview and absolutely loved it. I loved the way it was shot, the feel, and most especially Pamela Franklin, who, at the time, was one of the very best young actresses working in film. I didn’t see it again for years until the DVD was released and I liked it very much seeing after all those years. Now it’s out on Blu-ray in the UK. It’s from Fox, and you know that Twilight Time would have released it had it been from a new scan, but alas it’s the same scan used for the DVD. It’s perfectly okay, but not what it could and should be. I still love the movie, as silly as it gets occasionally, and I absolutely love the ending of it. Miss Franklin’s performance is still the rock of the film, but Stephen Boyd is very good, as are Diane Cilento and Jack Hawkins. Charles Crichton’s direction is great, as is the black-and-white scope photography. Perhaps Fox will get around to this someday with a luscious new transfer. This is a UK import and not region-free.
I love Fritz Lang. This is not one of his greats, but even lesser Lang is better than most other directors. We have a great cast, including Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, and Gloria Grahame, and Lang’s direction is wonderful. If it never achieves greatness, it’s still very enjoyable and well done. Again, if this was a new transfer it would be on Twilight Time – but alas, it’s an older transfer. That said, it looks very good for the most part and I doubt this would be high on Sony’s list for a new transfer. Also a UK release and not region-free.
Why I missed this when it first came out is anyone’s guess, since it at least looked like it was right up my alley. So, when this came out a week ago I ordered it. Again, a Sony release of an older master, but reasonable-looking. Certainly the cast is fine – Patricia Neal, Curt Jurgens, and Samantha Eggar. Sadly, it’s a bad movie, never really adding up to anything. It just drags on and on and on. UK release, but this one is region free.