Grady

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For those unaware, Alfred Hitchcock was a filmmaker of (generally) thrillers, occasionally with a bit of humor thrown in, and one single comedy - Mr. and Mrs. Smith (the 1941 RKO version).

For this 4k Hitchcock sampler of his productions either produced for or owned by Universal, of which there are 13, inclusive of five acquired from the Hitchcock estate, the studio selected four of the more well known.

Rear Window (1954), and Vertigo (1958), originally produced via Paramount, Psycho(1960) and The Birds (1963).

I've had the opportunity to sample all four, and have come away generally pleased.

All four have extremely stable images. Where dupes are involved, they appear clean. Color for the three color films - all shot on Eastman Color negative - is superbly rendered. Psycho is a very nice looking presentation in black & white.

For tracks, Rear Window in presented in two channel monaural.


Vertigo in DTS-X, as all as two-channel monaural - based upon positive prints, dupe optical tracks, original 3-track stereo music and original monaural music, along with new Foley and effects tracks. Original tracks for this film did not survive.

Psycho is presented in both DTS-X, as well as two channel Monaural.

The Birds, two channel monaural.

Except for Vertigo, which was photographed in VistaVision, the films are all standard issue 35mm 4-perf, with Rear Window in its proper 1.66:1 ratio, and the others, inclusive of Vertigo in 1.85:1.

Color is beautifully rendered, with a pleasant grain structure, and proper shadow detail.

Vertigo's roots in VistaVision seem, at least to my eye, to be reasonably obvious, and the overall textures and resolution of the film are pleasant.

Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho were all overprinted during their original releases, and beyond, but I find them to look quite nice here, with problems never being obvious.

Overall, an extremely nice package, especially for $60, for four films in both 4k as well as Blu-ray.

A steal, actually.

More, please.

As to Vertigo, I've heard people say that it may be Hitchcock's finest film. I like it just fine.

This is a set that belongs in every cinephile's collection. If you want more from the studio, I suggest that you help to create positive sales numbers.

Image – 5

Audio – 5 (various)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
Mr. Harris,

I have concerns about the benefit of upgrading to 4k on three on these films. I suspect Vertigo will look noticeably in 4K, but the other three I'm not so sure. You omitted the Upgrade from Blu Ray in your review, I'm wondering why?

Disregard the fact that Hitchcock is my favorite director. As I was also born on August 13th I had no choice.
 
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haineshisway

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Are you certain that it’s the original? Not my area of expertise?
I'm certain, yes. And the music sounds MUCH better on the original mono track, and that sound mix is superb - the new one has new sfx added that's both unnecessary and irritating - these were added for the the 5.1 mix done a decade ago and they should be put out to pasture. The original mono audio included on the UK Blu from back then is of superb quality.
 

Bryan Tuck

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It doesn’t strike me as being that odd. It would have made its first run in its uncut form, and the trims would likely have been made to allow the film to be suitable for aftermarket venues like television.
Why would a TV cut in the 60s remove the extra shot of Marion undressing, the extended shot of Norman's bloody hands, and the extra stabs on Arbogast, but leave the shower scene completely intact? And why would a TV cut be used to make almost every theatrical print and home video release since?
 

AlexNH

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Why would a TV cut in the 60s remove the extra shot of Marion undressing, the extended shot of Norman's bloody hands, and the extra stabs on Arbogast, but leave the shower scene completely intact? And why would a TV cut be used to make almost every theatrical print and home video release since?
I've been asking the same questions. I asked a while back in another thread. It's completely bizarre, especially for such a high profile movie.
 
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Mark B

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Why would a TV cut in the 60s remove the extra shot of Marion undressing, the extended shot of Norman's bloody hands, and the extra stabs on Arbogast, but leave the shower scene completely intact? And why would a TV cut be used to make almost every theatrical print and home video release since?
And the reissue trailer said "see the version tv didn't dare to show you."
 
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Powell&Pressburger

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I wish they had upgraded the trailers HD. I always liked the original and Re-Release trailers for VERTIGO but I swear they ripped them from the laserdisc haha
 

murrayThompson

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I wish they had upgraded the trailers HD. I always liked the original and Re-Release trailers for VERTIGO but I swear they ripped them from the laserdisc haha
I wish we had more HD versions of classic trailers, so many of them are poor low res versions on the discs. Many discs dont even carry them anymore. I know many dont care about the trailers but I do! They are a very import part of our film history and they too should be treated with respect.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Why would a TV cut in the 60s remove the extra shot of Marion undressing, the extended shot of Norman's bloody hands, and the extra stabs on Arbogast, but leave the shower scene completely intact? And why would a TV cut be used to make almost every theatrical print and home video release since?
This is gonna be a boring answer.

Studios didn’t view films and film libraries in 1960 as they do today. Films were products with shelf lives to be used, not works of art to be carefully preserved or intellectual property to be curated. It was 20 years before video rental meant you could choose a specific movie to watch at your leisure, 40 years before disc ownership put real value into libraries for studios. Theatrical prints were made directly from camera negatives. Movies would play in theaters and then disappear for years except for an occasional TV screening, and maybe a re-release. Films were frequently trimmed for reissue or distribution for a variety of reasons and those kinds of alterations were often made directly on the original negative. Someone needed a version of Psycho without those elements and cut it. Clearly accurate notes weren’t kept and that knowledge was forgotten. The difference in length isn’t drastic enough for it to be immediately obvious based on the physical length of the print, the way it would be if longer chunks had been excised.

Its not a glamorous kind of story but that’s often just the way things were then.
 

Patrick McCart

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Had a chance to sample all the discs. Like many titles, it's a subtle upgrade on most, but Psycho is by far the biggest upgrade. I did also find a lot of shots that looked "mushy" on the Vertigo Blu-ray to look properly resolved here. That disc was oddly VC-1 encoded. Glad to see that the "revised" Vertigo remix has been utilized again since it's fantastic, even compared to the compromised 1996 track.

What really surprised me was how "transparent" Rear Window and The Birds look. The Blu-rays are excellent, but there's an extra bit of "pop" to the image here. Really makes me anticipate the day I can check these out in projection instead of "just" my 60" display.

I do find Rear Window to be a great "benchmark" title overall since it's never looked bad on digital media. Even the 2000 DVD was a knockout for the time.

Though, the packaging is absolute garbage. Is it too much to ask for studios to have these designed for human hands?
 

Dan Cooper

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This collection arrived today in the mail and i am thrilled over the picture quality on all four films. I sampled all of them on my lg 77" oled and feel we are seeing the best these movies will ever look. I think back to the early 80s on first watching them on my rca selectavision that i owned and they have come a long way from that. I am so glad to own them in this condition.

I didnt care for the packaging of the movies in sleeves so i am using my essential blu ray box set to keep the four 4k discs along with standard blu ray of north by northwest.
 

Bryan Tuck

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This is gonna be a boring answer.

Studios didn’t view films and film libraries in 1960 as they do today. Films were products with shelf lives to be used, not works of art to be carefully preserved or intellectual property to be curated. It was 20 years before video rental meant you could choose a specific movie to watch at your leisure, 40 years before disc ownership put real value into libraries for studios. Theatrical prints were made directly from camera negatives. Movies would play in theaters and then disappear for years except for an occasional TV screening, and maybe a re-release. Films were frequently trimmed for reissue or distribution for a variety of reasons and those kinds of alterations were often made directly on the original negative. Someone needed a version of Psycho without those elements and cut it. Clearly accurate notes weren’t kept and that knowledge was forgotten. The difference in length isn’t drastic enough for it to be immediately obvious based on the physical length of the print, the way it would be if longer chunks had been excised.

Its not a glamorous kind of story but that’s often just the way things were then.
This is a link I posted in a different thread:

https://catalog.afi.com/Catalog/moviedetails/53260

The relevant portion:

----
"On 19 Feb 1960, the PCA viewed the completed film, which it refused to approve. According to an internal memo, the film was rejected because of the beginning scene between Sam and Marion, which was 'entirely too passionate'; a sexually suggestive line uttered by 'Tom Cassidy'; and the shower murder sequence. The memo stated that the sequence had 'a number of shots, some impressionistic, some completely realistic, of the girl’s nude body. All of these shots are in violation of the Code, which prohibits nudity 'in fact or in silhouette.' It was further declared that Norman watching Marion undress was too sexually suggestive and had to be cut so that he would only see her in her bra and slip rather than explicitly taking off her bra. On 3 Mar 1960, the office issued Paramount a seal of approval 'based upon the revised scenes as reviewed in our projection room' the previous day, so presumably the cuts demanded by the PCA were made.

"The Hitchcock papers reveal that the National Catholic Legion of Decency demanded three cuts before giving the picture a 'B,' or 'morally objectionable in part for all' rating. The Legion required that scenes of Marion removing her bra be deleted, that the shots showing Norman washing his hands of blood be shortened and that the number of times Arbogast is stabbed be reduced from four to two. Psycho was eventually issued the 'B' rating by the Legion, which announced: 'The sensational use of sex and the excessive violence, which partially mar the development of the story, are considered to be entirely lacking in dramatic justification and to be highly objectionable.'"
----

This suggests that both the PCA and the Legion of Decency objected to the shot of Marion undressing, and that the Legion of Decency objected to the two other bits that are now part of the "Uncut" version. It's possible that the trims were made to the negative in the spring of 1960, but that materials for international distribution had already gone out. Some markets may have released the slightly longer prints, one of which was apparently the source of those German TV airings that started all the speculation about a longer cut in the first place.

That's admittedly all conjecture, but I feel like the only other possibility is that Paramount ignored the Legion of Decency and released the film with those extra bits of footage. Then when Universal gained control a few years later, they went back into the film and made the three specific cuts the Legion of Decency had requested in 1960 and then re-released the film, claiming that it was "Uncut" and the "Version TV Didn't Dare Show." I'm just not sure I buy that.

I may be completely wrong, of course. Anyone can feel free to post the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" conspiracy meme if you'd like. :)
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Once I get a chance to I’ll be glad to. I have more time to chat about movies than to watch them these days :)
 

Dan Cooper

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According to dvdbeaver the blu rays are all identical to the previous blu rays except for psycho which is based off the new 4k disc.
 
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Reed Grele

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Watched Vertigo from beginning to end on my 120" screen via the Sony 885ES 4K laser projector. Hasn't looked this good since I saw the late 90's restoration at the Ziegfeld.

Colors really POP in all the right places. I agree with previous posts concerning a somewhat softer look of the film, but I'm OK with it as it was done on purpose using filters.

The lights slowly dimming in the Argosy Book Store as Carlotta's sad story unfolds seemed to get noticeably darker towards the conclusion than I ever recall noticing previously (help from HDR?) I've always enjoyed this clever bit.

Will have to devote the next 3 nights to Psycho, Rear Window, and The Birds. From what I've read here so far, I'm sure they won't disappoint.

A quick question for Mr. Harris regarding Vertigo. Is the face at the beginning of the opening credits supposed to be completely black & white until the full color push? What are you seeing?
 
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Robert Harris

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Watched Vertigo from beginning to end on my 120" screen via the Sony 885ES 4K laser projector. Hasn't looked this good since I saw the late 90's restoration at the Ziegfeld.

Colors really POP in all the right places. I agree with previous posts concerning a somewhat softer look of the film, but I'm OK with it as it was done on purpose using filters.

The lights slowly dimming in the Argosy Book Store as Carlotta's sad story unfolds seemed to get noticeably darker towards the conclusion than I ever recall noticing previously (help from HDR?) I've always enjoyed this clever bit.

Will have to devote the next 3 nights to Psycho, Rear Window, and The Birds. From what I've read here so far, I'm sure they won't disappoint.

A quick question for Mr. Harris regarding Vertigo. Is the face at the beginning of the opening credits supposed to be completely black & white until the full color push? What are you seeing?
Face should be light sepia. It’s correct.
 
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Robert Harris

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This is a link I posted in a different thread:

https://catalog.afi.com/Catalog/moviedetails/53260

The relevant portion:

----
"On 19 Feb 1960, the PCA viewed the completed film, which it refused to approve. According to an internal memo, the film was rejected because of the beginning scene between Sam and Marion, which was 'entirely too passionate'; a sexually suggestive line uttered by 'Tom Cassidy'; and the shower murder sequence. The memo stated that the sequence had 'a number of shots, some impressionistic, some completely realistic, of the girl’s nude body. All of these shots are in violation of the Code, which prohibits nudity 'in fact or in silhouette.' It was further declared that Norman watching Marion undress was too sexually suggestive and had to be cut so that he would only see her in her bra and slip rather than explicitly taking off her bra. On 3 Mar 1960, the office issued Paramount a seal of approval 'based upon the revised scenes as reviewed in our projection room' the previous day, so presumably the cuts demanded by the PCA were made.

"The Hitchcock papers reveal that the National Catholic Legion of Decency demanded three cuts before giving the picture a 'B,' or 'morally objectionable in part for all' rating. The Legion required that scenes of Marion removing her bra be deleted, that the shots showing Norman washing his hands of blood be shortened and that the number of times Arbogast is stabbed be reduced from four to two. Psycho was eventually issued the 'B' rating by the Legion, which announced: 'The sensational use of sex and the excessive violence, which partially mar the development of the story, are considered to be entirely lacking in dramatic justification and to be highly objectionable.'"
----

This suggests that both the PCA and the Legion of Decency objected to the shot of Marion undressing, and that the Legion of Decency objected to the two other bits that are now part of the "Uncut" version. It's possible that the trims were made to the negative in the spring of 1960, but that materials for international distribution had already gone out. Some markets may have released the slightly longer prints, one of which was apparently the source of those German TV airings that started all the speculation about a longer cut in the first place.

That's admittedly all conjecture, but I feel like the only other possibility is that Paramount ignored the Legion of Decency and released the film with those extra bits of footage. Then when Universal gained control a few years later, they went back into the film and made the three specific cuts the Legion of Decency had requested in 1960 and then re-released the film, claiming that it was "Uncut" and the "Version TV Didn't Dare Show." I'm just not sure I buy that.

I may be completely wrong, of course. Anyone can feel free to post the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" conspiracy meme if you'd like. :)
This early cuts being made after a foreign fine grain was shipped sounds plausible. Answer would be in lab cards.
 
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Stephen Buccleugh

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Anybody noticing problems with USPS? My 4K Hitch has been sitting in Texas for 3 days. Another Amazon order reached Montgomery AL (50 miles from me) and the next morning it was in Tulsa OK, where it has been sitting for 2 days. How will the election happen with already such confusion and error?
 

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