‘Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection' Blu-ray
“Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” contains five of the greatest hits, several near misses and a couple of outright flops from the Master of Suspense — 15 films in all. But the scariest thing about this box set might be the price tag for many of Sir Alfred's fans (about $225).
Thirteen of the titles in this limited edition are appearing on Blu-ray for the first time. The most dedicated fans of the Portly Prince of Darkness probably already own the five essentials — “Rear Window” (1954), “Vertigo” (1958), “North by Northwest” (1959), “Psycho” (1960) and “The Birds” (1963) — in some video format or other. But the gleaming white tile, flashing blade and dark streams of chocolate syrup in the infamous shower scene never looked more terrifyingly vivid and sharp than they do in high-definition.
Two of the less celebrated older titles are worth owning, too. “Saboteur” (1942) stars Robert Cummings as Hitch's favorite kind of character, the innocent, ordinary man wrongly accused of a horrendous crime and forced to run from the law and the bad guys as well (in this case, Nazi spies) while trying to track down the real villain (longtime Hitchcock associate Norman Lloyd). It's an offbeat wartime nail-biter with a spectacular finale atop the Statue of Liberty. “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), said to be Hitchcock's personal favorite, is an absorbing thriller about a young woman (Teresa Wright) who slowly comes to suspect that her favorite uncle (Joseph Cotten) might be the “Merry Widow” serial killer she's been reading about in the newspapers.
Some of the later works — “Torn Curtain” (1966), “Topaz” (1969), “Frenzy” (1972), “Family Plot” (1976) — show Hitchcock's genius for visual and psychological storytelling and his wickedly dark sense of humor beginning to falter.
But for the most part this is a solid selection of the Master's movies that also features “Rope” (1948), “The Trouble with Harry” (1955), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956) and the sorely underrated “Marnie” (1964), starring ‘Tippi' Hedren as a compulsive liar and thief who's forced to marry one of the men (Sean Connery) she attempts to rob.
The set also holds more than 15 hours of documentaries, filmmaker commentaries, interviews, screen tests, trailers and a new documentary, “‘The Birds', Hitchcock's Monster Movie.” There's also a 50-page book featuring storyboards, costume sketches, correspondence, photographs and great Hitchcock quotes such as: “I'm a typed director. If I made ‘Cinderella,' the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”
— Gene Triplett