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The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

When a new format breaks out, it should be mandatory that the entire catalog of Alfred Hitchcock be immediately upgraded, restored and released. Unfortunately, in these streamy times we live in, that doesn’t seem to be of interest as finally in 2020 we are delivered just a small sampling size of his collection of masterpieces. Luckily that sampling size comes in the form of 4 pictures many would have at the top of their favorites list. Universal delivers the “Classics Collection” which features Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds. Four films that definitely showcase the master in different areas. It comes complete with digital copies and the standard Blu-ray editions. All bonus material is ported over to this set as well. I don’t know what else to tell you, as this is a must have from the jump for any real film collector. This set arrived on September 8th, so if you haven’t already, make sure you get your order in now and start sinking your teeth into this lovely set.

Rear Window (1954)

The story of a recuperating news photographer who believes he has witnessed a murder. Confined to a wheelchair after an accident, he spends his time watching the occupants of neighbouring apartments through a telephoto lens and binoculars and becomes convinced that a murder has taken place.

Rear Window is a wonderful exercise for Alfred Hitchcock in exploring and testing himself with his craft from a technical perspective. The challenge exists in the perspective of a man trapped in a single apartment. The only view to the outside world as pair of binoculars to scour around the complex with. Everything that happens in the film, not taking place in the apartment, is coming from the perspective and limitation of watching from that apartment. The only clear dialogue and intimacy revolving around Jimmy Stewart’s “Jeff” as he stews around arrest by his leg injury.

From the technical perspective alone, this thing is a remarkable feat. The visual language conveyed is one of the biggest triumphs in film history. There’s an interest in every neighbor, an understanding of what is every one of them is going through without the slightest bit of audible exchanges. Even within the apartment, no words said, we find ourselves with an extensive and complete background on Jeff without even a word of dialogue to confirm or a prologue scene to set it up. Hitchcock does it with just the pan of a camera past some belongings and possessions around the apartment.

Obsession is a theme Hitchcock finds interest in exploring through his films and Rear Window fits that bill. But, its found almost through the act of boredom and having so little to care about. Jeff can’t contribute much to the world beyond his apartment at the time, and is looking for, overthinking and consuming himself with little things. Its lucky he turns out to be right about his suspicions, but there’s a chance he’s mentally building it up to give himself a sense of importance. One of the more humorous aspects of the film is that the most beautiful, most interesting and worthwhile opportunity for Jeff lies in his apartment every time Grace Kelly walks into the room. But for Jeff, he wants to seek out the adventure, not have it lay in his lap. Yes, folks, that Grace Kelly. And yes, folks, Jeff is kind of stupid.

We have one of the master’s all time great sequences in the climax of the film. While there are many a great moments of Jeff watching across the street as actions happen, or biting nails as he sends Grace Kelly on a mission to the other building, its the confrontation that brings a unique moment. An imposing Raymond Burr comes to the attack, but Jeff is able to thwart him with the use of his camera’s flash bulb. This being a neat visual sequence, it also brings things full circle to Jeff with his profession as a photographer, but also able to overcome what put him in the chair in the first place. Original it was a tumbling race car he was unable to clear out of the way for, here its a hulking murderer to which his trade is able to stave off. This sequence is quite influential and we’d see it again and again in film history, notably in the confrontation for Silence of the Lambs where Jonathan Demme updates the technology and pulls a reversal when Buffalo Bill stalks Clarice Starling with night-vision goggles in his lair.

There a humongous sweet spot or run of films in the impressive filmography of Alfred Hitchcock that this set includes a piece of and Rear Window is in that succession. The film almost feels as if Hitch is taking what he did with the film Rope and expanding that technical idea and going even further. A small, limited setting with a big technical approach and huge thrills. Of course its led by a terrific cast and Stewart, Kelly and Burr are on top of their game here. The tale feels timeless and fully works in terms of impressive craft, pacing and suspense for any generation if they are willing to give it the opportunity.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail:  Rear Window has made for a beautiful new 4K presentation in its debut on the format. Having been shot in Technicolor (And as the vintage restoration featurette showcases), it a difficult one to bring back to life. Yet, they’ve managed to present the first of four pretty stunning presentations. Once the credits end, the image tightens and become much crisper. If you thought Grace Kelly could quiet a room before, wait until you see how much this transfer loves here. Details are even stronger, crisp and much refined to where you can make out text on books, papers and the like that sit on tables. The only places that one might think could improve actually are inherent because of the film’s actual color and post production process, no fault of this disc itself. The film as never looked this good and really impresses on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray process.

Depth:  Here’s where we come into play with taking in the upgrade for this disc. The camera pans are quite smoother and more confident. There’s and added depth of field, with a push back that feels virtual and adds a more three dimensional feel to watching. From the frame of a door or a window, there is a good pushed back, deep hallway look to the image. This comes in tandem with well rounded figures that move cinematically natural and freely in the image. No issues occur with any sort of motion distortions or blurring if the images gets a bit of rapid action in the story.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and natural. They are able to either shade or consume information where desired. Textures and patterns come through very well no matter how dark a surface or fabric is. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Rear Window is a film with a bit more natural levels of color and in trying to convey a hot day, a more basic look with browns and such conveys that. Grace Kelly’s attire really lights up the screen with flushing, glowing colors as she truly transposes a bright future with her look alone.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones slant natural with that kind of painted color look to it. Appearances are consistent from start to finish with no real changes or flicker issues. Fine facial details and textures are imminent from most reasonable frame distances. Stubble, make-up strokes, face lines and more can easily be downloaded with the eyes.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA, Spanish 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround, French 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Rear Window sticks to the original mono track here for the 4K Ultra-HD debut, not 5.1 or Atmos update. The film feels one that fun could have been offered with that, but when you think about it, a majority of the voyeurism on display in the film is happening out in from of James Stewart. Regardless of the speaker allotment, this mix is terrific with loud, crisp vocals that blend well with good concert music quality. Effects have great volume plays that really give a genuine feel to the distance between our protagonist and the word seen through his binoculars.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: As mentioned, vocals are clear and crisp. There’s a little analog hiss underlying as a base. There is also a terrific mix and volume play with the distant neighbors as our point of view pans around to watch their everyday exploits.

Vertigo (1958)

An ex-police officer who suffers from an intense fear of heights is hired to prevent an old friend’s wife from committing suicide, but all is not as it seems. Hitchcock’s haunting, compelling masterpiece is uniquely revelatory about the director’s own predilections and hang-ups and is widely considered to be one of his masterworks.

Alfred Hitchock never lived to see the incredible rise and re-evaluation of his masterpiece, Vertigo. During most of his days, the film wasn’t even sniffing the word “masterpiece”. Upon release, the film was met with mixed-negative reviews and there were some that even considered him done. In the years and decades following it became a definitive film for a generation that became big time filmmakers themselves in the 1970s, with the film receiving a restoration rerelease and home video debut in the 1980s that had a reversal of fortune on it from scholars and film lovers alike. In 2012, the film rose to become the #1 film of all time on the Sight & Sound top 10.

Was Vertigo ahead of its time? Was it misunderstood? One thing has always been apparent with the Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak led film, it improves every time you return to it. Quite possibly, the first time a person takes in Vertigo may be their least favorite. Hitchock’s film magically starts further revealing itself, starts peeling back layers and quite frankly become something new entirely. And every time the events begin to start maybe its a detail, perhaps its your place in life or experience gain between the now and then that really illuminates a new reading on the film or flushes out a previous assessment you had for it.

One interpretation I’m not alone of seeing is is the depiction of leading ladies being typecast in Hollywood or struggling to showcase range in film. Throughout the first half of Vertigo, Scottie’s old acquaintance Gavin Elster directed Kim Novak’s Judy Barton in her role of “Madeleine”. Its used to dupe Scottie and for him to fall victim to becoming involved and later testifying in favor of Elster. Madeleine is fictional character, not even like his wife aside from inspiring the appearance. We never know her as this depiction is not real. After the incident, Scottie has a chance encounter with Judy who decided to give in. When put in the driver’s seat all he wants from Judy is to play Madeleine again. Despite her wanting to move on, to play a different “role” and leave that behind, all she’s able to muster is a reprise of something she’d already done. And unfortunately being typecast and unable to grow or prosper leads to the death of her career.

Books have been written, many essays and documentaries on Vertigo. Obsession, the visual language, structure, philosophy and more readings, ideals and the like can be found abound and I could write an entire essay repeating them. Its a film ready made for discussion between intellectuals, film geeks and artists. In a way, Vertigo has had the ultimate history fitting of the material in that its constantly built, finding a bigger audience, a new understand and continued appreciation the older it gets and the more time passes. In a career that is stacked with many of cinema’s greatest achievements, Vertigo stands and one of Hitchcock’s finest hours.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail:  I hate to be hyper-exaggerating or to come off as a hot take machine, but Vertigo‘s debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray leaves me no choice.  This truly is setting the bar extremely high for both restorations and transfers for the format. A couple years back, I saw Vertigo in 35mm and this disc blew me away more than that experience.  Universal’s new look not only has rapid amounts of detail, the bursting color that some how is honed in with expert contrast and a sense of depth that adds a whole new level of enjoyment to taking in the film. If you don’t come away from this video presentation awe struck, you may want to stop to check your pulse and make sure you are still among the living.

Depth:  There’s a healthy three dimensional look that is greatly enhanced by this new transfer. Whether it is just character parading around a room in a still shot or Hitchcock playing with zooms and lenses, you get an extra sense of depth of field, pushback and uneasiness when it comes to Scottie’s acrophobia. The camera moves with a smooth, natural confidence. Frames showcase a wonderful sense of grand scale when at the Golden Gate Bridge or in the redwood forest. There are also some excellent showcases of distance through doorways or windows in the background that become especially wonderful when the camera pans over. Character, vehicle and object movements are natural, cinematic and have no issues with any motion blur or jitter.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and natural, though in some areas they come on just a little lighter, but it appears its fitting on the intended coloring of the scene where it will happen. There are great instances of contrast, shadow, outlining and mare that give different tones and are able to convey details, textures and patterns in even the darkest of corners or surfaces showcased throughout the film. It also is able to control the color and not allow for any bleed. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Damn, this thing is an absolute beauty and an intoxication on the senses to let your eyeballs soak in. This is just gorgeously and masterfully glowing and radiantly popping off the scene. While any given moment of the film could be used to tell the tale, from Novak’s green car or just soaking in the natural wonder of a scenescape looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, the best and most amazing display of Vertigo and the capabilities of the 4K Ultra-HD with HDR format come from the interior of Ernie’s restaurant. The wall paper is otherwordly and the contrast of human’s and Kim Novak’s green gown within are absolutely stunning. You honestly will not believe what you’re seeing.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones have a sort of fine painting look to them with natural tones, maintaining a consistency throughout the picture. From any given distance in the frame, one can make out moles, pores, make-up brush strokes, lip texture, wrinkles, dimple lines, light hairs on the face and more. Its a finely combed fascination of human detail that is able to come through.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English DTS:X, English 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround, Spanish 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround, French 2.0 Mono Digital Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Vertigo sees a jump and boost from 5.1 to DTS:X with its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray upgrade. This audio really adds a lot of calm spacing to the feeling of watching the film. Every scene has a nice, smooth accuracy and crisp layering to the proceedings. Vocals and effects work to bring forth a bit of a lifelike experience and the score for the film likes to swoop in and delivery a feeling of fantasy and hypnotizing trance to its depth and volume. The track truly compliments the mesmerizing picture quality being taken in and adds another level of assistance of escapism to lose yourself in Vertigo.

Height: From above, when not blending to help with the other speakers for a given moment, the ceiling likes to pinpoint specifics when accentuating the more unique moments. Its utilized more noticeably in the bell tower, but there are some other moments, like in the water by the bridge or shutters opening from above. The mix decides to use it for visual to audio accuracy moreso than trying to showboat or overdo the height channel.

Low-Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer puts in some solid, accurate work with helping to shape out and deepen the experience of feeling the film. There are good bass and deeper stringed touches in the score as well as filling out doors shutting, heavy footstep or an engine humming along.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The rear and side channels do a good job of filling out the environments inside and out. Varying sounds of traffic, restaurant patrons or just a fine breezy air are touched into the mix with good intricacy and accuracy. Sound travel rolls quite well abound. The speakers all work together in harmonious fashion to giving grandiose sweeps from the film’s beautiful, iconic score to consume your viewing space.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are very fine, crisp and with good clarity. Actor diction is impressively capture here with breaths and other sounds giving a fine depth.

Psycho (1960)

Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man with an interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.

Hitchcock’s finest hour and perhaps the defining film of his career comes in the form of Psycho. Perhaps it was the adversity he faced in making the film. Maybe it was the shock and surprise? Psycho is truly a point in film where the history of film changes following its release. Little details, such as a toilet being seen (and flushed!) on screen for the first time ever just go to show what a breakthrough, game-changing this film was from almost every corner. Psycho is one of those films some iconic that even those who haven’t seen the film know quite a bit about it. Its their go to horror score to mimic to go along with a knife motion reminiscent of this film. The sight of the Bates Motel gives people the willies. Showers aren’t the same. Norman Bates is as go to a serial murderer name as that of Ted Bundy. This film affected the public conscience in a way that few films ever have.

Psycho is one of the most important movies I’ve had in my life. Growing up, my bedroom sported the film’s theatrical poster since as early as I could remember. The horror, terror and suspense were off the charts. The surprises were unforgettable. One of my personal favorite aspects came outside of the film. Universal Studios’ Florida location was a site of many a spring break trips with my family growing up. One of the exhibits there was Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies. As a part of this experience, you sat in a theater and watched step by step how they filmed the shower scene from Psycho. There was a little background, some Hitch and a narration by Anthony Perkins. Actors replacing Perkins, Janet Leigh and crew re-enacted shooting the sequence. It was a lot of fun and enlightening for someone like myself who had such an interest in films and how they were made. The movie studio theme parks used to celebrate the magic of making a film quite a bit long a go, but that seems to not be of importance any more (And a conversation for another day).

While the shower scene itself is one of the most storied and studied moments ever put to celluloid, it greatly overshadows the genius work done that immediately follows it. With the combination of Anthony Perkins magnificent performance, Hitchcock turns the tables on the audience rooting interest and perspective. We watch as a very calm and focused Norman Bates cleans up the crime scene and existence of Marion Crane at the motel. With the body removed, the blood mopped up, her belongings collected, we then start becoming on edge and in suspense for the wrong parties. We start worrying if Norman is going to complete his task and get the job done efficiently. First, we sit and wonder if the newspaper hiding the stolen money on the nightstand is going to be forgotten. Maybe we wonder if Norman is going to even find (or care) about the money. Once its all taken care of, Norman rolls Marion’s tomb in the form of her car into a lake/pond eager to see it sink to the bottom. At one point it stops short for a moment and we worry with Bates for a second. This feeling carries over to the detectives’ as well as Lila and Sam’s visit to the motel as we sit wondering if they’re going to find the things we know about and if Norman gets caught. We don’t realize it, but very slyly,  we are watching and feeling Norman’s point of view rather than the heroes.

I’m not sure what more I can add to the book of Psycho that hasn’t already been gone over countless times and explored with great passion and scholarly expertise. Hopefully some of my personal connection and looking over a sequence I find to be one of my favorites ever was a little something to toss a little of my own brushstrokes to the conversation. Regardless if you have genre preferences or reservations, Psycho should be required viewing. Besides being one of the finest features ever made, there is a lot to learn on just the core basics of film appreciation and filmmaking that are rarely ever seen or replicated. Personally, I’ve never been able to get enough of the film as its just utterly perfect in every single way.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail:  Black and white films are turning out to be some of the ones to benefit most from the advent of 4K Ultra-HD Blur-ay. The ability to showcase natural blacks are given new character and such probably not seen since their projecting days of yore. Psycho is no exception to this as it looks better than ever and even jumps far ahead of an already impressive standard Blu-ray presentation. The details are all there, from pores/light blonde hair follicles on Janet Leigh’s arm to a mole just above her lip I’d never noticed that they might be attempting to cover up with make-up. The film has a great depth, flush with outstanding details like being able to actually sit and read the newspaper and the guest registry. I would liken Psycho‘s look to the very impressive 4K restoration of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove 4K from a couple months back. Just breathtaking and unbelievable to look at.

Depth:  With great clarity comes an outstanding sense of distance in the image, with expert levels of foreground and background relations. There’s a three dimensional feel to surroundings thanks to the smooth movements of the camera and confident pans and zooms. Just watching through windows and the like can be mesmerizing.  Just from the opening moments after the credit sequence leading into the hotel room are just wow-inducing.

Black Levels:  Black levels are deep, natural and really paint a whole new reality for the film. Not only does it help to define every frame, the shadow and darkness really adds a whole new tone to the film. Textures, patterns and the like are still wonderfully clear and easily visible in the darkness with finer points like hair follicles clears as day to make out. No crushing present at all.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones carry a gray/white appearance to them with a consistence look from start to finish of the film. Impressively, facial details and textures really pop off the screen in a life-like appearance. Moles, freckles, light facial hairs, wrinkles and more really come across in that “looking at them through a window” type fashion.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English DTS:X, English 2.0 Mono Original Audio DTS-HD, Spanish 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround, French 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Like Vertigo, Psycho has also been given an atmospheric DTS:X mix to upgrade the sound. Its based upon the remix that was done for the original Blu-ray list. This goes for a more precise feel, but is also much more loose and free sounding than before. There is plenty of layering and depth on display with some of the most lifelike and genuine sound effects. I’ll plead some ignorance here as I checked the mono track here as its touted as the “original” as some have reported its a downmixed version of the DTS:X track. And from my ears I could both say “yes” and “no” to that. So in all honesty, I can’t really make that call fully. Some of it sounded like the replaced effects, while others didn’t. But this is some spilled milk to cry over at the end of the day as Psycho on 4K Ultra-HD is remains a fantastic experience and this really does not deter from that.

Height: From the ceiling, you’re given a good amount of rain from above as well as things coming from the floor above inside the Bates Motel or “mother” yelling from outside. Up top also helps to bring a much more consuming feel the film’s score in the bigger moments of the movie.

Low-Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer really gets a jolt from the low strings in the score and runs with it. Sound effects like engines and doors shutting add to the thumping, but its really the score that shines most.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is again, a calm realize environmentally focused mix with the speaker channels. Every corner of the room is thought through and unique sounds add a lifelike presence. Sound travel rolls through with such a nice natural and forceful ability to add to the fun.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are astoundingly clear and crisp with actors diction and mouth sounds impressively captured and displayed. The clean sound of them is truly a wonder of this mix.

The Birds (1963)

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) meets Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a San Francisco pet store and decides to follow him home. She brings with her the gift of two love birds and they strike up a romance. One day birds start attacking children at Mitch’s sisters party. A huge assault starts on the town by attacking birds.

The Birds is so much more than it appears to be on the surface. “Hitchcock’s monster movie!” as some may call. And yeah, its easy to be overcome with the vicious attacking birds terrorizing Bodega Bay. However, the film in seminal in the way it provides much more depth and character than the genre typically allowed for the time. It was a proving ground that adult and important films could be captured within the genre. This is an important lesson that someone like George A. Romero would note and include later in the same decade when he took a similar step with Night of the Living Dead.

Said themes that follow the film seem a little obvious but are quite cleverly brushed through in the film. Love, violence and entrapment all become foundation through with the avatar of birds to terrify. What’s great is that the film plays as a terrifying horror film on the surface, which itself is outstanding. But, it also has layers that can make them more apparent to a viewer as they grow in age or return to the film again and again. This was a powerful idea too, in taking something from nature to attack the people. And something seen as so peaceful and gentle to boot. What Hitchcock had done for showers in the previous film, he’d now done to pet stores. Previously these had been goofy rubber suit monsters or model attacks, now this kind of thing would inspire a lot of “vs nature” films and pave the way to such greatness as Jaws the next decade over. Jaws, which would also carry the depth and character exploration on display here.

Tippi Hedren flat out owns The Birds with a standout performance as the curious and adventurous Melanie Daniels.  Just by looks alone in stature and style, one can tell you what movie it is, which is a testament to how memorable Tippi is. She’s also the classic story of a woman having to go through sheer hell in shooting a horror film and people not understanding how draining and physically taxing it can be. Tippi is a champ though, and her reward is a legendary performance in a all-timer film and then the opportunity to do possibly her best work in Hitchcock’s follow up Marnie (Wish it was in this set) next.

Hitchcock’s voyeuristic nature comes into play here as he continues to explore fun POV suspense sequences. Perhaps the best one comes before any of the bird pandemonium even begins as Tippi sneaks over to Mitch’s place to leave something and watches from a boat afar. Sure, nothing is going to happen if she’s caught and its extremely playful, but even this sequence has you on the edge of your seat with anticipation. The genius of Hitchcock knows no bounds, and this little joyous moment carries more suspense in its pinky than a majority of the films trying their best to do this since.

The Birds perhaps is a film from Alfred Hitchcock that both gets enough and doesn’t get enough credit. Its one of his most well known films, and is always fully lauded. However, I feel its one that maybe sometime people don’t see beyond the horror and the real rich stuff to sink your teeth into. There is a lot going on with it and I stand by that this film is just as effective today. Just last year, I showed by my (then) 5 and 7 year old the film and they were both quite shook by it and the terror they found greatly effective. I recently brought it up with my daughter and she got a little uneasy about it and asked me to stop talking about it. That’s pretty powerful considering all of the much higher tech stuff they are exposed to these days and a pretty damn good endorsement for the film almost 6o years later.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail:  Perhaps the film in this set that saw the most benefit of being restored and transferred for the 4K Ultra-HD release is The Birds. The other 3 films already had satisfactory or impressive releases on standard Blu-ray when they released, while The Birds left a lot to be desired. Now, the colors are more flush and stabilized, the image crisp and everything with a much more well rounded and defined look. Textures showcasing lovingly and the film just now has a nicer polish to it as opposed to the sometimes dingy look of the standard Blu-ray counterpart. The effects for the film still hold up quite well, too. Yes, they aren’t up to modern standards, but they still play effectively enough given their age.

Depth:  Depth of field here really adds a grander sense of scale and makes the film feel much bigger than it has before when at home. There is a scene where Tippi drives through mountainside by the ocean that is absolutely jaw dropping and just a lot to take in when seeing it. Motion is smooth and cinematic. No matter how hectic the birds attack get, this transfer never falters with any sort of motion distortions or blurring.

Black Levels:  Blacks are natural and really deepen the experience of the film. Great shadow and nighttime sequences really take on new and improved flavor. Scene are much more haunting now and now information is swallowed up by the darkness. No crushing was witnessed in this transfer.

Color Reproduction:  Colors stand out a lot more on this new transfer and feature a richer saturation. Tippi’s green outfit feels of a natural look and many of the “regular” colors have a bolder, tougher and lifelike presence. HDR has a nice ability to pop when able to with car lights or fire lighting up a dark area with glowing orange.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Skin color looks a lot more flush and bold than it was before. Textures and details are quite fine and you can make out wrinkles, make-up lines, dried blood, bruised and more from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Mono DTS Digital Surround, Spanish 2.0 Mono Digital Surround, Japanese 2.0 Mono Digital Surround, Portuguese 2.0 Mono Digital Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese

Dynamics: This set bookends with mono tracks. Yes, The Birds feels like one that an engineer could have had a field day with crafting a new atmospheric DTS:X track for, but alas. The Birds in mono still features some really strong layer, with depth and crisp foley effects. The balance of the score, effects and vocals is quite effects and really delivers in terms of the terror. This is the same track as before, but unless you’re going to upgrade and redesign the structure for a modern presentation, being strapped with this perfect interpretation of the original theatrical mix is nothing to complain about.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear, crisp and feature some really nice defined voices with good diction. The birds chirp quite well, too.

Extras

The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection is an 8-disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray discs for each film and is housed in a hard cover digibook that fits into a flimsier shell/slip. It also contains a single digital code that redeems all 4 films. While the bonus features are encoded as HD, its quite apparent that many of these have SD or VHS sources. All of the discs included are their previous Blu-ray editions except for Psycho, which is the new 60th Anniversary Edition disc (Comes with the Uncut version as well as a new menu for the film). The bonus features remain the same as found the previously released Blu-rays for the films.

Rear Window

Audio Commentary

  • With John Fawell (Author of Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film)

Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary (HD, 55:10)

A Conversation With Screenwriter John Michael Hayes (HD, 13:10)

Pure Cinema: Through The Eyes Of The Master (HD, 25:10)

Breaking Barriers: The Sound Of Hitchcock (HD, 23:31)

Hitchcock/Truffaut (HD, 16:14)

Masters Of Cinema (HD, 33:18)

Production Photographs (HD, 3:07)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:39) 

Re-Release Trailer Narrated By James Stewart (HD, 6:14)

Vertigo

Audio Commentary

  • With Director William Friedkin

Obsessed With Vertigo: New Life For Hitchcock’s Masterpiece (HD, 29:19) 

Partners In Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborators (HD, 54:47) – “Saul Bass: Title Champ”, “Edith Head: Dressing The Master’s Movies”, “Bernard Herrmann: Hitchcock’s Maestro”, “Alma: The Master’s Muse”

Foreign Censorship Ending (HD, 2:08)

Hitchcock/Truffaut (HD, 14:18)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:30) 

Restoration Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:23)

100 Years Of Universal: The Lew Wasseran Era (HD, 8:50) 

Psycho

Audio Commentary

  • With Stephen Rebello (Author of Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho)

Psycho Uncut – The extended version of the movie as seen in theaters in 1960.

The Making Of Psycho (HD, 1:34:13) 

Psycho Sound (HD, 9:58) 

In The Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy (HD, 25:59)

Hitchcock/Truffaut (HD, 15:22) 

Newsreel Footage: The Release Of Psycho (HD, 7:46) 

The Shower Scene: With And Without Music (HD, 2:32)

The Shower Sequence: Storyboards By Saul Bass (HD, 4:10) 

The Psycho Archives (HD, 7:48) 

Posters And Psycho Ads (HD, 3:00)

Lobby Cards (HD, 1:30)

Behind-The-Scenes Photographs (HD, 8:00)

Production Photographs (HD, 8:30)

Psycho Theatrical Trailers (HD, 6:31)

Psycho Re-Release Trailer (HD, 1:52)

The Birds

The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie (HD, 14:23) 

All About The Birds (HD, 1:19:50)

Tippi Hedren’s Screen Test (HD, 9:58)

Deleted Scene (HD, 4:20) 

The Original Ending (HD, 3:40) 

Hitchcock/Truffaut (HD, 13:58)

The Birds Is Coming: Universal International Newsreel (HD, 1:15) 

Suspense Story: National Press Club Hears Hitchcock: Universal International Newsreel (HD, 1:54) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 5:12)

100 Years Of Universal: Restoring The Classics (HD, 9:13) 

100 Years Of Universal: The Lot (HD, 9:25)

Summary

The Alfred Hitchock Classics Collection top to bottom is the best kind of standard upgrade one could hope for. The transfer and audio on these films are complete dynamite. Vertigo is a complete revelation and one of the greatest achievements in home video history. They stand tall over their mostly impressive Blu-ray counterparts. All of the bonus features have been ported over (Even available on the 4K discs). Sure, there are no new bonus features, but everything that could be said about these films has been said, and there are hours of content to divulge into a wonderful discourse of each film. The Blu-ray version and digital copy codes allow you all the access you’ll need. I don’t know how else to say it, but the set is one of THE must haves of the 2020 4K Ultra-HD release year.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Paul Johnson

    Hi! Is the packaging as bad as many suggest?