Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection review, Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection DVD
Starring
Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Jessica Tandy and more
Director
Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection

Reviewed by Jason Zingale

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T
he studio double-dip has become perhaps the most annoying aspect of collecting DVDs, and no one knows this better than fans of director Alfred Hitchcock. Box sets featuring the famed director’s extensive library pop up once - sometimes twice - a year with promises of new video transfers and special features. Even worse is the stupid decision-making as to which films will actually appear in the different sets, because for every gem there are two dreadful titles. A majority of the time, the consumer is forced to decide whether he should pay the ridiculous price tag for a certain version of a film, even if it means that he’ll be stuck with duplicates of others.

The Universal-produced “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” is no different, and the lack of a number of the director’s actual masterpieces lead us to believe that this is a glorified release meant only to act as the simple holiday gift option. And the faux-velvet cover acts only as more evidence to this theory. It’s meant to look pretty on your shelf, and nothing more, but if you’re a fan of Hitchcock, and you’ve yet to purchase any of his work on DVD, this is just as good a place to start as any. Of course, you’ll be forced to endure some of his less significant work like “Saboteur,” Torn Curtain,” Topaz” and “Family Plot,” but there’s plenty of classics here as well. The rest of the films featured include: “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Rope,” “Rear Window,” “The Trouble With Harry,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “Vertigo,” “Psycho,” “The Birds,” “Marnie,” and “Frenzy.”

Fourteen films in all, with a bonus disc to top it off, are presented in chronological order across fifteen separate discs. Gathered in four digipacks that slide nicely into the durable velvet box, a colorful 32-page booklet is included with short introductions to all of the films. Each film is also accompanied by a number of special features, though some have far more than others, while the bonus disc includes an “AFI Salute to Alfred Hitchcock,” a documentary on the director, and two making-of featurettes for “The Birds” and “Psycho,” respectively. All of the films look great in their new video transfers to disc, but the changes aren’t drastic enough to warrant re-buying the films if you already own them in DVD format.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the set is that, while it denotes a certain level of respect for the director, the only films featured were made under the Universal brand. This means that Top-10 classics like “North by Northwest” and “Strangers on a Train” don’t appear, nor do other fan favorites like “Rebecca,” “Notorious,” and “The 39 Steps.” So what do you do if you’re a fan of Hitchcock? It’s tough to say, though this is easily the most extensive set that’s appeared on the market, and is worth picking up if you’re planning on buying a majority of the featured movies anyways. It will save you both time and money, and will be the main attraction of your DVD collection. Just don’t forget to pick up “North by Northwest” while you’re there.

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