Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
List Price
$299.98
Amazon
$153.99 (49%)
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$144.99
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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
5 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection

Street Date:
October 30th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
November 20th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
1942
Studio:
Universal
Length:
1607 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It's finally happened. Some of the most famous movies of all time, created by one of the most prolific and creative directors in cinematic history, have finally come to Blu-ray. The 'Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Collection' offers up 15 of Hitchcock's most revered films. Some of them have already been released on the format, while others are finding their way to Blu-ray for the very first time. Hopefully you're as excited about this set as we are.

As with the 'Bond 50' set, this one is far too large to write a quick review about. Instead we here at High-Def Digest have decided to follow the same road that we did with 007's mega-set and review each film separately. This page will act as a hub for each of the films that is contained in the set.

Most film fans are anxious to find out what movies like 'Rear Window' and Vertigo' look like seeing as this is their first appearance on the format. So, we'll try to review the first-timers at the beginning and then movies like 'North by Northwest' and 'Psycho' later on since they've already received high definition treatments. Thirteen of the set's 15 titles are new to the format; the previously mentioned 'Psycho' and 'North by Northwest' are the only ones that have received previous stand-alone releases until now.

We'll update the following list of titles as we work our way through this mammoth set:

1942: 'Saboteur'
1943: 'Shadow of a Doubt'
1948: 'Rope'
1954: 'Rear Window'
1955: 'The Trouble with Harry'
1956: 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'
1958: 'Vertigo'
1959: 'North by Northwest'
1960: 'Psycho'
1963: 'The Birds'
1964: 'Marnie'
1966: 'Torn Curtain'
1969: 'Topaz'
1972: 'Frenzy'
1976: 'Family Plot'

The overall scores contained here are only a rough estimate of how the set looks and sounds. Each movie will be reviewed and scored separately, meaning the scores on this page are simply a rough summary instead of concrete evidence. The real scores will be found in the individual movie reviews themselves.


The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

First let's talk about the packaging. The 15 films are packaged together inside a very large Digi-book like packaging (which can be seen below in the pictures). Inside you'll find cardboard sleeves for each of the movie discs. They seem pretty solid as I turned them upside down and shook the book to see if any of the discs would fall out, they didn't (warning: I think this could change over time if the sleeves become worn and stretched). The book slides into a cardboard sleeve which protects it. There is also enough room in the outer sleeve to hold the set's 58-page booklet that has all sorts of original artwork, trivia, and information about the set.




I'm not sure I like the way the book has been put together. It isn't as sturdy as other book sets like 'Star Wars' or the 'Alien Anthology.' Here we're given a set that feels more like a children's pop-up book when you open it. As you turn the pages that familiar cracking creak that is heard when looking at a pop-up book can be heard here. The overhead picture below shows exactly how the packaging and binding have been put together. The good news is that each of the different movie sections features well-done, glossy artwork created for each movie using some of the original one-sheets along with a film synopsis and a list of bonus features included on the disc. Each of the 15 discs are 50GB Blu-ray Discs.



The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

As you may know this set was supposed to be released last month, but Universal pushed it back. Many speculated that the reason for this was because problems arose when reviews started surfacing for the UK edition that featured particularly harsh criticism of 'Frenzy.' Much of that controversy was focused on the opening credits. Not only was the font changed throughout the sequence, there were also misspellings within the credits. "Fictitious" had been spelled "ficticious," Angela Martelli" had been spelled "Angelea Mertelli. " This seemed like a major oversight on Universal's part.

Since this turned into such a hotbed of contention, I decided to take a look at 'Frenzy's opening credit sequence before I watched anything else. I'm pleased to announce that Universal appears to have gone back to the old credit sequence opening. The original font is back and the misspellings are nowhere to be found.

As for the rest of the set, there's plenty of stunning imagery to be had with most of these transfers, however, there are some films that needlessly suffer from the overuse of DNR and noticeable film damage. Among the crown jewels, upon first inspection, seem to be 'Rear Window,' 'The Trouble With Harry,' 'Saboteur,' and 'Vertigo.' The movies that didn't really impress me as I made my cursory pass through the series were 'The Birds' (heavy DNR here, causing strange inconsistent grain structures), 'Rope' (extremely soft with rapid color changes in the same scene, coupled with frequent film damage), and 'Shadow of a Doubt' (lots of noise, inconsistent grain, and establishing shots affected with very noticeable scratches and pockmarks).

Keep in mind that this is a quick pass through the set as I sampled each film to get an overall feel of what they are like. The individual reviews of the films will contain the most detailed information about each video presentation.


Aspect ratios are as follows:

1942: 'Saboteur': 1.33:1
1943: 'Shadow of a Doubt': 1.33:1
1948: 'Rope': 1.33:1
1954: 'Rear Window': 1.66:1
1955: 'The Trouble with Harry': 1.85:1
1956: 'The Man Who Knew Too Much': 1.85:1
1958: 'Vertigo': 1.85:1
1959: 'North by Northwest': 1.78:1
1960: 'Psycho': 1.85:1
1963: 'The Birds': 1.85:1
1964: 'Marnie': 1.85:1
1966: 'Torn Curtain': 1.85:1
1969: 'Topaz': 1.85:1
1972: 'Frenzy': 1.85:1
1976: 'Family Plot': 1.85:1

Video Scores

1942: 'Saboteur': 4.5

1943: 'Shadow of a Doubt': 3.5

1948: 'Rope': 3.5

1954: 'Rear Window': 4

1955: 'The Trouble with Harry': 4.5

1956: 'The Man Who Knew Too Much': 2.5

1958: 'Vertigo': 4

1959: 'North by Northwest': 5

1960: 'Psycho': 4

1963: 'The Birds': 4

1964: 'Marnie': 2.5

1966: 'Torn Curtain': 3.5

1969: 'Topaz': 4

1972: 'Frenzy': 3.5

1976: 'Family Plot': 2

The Audio: Rating the Sound

I was pleased with the audio across the board. I was amazed that almost every movie featured newly minted DTS-HD Master Audio (Dolby TrueHD in the case of 'North by Northwest') tracks that felt quite hefty and didn't feature any sort of hissing or age-specific problems.

The one movie that does have some very noticeable problems with audio is 'Rope.' Not only is it needlessly soft compared to the other 14 movies in the set, dialogue is unintelligible unless you crank up your receiver's volume. The dialogue that is there sounds hollow and tinny. The worst part is around the 00:03:55 mark there is a complete audio drop-out of music, sound effects and dialogue. It's bad, and the movie never really recovers in the audio department.

However, stay tuned for the individual reviews for much more in-depth dissections of each film.


Audio options are as follows:

1942: 'Saboteur': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
1943: 'Shadow of a Doubt': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1948: 'Rope': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1954: 'Rear Window': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono; Spanish: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1955: 'The Trouble with Harry': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1956: 'The Man Who Knew Too Much': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1958: 'Vertigo': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS Master-Audio 2.0 Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono; Spanish: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1959: 'North by Northwest': English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround; English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround; French Mono 1.0; Spanish: Mono 1.0; German Mono 1.0; Italian Mono 1.0; Portuguese Mono 1.0
1960: 'Psycho': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS Master-Audio 2.0 Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1963: 'The Birds': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS Master-Audio 2.0 Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono; Spanish: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1964: 'Marnie': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1966: 'Torn Curtain': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1969: 'Topaz': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
1972: 'Frenzy': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
1976: 'Family Plot': English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono

Every film has at least English SDH and Spanish subtitles. 'Sabotuer,' 'Rear Window,' 'Vertigo,' 'The Birds,' 'Psycho,' and 'Topaz' also have French subtitles. 'North by Northwest' has the aforementioned subtitles along with German, Italian, Portuguese, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, and Swedish.

Audio Scores

1942: 'Saboteur': 4

1943: 'Shadow of a Doubt': 3.5

1948: 'Rope': 3

1954: 'Rear Window': 4

1955: 'The Trouble with Harry': 4

1956: 'The Man Who Knew Too Much': 4

1958: 'Vertigo': 4.5

1959: 'North by Northwest': 4.5

1960: 'Psycho': 4

1963: 'The Birds': 4

1964: 'Marnie': 4

1966: 'Torn Curtain': 4

1969: 'Topaz': 4

1972: 'Frenzy': 3.5

1976: 'Family Plot': 4

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Each film's respective special features will be discussed on the disc-specific reviews. All of the movies seem to be paired with features that have been ported over from previous DVD releases. But believe me when I say there is a ton of content in this set. The package boasts over 15 hours of special features.


Supplement Scores

1942: 'Saboteur': 2.5

1943: 'Shadow of a Doubt': 2.5

1948: 'Rope': 2.5

1954: 'Rear Window': 4

1955: 'The Trouble with Harry': 2.5

1956: 'The Man Who Knew Too Much': 2.5

1958: 'Vertigo': 4

1959: 'North by Northwest': 4

1960: 'Psycho': 4

1963: 'The Birds': 4

1964: 'Marnie': 2.5

1966: 'Torn Curtain': 2.5

1969: 'Topaz': 3

1972: 'Frenzy': 2.5

1976: 'Family Plot': 2.5

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Besides the fact that we're getting 13 new transfers of movies that haven't been released on the format yet, and the 58-page collector's booklet (which is nice and deserves to be rewarded some points here), there are a handful of short new featurettes, which are covered below. To be thorough Universal has added the My Scenes functionality to each film. Pocket Blu App functionality has also been instated on three titles: 'The Birds,' 'Rear Window,' and 'Vertigo.'

Update: After continuing on through the set I've found a few exclusives to this set. The new features are newly produced featurettes celebrating 100 years of Universal. On 'Vertigo' we have "100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era." And on 'The Birds" there is one called "Restoring the Classics" and another called "The Lot." Finally, on 'The Birds' is a new featurette called "'The Birds': Hitchcock's Monster Movie."

Final Thoughts

Many of these films have been holy grails to Blu-ray fans. Films like 'Vertigo' and 'Rear Window' have been highly sought after ever since the format debuted. Now that we have this set, it seems clear that it isn't going to be perfect, but some of the films might come pretty close. Please continue to check back as we continually update the individual movie reviews over the next week or so. However, judging by what I've seen up until now, this one will likely end with the "Highly Recommended" status (Note: Final scores may fluctuate slightly during the course of reviewing each film individually).

Technical Specs

  • 15-Disc Set
  • 58-Page Book
  • 50GB Blu-ray Discs

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.33:1
  • 1.66:1
  • 1.78:1
  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • French: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
  • Spanish: DTS Surround 2.0 Mono
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (Bonus Features)

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, Spanish, and French

Supplements

  • Audio commentaries
  • Featurettes
  • Production photographs
  • Deleted scenes and alternate endings
  • Trailers and TV spots
  • And much more!

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$299.98
Amazon
$153.99 (49%)
3rd Party
$144.99
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

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