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Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection
DVD disk
Oct 24, 2005 By: JaneBlo
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection order
Director:
Alfred Hitchcock

Actors:
Tippi Hedren
James Stewart
Anthony Perkins

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
NOTE: Since this Hitchcock Collection features 14 of his best films, for the purposes of this review I have chosen only three films to write about: Marnie (1964), Psycho (1960) and Rear Window (1954). The other films in the collection include The Birds, Torn Curtain, Frenzy, Vertigo, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Shadow of a Doubt, The Trouble with Harry, Topaz, Saboteur and Family Plot.

MARNIE: Marnie (Tippi Hedren) is a beautiful blonde with problems, a family history, nightmares and a bad habit of stealing and lying. Her boss and later groom Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) eventually catches on to her and decides to take care of her, and her hang-ups, himself. A beautiful sex mystery/love story with a rather daunting ending, as only Hitchcock could tell it. Psychological drama at its best, with a very heartfelt conclusion.

PSYCHO: Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is a troubled young man with ”issues” who runs the lonely, almost forgotten Bates Motel as well as stuffing birds for a hobby. He lives alone with his old mother whom he takes care of. One day, a lone woman on the run named Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) checks in for one night but does she ever check out of the eerie Bates Motel? And what’s up with Norman’s mother, the reclusive Mrs. Bates? You see, Norman is not all there and his mother is watching him. One of the best horror films ever, a true classic with a wicked cool ending and even more infamous shower scene you don’t want to miss.

REAR WINDOW: News photographer L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) starts to watch the private lives of his neighbors through his rear window while confined to his wheelchair for a few weeks at home. Eventually, he gets his gorgeous blonde socialite girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) as well as his part-time nurse to help him investigate the suspicious chain of events he believes led to a man murdering his wife across the way from his apartment. A classic Hitchcock thriller that proves why he’s the Master of Suspense.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
MARNIE: Marnie is my favorite Hitchcock film because I find it to be gentler than the others as well as being a sweet, rather unusual love story that catches us by surprise since it doesn’t start out like one. It has psychological /sex mystery elements as well which I found only added to the film’s appeal. The gorgeous blonde thief and liar Marnie, who’s always gotten away with her crimes, finally robs the wrong guy and does not get away with it this time. The chemistry between Marnie (Hedren) and her boss/husband Mark (Connery) is a good one, and these two very talented actors are very well cast, too. The color red (watch for the screen turning a beautiful red each time Marnie sees this color, very cool effect) and being handled are two things poor Marnie cannot bear and in the end, with the support and love of her husband, we can understand the mystery of Marnie’s troubles. Furthermore, Hitchcock tackling a rather sensitive subject, childhood trauma and frigidity in women, is to be commended. The film’s conclusion tugged at my heartstrings and did make some salty discharge come out of my eyes.

PSYCHO: What can one say about this, one of the most well-known and classic horror films of all time? I first saw this as a seven-year-old in Germany where I have family. I was scared out of my wits by the now terribly infamous shower scene, a scene that terrified many other moviegoers who would shower from that day on as well. The scene no longer scares me, but it still gets my heart beating a little faster. This amazing story is filmed in black and white and has a super cool suspenseful score that only adds to the thrills and the fast heartbeat. Look out for a small role played by Pat Hitchcock, in the role of the other secretary. I really liked how Norman (Perkins) plays his crazy self. He acts scary, but sometimes he acts so nice, and that’s what’s so scary, you just never know with him. The main actress here, Janet Leigh (another beautiful blonde as in so many of Hitch’s films), playing the victim who stays at the wrong motel, is a good talent but she does not stand out like Perkins does as Norman, the psycho motel-keeper. One feels Norman’s pain too, though. He is not really a bad guy, it’s just that his mother has sure done a number on him and “mother” is so difficult. Although not evil-scary like “The Ring”, this film is still on almost everyone’s top ten scary movies list of all time and it’s clear why. Wonderful story, direction by Hitchcock and acting by Anthony Perkins. Be sure to visit the infamous Bates Motel attraction on your next visit to Universal Studios in California.

REAR WINDOW: Any film starring James Stewart is a gem in my book. The man rocks, even if he is in Heaven now. But a Hitchcock film? Even better, and Stewart’s done a few of them. Not only does this film boast Stewart as its lead actor, it has the added bonus of the beautiful, regal Grace Kelly as its main actress. This story of voyeurism and paranoia is an interesting one with again, plenty of thrills to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats until the always dramatic finale that Hitchcock is so well-known for. After all, who really knows their neighbors and also people do a lot of things in private that they couldn’t possibly explain in public. What’s really going on? The suspense builds as the film advances to its climax. The performances by the actors are brilliant, we literally feel the same anxiety that Stewart feels while he’s investigating his suspicions because as always, he’s such a great actor that his emotions transfer to us. It was nostalgic seeing the late Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco as well, she died far too young for this world. As in the previous two films, the very talented Hitchcock appears in this movie too, as he traditionally has cameos in all his films. You gotta watch out for it though. Clue: In this film, he’s winding a clock in his cameo.
THE EXTRAS
MARNIE FEATURES:

The Trouble with Marnie: An hour long feature documentary on the film and its behind the scenes as discussed by several big names in the industry such as director Peter Bogdanovich, Pat Hitchcock O’Connell (Daughter), “Tippi” Hedren, and others who were directly involved with the film. I really liked this bonus, it was quite an eye-opener and I learned a lot about my favorite Hitchcock film as it covered almost every aspect from music, to costumes to visuals of the film.

The Marnie Archives: A long, (9 min.) but cool photo gallery of a whole bunch of Marnie production stills, movie posters etc. And I mean a never-ending stream of stills….

Theatrical Trailer: Hosted and narrated by Hitch himself, this is a cool trailer worth checking out. Almost 5 minutes long.

Production Notes: Very interesting facts and little known facts about the film.

PSYCHO FEATURES:

Production Notes: Some of the most interesting notes ever where we find out fun facts such as the shower scene took seven days to film.

Theatrical Trailer: Hosted by Hitchcock (in his always memorable style) on location at the Bates Motel, this is one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen, even if it is very long (7 minutes).

Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Very cool historical footage of the time this classic chiller came out. Fun stuff.

The Shower Scene, With and Without Music: The notorious scene as experienced with and without the haunting, suspenseful score. I liked comparing the two, and indeed, it’s way more scary with the musical score.

The Psycho Archives: Includes a huge quantity of production photos, publicity stills (way too many), behind-the-scenes photos (boring ones), story-boards of the shower scene by Saul Bass, (also long and not so fun to watch), lobby cards and lastly, Psycho posters and Psycho ads from all over the world. Only the ads and posters were fun to go through, the others were tedious and too long to view.

REAR WINDOW FEATURES:

Rear Window Ethics An original Documentary: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic: Directors Curtis Hanson & Peter Bogdanovich along with Hitchcock’s daughter Pat and the film’s Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy) and so many other talents involved with this film discuss the ins and outs of filming such a classic thriller. Alfred Hitchcock is also praised as a fantastic filmmaker by all interviewed. Includes a cool audio interview between Bogdanovich and Alfred Hitchcock. Very cool and interesting as anything I’ve ever seen. Approx. an hour long.

Featurette: A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes: This is not the most fun you can have listening to anecdotes (Mr. Hayes is a bit of a slow talker), although a few of them were cool and did entertain me. Approximately a quarter of an hour long.

Production Photographs: Three minutes worth of beautiful photos from the film and its actors. Movie posters (domestic and international) also featured.

Production Notes: Very interesting facts and little known facts about the film.

Re-released Trailer Narrated by Jimmy Stewart: He also narrates other Hitchcock films he’s acted in like Vertigo, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rope and of course his own personal favorite Hitch film, Rear Window. Around 6 min. long.

Theatrical Trailer: Hitchcock talks to the camera, his audience, in this great trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The previous three films are only a small selection of the titles one can find and enjoy in this 15-disc definitive collection of the Master of Suspense. The others being: The Birds, Torn Curtain, Frenzy, Vertigo, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Shadow of a Doubt, The Trouble with Harry, Topaz, Saboteur and Family Plot.

The set includes a spectacular 36-page collectible booklet. There’s also a bonus disc (about the director’s career and legacy) with special features on it such as the Masters of Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock, a documentary on the man’s career, and an AFI Salute to him. The Making of The Birds and Psycho is also included on it. This set includes an incredible 14 hours of bonus material such as commentaries, documentaries, featurettes, newsreel footage and photos and trailers.

All in all, I’d say that this collection is truly a masterpiece because Alfred Hitchcock is a genius filmmaker whose films all deserve to be seen and enjoyed by everyone, and I mean everyone who loves movies like we do! Consider also that as far as extras go, any Hitchcock fan or movie buff couldn’t ask for more than what’s included in this collection. Add this amazing 15 disc set to your DVD collection today as there are so many thrilling films in it, that it will keep you entertained, and scared, for a long time to come. Definitely worth spending money on.
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