Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K with Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho
and The Birds (1954 -
1963/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray Set)
Ultra HD Picture: B+/A-/A-/A- 1080p Picture: B Sound: B (B-:
1080p Blu-ray) Extras: B+ Films: B+/B+/A+/B
the last few decades, Alfred Hitchcock's films have been getting
slowly restored and reissued, including his oldest British films, if
not all of them yet. This is excellent news for fans of The Master
of Suspense and pure cinema all around. This includes some high
profile theatrical rereleases of films that had been out of
circulation, but have now been out on home video in various formats
for a while. Now, for the first time, four of his gems, including
three of what are arguably his best films ever, are the first of his
films to be released in the 4K format.
will be the third time and versions we have covered of Rear
and the second of The
They are all also in a much larger Blu-ray set of his films from
Universal issued on Blu-ray in two versions. We covered one of them
at this link:
also links to the three DVDs of the first time we looked at the
previous titles first and the box has its Blu-rays repeat here, save
Psycho, with its upgraded new sound and a corrected framing of
its transfer. Thus, all the previous extras are also retained in
this set and they are included on the 4K titles, unusual for the
majority of 4K releases, but the bitrates here are high and healthy.
That does not affect what we see in any major way.
that only leaves us covering the upgraded 4K discs' performance since
I summarized the films long ago and I can tell you in advance that
they all look great.
films are framed at 1.85 X 1 and are here in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR
(10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image, all
issued originally in dye-transfer,
three-strip Technicolor, save Psycho
in remarkable black & white and now correctly framed
versus the issues with the awkward framing that cut off too much of
one part of the top and side of the frame that ticked fans off. They
can be assured this is now fine.
Window was in bad shape before its restoration and in its color
separation masters, the yellow layer was shot and even gone, so that
had to be reconstructed, corrected and figured out before it was
fixed and brought back to the state it was most originally intended.
Shot on standard 35mm film in flat widescreen, the color in 4K is
even more accurate and wide-ranging than any other time I have ever
seen the film, save the 35mm three-strip Technicolor film print I saw
in theaters at the time of its exciting reissue. That print was
still a little better all around (this is in 10-bit color and not
12-bit Dolby Vision for whatever reason) but this is the next best
thing with demo shots above my letter grade and has just a couple
more flaws than the other films.
was originally shot in the large-frame VistaVision format, but the
negative was also in trouble at the time and it was decided it was
best to save the film in the smaller-but-still-large-frame 65mm color
negative format. That would help the lesser footage that was needed
to fill in a few frames not look so bad and the rest would be a
reduction print that would still retain the detail, depth and clarity
the VistaVision format would deliver. This is even closer to the
35mm color presentations I saw of this film in theaters and has even
color range than Rear
thanks to the larger format used. That also makes this the first
film shot totally in VistaVision to make it to 4K, though several
films that used the format for small parts of their films (up to most
recent Christopher Nolan films) have made it to 4K already.
is one of the greatest films ever made, my favorite Hitchcock film
and at least as effective as Vertigo
to me, but they are different kinds of films. It is also one of the
greatest black and white films ever made. I have seen this film in
almost every format it was ever issued in and some great 35mm prints,
but there are shots here that are so clear, vivid and have such
depth, you would think you were watch a Kubrick film and this is the
most effective upgrade in the set. Of course, we get more footage in
a longer version being dubbed UNCUT, some of which apparently was
issued on home video in Germany. Either way, the additions are
welcome and just confirm the masterpiece status of the film I have
been lauding all along. After endless imitators and so many bad
thrillers, especially of late, it endures better than ever and the
grey scale here is very effective, as well as the superior Video
Black. Anyone who has not seen this in 4K is in for some new shocks.
is not always given the respect it deserves and it may not be at the
higher levels of the other three films, at least not all the time,
but Hitchcock was even experimenting here and it works more often
than not, so this first of the Natural Disaster Horror films
(especially in an era of sloppy, silly, stupid digital visual
effects) remains one of the greatest films of its kind ever. In 4K,
it is even more surrealistic and the color gets you more involved.
The cast is stronger than often noted and Hitchcock was still in full
control of his filmmaking powers here.
I wish these were all 12-bit Dolby Vision color (including Psycho,
where the 12-bit would make the black and white look more like an
expensive 35mm print, though this still is very impressive) and we
should note that Hitchcock preferred matte painting, matte work
visual effects and in-studio work, so those parts of the film are
intended and not flaws or 'old filmmaking' as some might jump to say.
It was his choice and what he wanted, even as films were starting to
more and more move to location shooting, thanks to the French New
Wave and advanced in filmmaking technology. The upside is it gives
the films character and atmosphere it would not have otherwise.
for sound, the big surprise is that both Vertigo
have been upgraded to lossless, 12-track DTS: X sound. Rear
retain their fine, solid, DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless
mixes, but the other films get nice upgrades added to their Mono
films were originally theatrical mono releases, with Hitchcock
rejecting the simulated stereo option being used on all VistaVision
films being made at the time on all of his films shot in that format.
When restored, Vertigo
got a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, but fans (like me)
complained (like several films getting restored at the time) that the
audio was too much in the center channel and you can hear the 5.1 mix
only on the Vertigo
regular Blu-ray here. Now, the dialogue is more naturalistic and
brilliant Bernard Herrmann score even richer, fuller and with a
better soundstage, so this is a pleasant surprise.
the oldest monophonic film ever to get a 12-track upgrade and though
it seems some of the audio stems and soundmaster might not have
survived or as well as we would like, Universal have retained the
film's DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix for purists,
but I like the DTS: X more because the sound effects and ambient
sounds of the film have been elevated as well as the dialogue and
(again!!!) Bernard Herrmann's all-time classic music score.
monophonic films, including just about everything filmed before 1952,
really should not get such treatment, but Psycho
has a soundtrack so smart and complex for its time that this actually
works. Sure, you can hear the age of the audio and especially in
some parts, but much of it is as clear and clearer than ever and that
never sounded fake to me.
makes this (we expect only first) Hitchcock 4K collection one of the
best of any films in the format to date, will spark brand new
interest and debate on these classics and will drive fans to want all
of his films in 4K. Hope Universal started the next set!