Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection: Universal Horror.

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by One-Shot Scot, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. On the surface, this seems like a great deal: 14 classic Hitchcock titles at
    a street price of around $80 -- under $6 per title -- plus a Hitchcock bonus
    disk, which is not available separately. And for the first time, anamorphic
    versions of _Psycho_ and _Vertigo_! Many of these masterpiece titles started
    out with $35 list prices, so Universal's Hitchcock masterpiece grab bag is a
    great deal for those who haven't already purchased too many of these titles
    at their ridiculously-high original prices. (The only disks that I actually
    wanted were the anamorphic versions _Psycho_ and _Vertigo_, even though I
    already have the non-anamorphic versions of these titles.) However, at $6
    per disk, I am glad to also get _Shadow of a Doubt_, _Saboteur_, _The Man
    Who Knew Too Much_, _Marnie_, and _Frenzy_. I already have _Rear Window_.

    I opened my Hitchcock masterpiece collection with some apprehension. There
    was a beautiful felt-covered box, with 4 separate disk containers, each
    holding 4 disks. The unfortunate problem with this particular package is
    that the disks are stacked -- the 2 disks in back are covered by the 2 disks
    in front. In order to remove the back disks, you must first remove the front
    disks. Because the packaging is so bad, I have transferred all of the disks
    to slimline CD cases.

    Previously, Universal's hand-loaded multi-disk DVD boxes suffered from
    fingerprint contamination and scratches. However, all of these Hitchcock
    disks are free of defects -- with one exception: _Shadow of a Doubt_ has a
    couple of deep scratches on its outer edge. At first, the scratches seemed
    to be out of the data area, but alas, the picture began to freeze and skip
    26 minutes into the movie. Then, after the layer change, the same thing
    happened again.

    On the bright side, 93% the disks in the Hitchcock collection are in good
    condition. However, because one of the disks is scratched, I will need to
    return the entire collection. What I am hoping to do is retrieve a playable
    _Shadow of a Doubt_ from another Hitchcock collection without having to
    return the entire set. There is a good chance that a new set will also have
    at least one scratched disk. The best solution to this pig-in-a-poke problem
    would be for the retailer to cannibalize good disks from returned sets and
    exchange them for damaged disks.

    Having to return 14 good DVDs because one disk in the set is defective seems
    like such a waste. Buying multi-disk collections is always risky and this
    risk increases as the number of disks increases. What makes the Hitchcock
    collection problem so acute is that it is not simply a bundled group of
    Amaray-boxed titles which are available separately. If this were the case, I
    would be able to exchange only _Shadow of a Doubt_, without having to return
    14 good disks along with it. (Yes, I know that _Shadow of a Doubt_ is
    available separately, but the silkscreen art on the disk wouldn't match the
    rest of the Masterpiece collection and supposedly, this title has also been
    "re-mastered.")

    Actually, if these titles were available separately, I would probably have
    bought only the anamorphic versions of _Psycho_ and _Vertigo_ and called it
    quits. If the other titles had been priced separately at around $10 each, I
    would most likely have bought a couple of them as well.

    Has anyone else had a bad experience with the Hitchcock Masterpiece
    Collection?
     
    One-Shot Scot, Oct 5, 2005
    #1
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  2. On Wed, 5 Oct 2005 08:37:03 -0700, "One-Shot Scot" <>
    wrote:

    >Has anyone else had a bad experience with the Hitchcock Masterpiece
    >Collection?


    I haven't purchased the set yet, but I do have a question for you.
    Does 'Vertigo' have an option for you to play the movie with the
    original mono soundtrack? Although the video restoration was great, I
    hated the annoyingly intrusive foley sounds in the new soundtrack.
     
    Prince of Orange, Oct 7, 2005
    #2
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  3. "Prince of Orange" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > On Wed, 5 Oct 2005 08:37:03 -0700, "One-Shot Scot" <>
    > wrote:
    >
    > >Has anyone else had a bad experience with the Hitchcock Masterpiece
    > >Collection?

    >
    > I haven't purchased the set yet, but I do have a question for you.
    > Does 'Vertigo' have an option for you to play the movie with the
    > original mono soundtrack? Although the video restoration was great, I
    > hated the annoyingly intrusive foley sounds in the new soundtrack.



    If you thought that the video quality of the first non-anamorphic _Vertigo_
    DVD looked good, you will be amazed by the vast improvement of the
    anamorphic version. I am embarrassed to admit that I bought the Hitchcock
    Masterpiece Collection primarily to get the anamorphic _Vertigo_.

    Yes, the original monaural 2.0 soundtrack has been included in the new
    release and is sounds better to me than the phony, dolled up 5.1 soundtrack.
    And speaking of dolled up, even though _Doll's Funeral March_ was the theme
    for Hitchcock's TV show, someone at Universal decided that it would make
    great background music for the _Vertigo_ DVD menus. They were wrong.

    The differences between the fake 5.1 soundtrack and the original 2.0 can be
    clearly heard in the opening scene of the rooftop chase. The sound of the
    two gunshots have a hollow ring and forced reverberation in 5.1, but in 2.0
    mono, they sound very natural. The sound of the men's shoes on the shingled
    roof sound dull and lifeless in 5.1, in 2.0 the sound is much more natural.
    Even the music sounds better in 2.0.

    Here are all of the "Languages" options for the new anamorphic _Vertigo_:

    Spoken Language

    English 5.1

    English 2.0 Mono

    Feature Commentary -- With Associate Producer Herbert Coleman,
    Restoration Team Robert A. Harris and James C Katz and other
    _Vertigo_ Participants. (This option is located in the Bonus Materials
    menu.)

    Subtitles

    English SDH*

    Español

    Français

    *subtitled for the deaf & hard of hearing

    *** It is not necessary to go the menu to change from one audio track to
    another or from one subtitle track to another. All of the audio and subtitle
    options can be changed with the Audio or Subtitle buttons on the remote
    control.

    Now here is a paradox which will be of interest only to TRUE _Vertigo_ fans:

    Madeleine leads Scottie from her home, to the flower shop, to Mission
    Delores, to the Palace of the Legion of Honour and then to the McKittrick
    Hotel, where she ultimately vanishes. It is this incident at the McKittrick
    Hotel which adds a great deal of mystery and intregue to this outstanding
    film.

    Beginning 28 minutes into the film, Scottie watches Madeleine get out of
    her green Jaguar and walk up the front steps to the McKittrick Hotel.
    Next, he sees her open a window on the second floor above the front
    door. But when he goes inside and asks the manager at the desk
    (played by Ellen Corby) about this, she says that "Miss Valdes" hadn't
    been in that day. "No, she hasn't been here at all. I would have seen
    her, you know." And the room key is still on the rack. So they both go
    upstairs to check the room and Madeleine is gone.

    After Madeleine vanishes from the hotel, her car again appears in front
    of her apartment building and the flowers are still in the car. The flowers
    are the only tangible evidence of any of Madeleine's travels.

    What in the world is going on here? Did Madeleine disappear? Was the
    desk clerk in on the scheme? Was Scottie hallucinating?

    The basic premise of _Vertigo_ is that there was a murder conspiracy
    between only two people: Gavin Elster and Judy Barton. The discovery of
    a third conspirator puts a whole new spin on things. In the supplemental
    features of the DVD, there is an alternate ending in which Midge and
    Scottie hear a radio report stating that the police are closing in on
    Elster. Things are tied up neatly with Judy dead and Elster about to be
    captured.

    Things aren't so neatly tied up with a third conspirator at large.
    Admittedly, the manager of the McKittrick Hotel probably didn't have a
    clue about the murder. However, it makes me wonder how many others were
    duped into unknowingly aiding and abetting Elster's murder plot.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00006JKCX/102-8131998-7046534?v=glance
     
    One-Shot Scot, Oct 8, 2005
    #3
  4. On Sat, 8 Oct 2005 08:22:02 -0700, "One-Shot Scot" <>
    wrote:

    >"Prince of Orange" <> wrote in message
    >news:...
    >> On Wed, 5 Oct 2005 08:37:03 -0700, "One-Shot Scot" <>
    >> wrote:
    >>
    >> >Has anyone else had a bad experience with the Hitchcock Masterpiece
    >> >Collection?

    >>
    >> I haven't purchased the set yet, but I do have a question for you.
    >> Does 'Vertigo' have an option for you to play the movie with the
    >> original mono soundtrack? Although the video restoration was great, I
    >> hated the annoyingly intrusive foley sounds in the new soundtrack.

    >
    >
    >If you thought that the video quality of the first non-anamorphic _Vertigo_
    >DVD looked good, you will be amazed by the vast improvement of the
    >anamorphic version. I am embarrassed to admit that I bought the Hitchcock
    >Masterpiece Collection primarily to get the anamorphic _Vertigo


    I've gone ahead and placed an order for the set, and I have to admit,
    getting an Anamorphic copy of Vertigo is a huge selling point. It's
    my favorite film of all time and I'm happy to see it getting the
    treatment it deserves (now all I need is a widescreen TV!)

    >
    >Yes, the original monaural 2.0 soundtrack has been included in the new
    >release and is sounds better to me than the phony, dolled up 5.1 soundtrack.
    >And speaking of dolled up, even though _Doll's Funeral March_ was the theme
    >for Hitchcock's TV show, someone at Universal decided that it would make
    >great background music for the _Vertigo_ DVD menus. They were wrong.
    >
    >The differences between the fake 5.1 soundtrack and the original 2.0 can be
    >clearly heard in the opening scene of the rooftop chase. The sound of the
    >two gunshots have a hollow ring and forced reverberation in 5.1, but in 2.0
    >mono, they sound very natural. The sound of the men's shoes on the shingled
    >roof sound dull and lifeless in 5.1, in 2.0 the sound is much more natural.
    >Even the music sounds better in 2.0.


    I'm jazzed about the original soundtrack being included as an option!
    The gunshots in the 5.1 version sounded more like cannon shots to me,
    and the shoe sound effects were awfully loud in just about every scene
    where walking was involved. The problem with the newer soundtrack was
    that it didn't sound natural (as you've pointed out); it kept
    reminding me of the filmmaking process and dragged me out of the
    story.

    Gounod's 'Funeral March of a Marinotte' for the Vertigo menus? I love
    the piece, but I agree that it's all wrong for Vertigo. However,
    that's an extremely minor quibble considering what we're getting in
    this new release.

    I find it interesting that you think the music sounds better as well.
    I'm curious to see if I agree after I watch the film again. It's my
    favorite movie score and I own 3 different versions of it (2 of them
    from the original soundtrack, conducted by Muir Mathieson, and one a
    re-recording by Joel McNeely of the Royal Scottish National
    Orchestra). Of course, I prefer the original soundtrack, but the
    masters were irreparably damaged and the damage is obvious when
    playing either of the original soundtrack CDs. I didn't mind the
    soundtrack being 'cleaning up' during the restoration process, it was
    the newer foley sounds that irked me.

    As you sound like a fan of the film, I wanted to recommend a book, if
    you don't already know about it. It's called 'Vertigo- the Making of
    a Hitchcock Classic' and it's written by Dan Auiler.

    Thanks for your response!

    Bob
     
    Prince of Orange, Oct 9, 2005
    #4
  5. "Prince of Orange" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    <<I've gone ahead and placed an order for the set, and I have to admit,
    getting an Anamorphic copy of Vertigo is a huge selling point. It's my
    favorite film of all time and I'm happy to see it getting the treatment it
    deserves (now all I need is a widescreen TV!)>>

    I can't say that I appreciate the arm twisting that Universal has done in
    order to get people re-purchase Hitchcock movies. Anamorphic versions of
    _Vertigo_ and _Psycho_ should be made available separately.

    <<I'm jazzed about the original soundtrack being included as an option! The
    gunshots in the 5.1 version sounded more like cannon shots to me, and the
    shoe sound effects were awfully loud in just about every scene
    where walking was involved. The problem with the newer soundtrack was that
    it didn't sound natural (as you've pointed out); it kept reminding me of the
    filmmaking process and dragged me out of the story.>>

    In the commentary track, the participants talk about using separate
    dialogue, sound effect and music tracks. Apparently, in order to create a
    stereo soundtrack from Bernard Herrmann's _Vertigo_ score (part of which was
    originally recorded in stereo), the original sound effects would need to be
    recreated. As if this weren't bad enough, I have noticed that some sound
    effects have been added to the 5.1 mix, where none existed before in the
    original mono mix.

    In a night scene outside of Scotty's apartment, the 5.1 version adds cricket
    chirping to the mix and it appears that chirping birds have been added to
    the sequoia forest scene. The most annoying part of the 5.1 soundtrack is
    its boosted low bass, which keeps the subwoofer throbbing annoyingly. Often,
    the 5.1 soundtrack amplifies effects which are best left as they originally
    were. When the directional queues are added to the stereo mix, such as the
    psycho acoustic effect of passing cars being panned across the screen, the
    5.1 soundtrack becomes a distraction, rather than an enhancement.

    <<As you sound like a fan of the film, I wanted to recommend a book, if you
    don't already know about it. It's called 'Vertigo- the Making of a
    Hitchcock Classic' and it's written by Dan Auiler.>>

    Thanks for the recommendation. I just ordered this book and _Footsteps in
    the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco_. Maybe by the time these books
    arrive, the earthquake retrofitting will be completed and getting into the
    city by way of the Bay Bridge will be a lot easier.

    <<Thanks for your response!>>

    _Vertigo_ is one of my all time favorite movies and I enjoy discussing it.
     
    One-Shot Scot, Oct 9, 2005
    #5
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