Universally recognized as the Master of Suspense, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and unforgettable classics. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection features four iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career that are making their debut in 4K Ultra HD. Check out Ralph Potts’ review of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.


3035600



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

90



Details:

Studio and Year: Universal – 1954, 1958, 1960, 1963
MPAA Rating: PG, PG-13, R
Feature running time: 115, 129, 109, 120 minutes
Genre: Thriller, Horror

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.66:1, 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 2.0, English DTS:X (Vertigo/Psycho), DTS Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French (Brazilian, Portuguese, Japanese: The Birds)
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, Thelma Ritter, Barbara Bel Geddes, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Kim Novak
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Music by: Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann
Written by: John Michael Hayes, Alex Coppel, Samuel A. Taylor, Joseph Stefano, Evan Hunter
Region Code: A,B,C


Release Date: September 8, 2020


"4 Essential Films from the Master of Suspense"


Synopsis:

“Universally recognized as the Master of Suspense, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and unforgettable classics. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection features four iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career including Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds, that are making their debut in 4K Ultra HD.” Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.


My Take:

Rear Window
: Directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window is an edge-of-your-seat classic starring two of Hollywood's most popular stars. When a professional photographer (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbors play out across the courtyard. When he suspects his neighbor of murdering his nagging wife, he enlists his socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to help investigate the suspicious chain of events, leading to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.

Vertigo: Vertigo creates a dizzying web of mistaken identity, passion and murder after an acrophobic detective (James Stewart) rescues a mysterious blonde (Kim Novak) from the bay.

Psycho: Criminal on the run, Marion Crane take refuge at the motel operated by Norman Bates - a troubled man whose victims encounter a grisly fate at the hands of his "mother." Marion soon becomes the next victim and her disappearance prompts inquiries from her sister and a private investigator. They both soon discover the morbid bond linking Norman to his mysterious "mother" at the Bates Motel.

The Birds: Nothing equals The Birds for sheer terror when Alfred Hitchcock unleashes his foul friends in one of his most shocking and memorable masterpieces. As beautiful blond Melanie Daniels ('Tippi' Hedren) rolls into Bodega Bay in pursuit of eligible bachelor Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), she is inexplicably attacked by a seagull. Suddenly thousands of birds are flocking into town, preying on school children and residents in a terrifying series of attacks. Soon Mitch and Melanie are fighting for their lives against a deadly force that can't be explained and can't be stopped in one of Hollywood's most horrific films of nature gone berserk.

Alfred Hitchcock, a name synonymous with masterful filmmaking is recognized the world over for some of the best movies to come out of Hollywood. This collection is comprised of some of his best works, several of which are considered among the best films ever made. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres via a distinctive and recognizable directorial style developed over a career spanning more than 50 years. Many of his films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mystery plot points function as decoys or "MacGuffins" meant to underscore thematic elements and the psychological interpretations of the characters.

Alfred Hitchcock’s films are timeless. He knows how to tell a story, how to lure the audience in and exactly when to lower the boom. His films aren’t just driven by suspense but are alluring from careful examination of the characters and how they fit into the narrative like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Four of the finest works from the universally acclaimed Master of Suspense come together for the first time in Ultra HD. These captivating landmark films are some the genre's most enduring and spine-tingling classics.

Rear window’s claustrophobic spin on voyeurism, circumstantial born theory, and jarring conclusion make it one of the Hitchcock’s most engaging films. Vertigo is inspirationally compelling, speaking to the human condition on an emotional level derived from elements of mystery that will keep you guessing. Eerily frightening and dark, Psycho is among Hitchcock’s most recognized and iconic films thanks in part to one of the most memorable sequences ever shot. The Birds is a horror genre offshoot that expertly plays upon the inherent danger that Mother Nature’s inexplicability can be.

These films are some of my personal favorites from Hitchcock’s works. This set features films previously unavailable on Ultra HD Blu-ray. The eight-disc collection comes housed in an attractive book style keep case that is sturdily bound and features “pages” for storing each of the discs while including accompanying photos from each film. The “pages” are glossy cardboard which the disc’s slide into (not crazy about this method as it requires over handling of the discs in order to get them out). The book slides into a sturdy matching cardboard slipcover.

Alfred Hitchcock amassed a superlative body of work as a filmmaker and is cultural icon. This collection represents a few of his most defining films and is simply a must have for Hitchcock/4K fans.

NOTE: Psycho – Includes two versions of the film for the first time ever!
o PSYCHO UNCUT: The extended version of the movie as seen in theaters in 1960 is exactly as intended by Alfred Hitchcock and now available with additional footage for the first time ever.
o PSYCHO: The most widely seen version of the movie was edited for content and subsequently used for TV broadcasts, theatrical re-releases and home entertainment over the last 60 years.


Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

The films in this collection contain thematic material, violence and mature elements that would be inappropriate for young viewers.



AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.


Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:
Please note that I am unsure as to whether or not these films have been fully restored for this Ultra HD rendering and will assume that they have been struck from the masters used for their previous releases on Blu-ray. Two of the four films (Vertigo and Psycho) have received a new DTS:X immersive listening track. I have rated each films audio/video separately (found at the end of my comments for each) and the resulting average is what you see in the overall ratings section of the review.


Rear Window


Rear Window comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 sound.

Colors are tonally balanced with lustrous primaries (blues literally pop), clean rendering and delineated secondary hues that all look terrific. Fleshtones are warm with discernible texture and primarily natural depiction. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but most reveal subtle degrees of refinement and fidelity appears intact.

Resolution in general, is excellent as interior and mid-level shots offer clarity, detail and dimension that belie the film’s age. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enliven brighter scenes and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Grain is visible in fine even layers with no apparent signs of image degrading digital noise reduction. HDR is rarely put to the test although the sequence where Jeff uses his flashbulbs to temporarily blind Lars proved to be squint inducing.

The video has an undisturbed and visibly grainy texture that occasionally takes on more emphasis but, I never found it bothersome. Other than a hand full of shots where innate softening creeps in this video rendering looks solid.

Ultra HD Video Rating: 92


DTS-Master Audio:

The 2.0 soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio lossless and while it won’t knock your socks off, I found it delivered the components of the original recording beautifully. The auditory is clean and free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialog intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds presented in the soundstage. Purists will appreciate the time and effort that went into maintaining the integrity of this great film’s original elements. The result will allow those seeing it for the first time to experience it as close to if not better than those that saw it in the theater.

Audio Rating: 84



Vertigo


Vertigo comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS:X/Master Audio sound.

This is a dark thematic film that strives to create the look and feel of director Hitchcock’s vision. Vertigo has never made for a commanding visual experience on home video but, to me that wasn’t globally deleterious as it seemed determined by setting and, the elements necessary to convey the film’s shifting tone.

I am happy to report that its primary foundation remains fully intact while revealing layers of seemingly new levels of detail, definition, color delineation, and emboldened contrast that elevate its thematic impact. The opening credits followed by Scotty’s meeting with Gavin with its deep reds and subtle nuance looked terrific. I was impressed with the sharpness and detail in the sequence where we first see Madeline in the restaurant and later the initial shot of Midge’s loft. Wow.

The subtle minutia visible in the clothing and facial features among the members of the cast was striking. Grain remains perfectly intact, with an even and filmic essence that underscores the thematic content. The color range in the film runs the gamut but, what stood out most was the rendering of primary colors which appeared gratifying and contrastingly vivid. I also found that fleshtones appeared gradational and quite natural, especially compared to the 1080p version.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the purposefully dark/dreary sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

Ultra HD Video Rating: 100


DTS:X Audio:

In listening to the DTS:X mix I found it to be of the laid back variety, which considering the source material, wasn't surprising. More isn’t always better and this soundtrack doesn't contain an overabundance of elements that would allow for a busier object-based mix with respect to the overhead channels. In general, its use of audio objects placed above is limited to atmospherics, pointed moments and musical accompaniment. I would say that where applied it's done to good effect, coinciding with the onscreen events nicely.

As an enthusiast I appreciate a well-crafted sound mix that draws me into the onscreen elements, regardless of where the sounds are emanating from. This mix is fair, broadening the soundstage and incorporating point by point cues, both on and off camera. I thought it was a good fit and didn’t feel let down by it, ultimately enjoying the presentation as a whole.

Audio Rating: 86


Psycho


Psycho comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS:X/Master Audio sound.

Both Psycho Uncut and Psycho are presented in Ultra HD via seamless branching and the quality across both appears to be the same.

Images onscreen have excellent depth with rendering that draws out plenty of delineation. Looking at the film's opening sequence in the apartment in Arizona, the improvement in definition is noticeable. Close ups and mid-level pans reveal perceptible detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast as well as the texture on surfaces within the frame. This adds a noticeable sense of depth to the image making it appear more lifelike.

Blacks have excellent dynamic range and consistency which plays very well against the various stages of white and gray. The film uses low-level sequences that feature streaming light, shading and mixed content. The level of shadow detail here versus the 1080p rendering is improved, enhancing the variety of lighting schemes, transitions and purposeful shadows utilized in the film. I felt that the cinematography benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened blacks and shadow delineation. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout. Grain is present in fine, even layers, that appear to be preserved naturally.

This Ultra HD presentation improves upon any previous Blu-ray release. I think that due to the innate nature of the source, those differences, depending on your level of interest, may or may not be significant.

Ultra HD Video Rating: 90


DTS:X Audio:

In listening to the DTS:X mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety, which was welcomed. This audio mix doesn't contain an overabundance of elements that call for busy object-based mix with respect to the overhead channels. What I found was the when applied it emboldened the film’s thematic impact via atmospherics, jump inducing pointed moments and musical accompaniment. As mentioned earlier, I appreciate a well-crafted sound mix that draws me into the onscreen elements, regardless of where the sounds are emanating from. This mix is quite good and, a good fit which in turn made for an engaging overall presentation.


Audio Rating: 88


Psycho in 1080p

Please Note: Psycho is the only title in this set that includes a new Blu-ray release (the others include the previous Blu-ray releases). As such it includes a new 1080p rendering, DTS:X sound and Psycho Uncut/Psycho via seamless branching.

I auditioned several key sequences from the 1080p presentation against the 2012 Blu-ray release and found delineation, grain structure and contrast rendering to be slightly improved which provided stability across the board. These differences are minute but, present nonetheless.


The Birds


The Birds comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 sound.

Reminiscent of Rear Window’s Ultra HD presentation, colors are tonally balanced with lustrous primaries (particularly blues and reds), clean rendering and, delineated secondary hues that all look terrific. The scene where Melanie walks into the market upon arriving in Bodega Bay is a good example that offers a range of beautifully rendered color. Fleshtones are warm with discernible texture and primarily natural depiction. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but most reveal subtle degrees of refinement and fidelity appears intact.

Resolution in general, is excellent as interior and mid-level shots offer clarity, detail and dimension that belie the film’s age. This of course makes the effects shots used in the film stand out which is a given. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enliven brighter scenes and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during low-level transitions. Grain is visible in fine even layers with no apparent signs of image degrading digital noise reduction. HDR is rarely put to the test but, adds an enriching element to natural lighting.

The video has an undisturbed and visibly grainy texture that occasionally takes on more emphasis but, I never found it bothersome. Other than a hand full of shots where innate softening creeps in this video rendering looks solid.


Ultra HD Video Rating: 88


DTS-Master Audio:

The 2.0 soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio lossless and while it won’t knock your socks off, I found it delivered the components of the original recording beautifully. The auditory is clean and free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialog intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds presented in the soundstage. Purists will appreciate the time and effort that went into maintaining the integrity of this great film’s original elements. The result will allow those seeing it for the first time to experience it as close to if not better than those that saw it in the theater.

Audio Rating: 84


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:


Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Rear Window Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Rear Window Blu-ray
    • Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary
    • A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes
    • Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of The Master
    • Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock
    • Hitchcock/Truffaut - In 1962, filmmaker François Truffaut, aided by his translator and associate, Helen G. Scott, spent numerous hours interviewing Alfred Hitchcock for his book, Hitchcock. The audio recording of those interviews provides the soundtrack to this montage of film clips and stills, giving audiences a deeper insight into one of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces.
    • Masters of Cinema
    • Production Photographs
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Re-release Trailer Narrated by James Stewart
    • Feature Commentary with John Fawell, Author of “Hitchcock's Rear Window: The Well-Made Film”
  • Disc 3: Vertigo Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 4: Vertigo Blu-ray
    • Obsessed with Vertigo: New Life for Hitchcock's Masterpiece
    • Partners In Crime: Hitchcock's Collaborators
    o Saul Bass: Title Champ
    o Edith Head: Dressing the Master's Movies
    o Bernard Herrmann: Hitchcock's Maestro
    o Alma: The Master's Muse
    • Foreign Censorship Ending
    • Hitchcock/Truffaut - In 1962, filmmaker François Truffaut, aided by his translator and associate, Helen G. Scott, spent numerous hours interviewing Alfred Hitchcock for his book, “Hitchcock.” The audio recording of those interviews provides the soundtrack to this montage of film clips and stills, giving audiences a deeper insight into one of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces.
    • Feature Commentary with Film Director William Friedkin
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Restoration Theatrical Trailer
    • 100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era
  • Disc 5: Psycho Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 6: Psycho Blu-ray
    • The Making of Psycho
    • Psycho Sound
    • In The Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy
    • Hitchcock/Truffaut - "In 1962, filmmaker François Truffaut, aided by his translator and associate, Helen G. Scott, spent numerous hours interviewing Alfred Hitchcock for his book, “Hitchcock”. The audio recording of those interviews provides the soundtrack to this montage of film clips and stills, giving audiences a deeper insight into one of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces.
    • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
    • The Shower Scene: with and without Music
    • The Shower Sequence: Storyboards by Saul Bass
    • The Psycho Archives
    • Posters and Psycho Ads
    • Lobby Cards
    • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
    • Production Photographs
    • Psycho Theatrical Trailers
    • Psycho Re-release Trailer
    • Feature Commentary with Stephen Rebello, author of "Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho"
  • Disc 7: The Birds Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 8: The Birds Blu-ray
    • The Birds: Hitchcock's Monster Movie
    • All About The Birds
    • Tippi Hedren's Screen Test
    • Deleted Scene
    • The Original Ending
    • Hitchcock/Truffaut - In 1962, filmmaker François Truffaut, aided by his translator and associate, Helen G. Scott, spent numerous hours interviewing Alfred Hitchcock for his book, “Hitchcock.” Viewers can listen to excerpts from their discussion of The Birds.
    • The Birds is coming (Universal International Newsreel)
    • Suspense Story: National Press Club hears Hitchcock (Universal International Newsreel)
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring The Classics
    • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Alfred Hitchcock’s films are timeless. He knows how to tell a story, how to lure the audience in and exactly when to lower the boom. His films aren’t just driven by suspense but are alluring from careful examination of the characters and how they fit into the narrative like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. The 4 films in this collection are making their ultra-high definition debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray and represent some of the finest works from the universally acclaimed Master of Suspense. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent overall video quality, new sound designs (Vertigo and Psycho), a previously unavailable cut of Psycho (in both UHD and 1080p) and legacy bonus material. The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection is a must have for fans, plain and simple.








Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems