The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4K review by Bobby Blakey
Love him or hate the man, there is no denying that Alfred Hitchcock was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His attention to detail and ability to build suspense was second to none. Now Paramount is bringing four of his classics together on 4K including Rear Window, Vertigo, The Birds and Psycho including the Psycho Uncut version exactly as it was seen in theaters in 1960 with The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection.
None of these films need reviews at this point being the classics they are, but believe it or not I had never sat down and watched some of them. I’ve never been a big fan of Jimmy Stewart which is likely why I didn’t ever watch Vertigo or Rear Window, but after my first time full viewing do they hold up or change my mind about Stewart?
Rear Window from 1954 follows Professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies who breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.
I love these old movies and the overall Hollywood look and feel of them. This is such a simple, but complex story but thanks to Hitchcock’s brilliant eye it delivers so much. Stewart along with the rest of the cast are excellent. His everyman persona is perfect for these kinds of roles, but add to the mix that he is having to deliver the entire performance from a Wheelchair in a cast just adds the nuance and helplessness of the character. I was hoping for a bit more suspense here from what I had perceived, but it still works great to build up to the climax despite no real big twist.
1958s Vertigo follows John "Scottie" Ferguson, a retired San Francisco police detective who suffers from acrophobia, and Madeleine is the lady who leads him to high places. A wealthy shipbuilder who is an acquaintance from college days approaches Scottie and asks him to follow his beautiful wife, Madeleine. He fears she is going insane, maybe even contemplating suicide, as he believes she has been possessed by a dead ancestor who committed suicide. Scottie is skeptical, but agrees to the assignment after he sees the beautiful Madeleine.
This was yet another that worked way better than I had expected. Unlike Rear Window this one worked way better for me with the twists and turns to really keep you guessing. Sure there are some obvious directions to where some of it is heading, but overall it delivers the kind of mystery and intrigue I expect from Hitchcock. Once again I will admit to really digging Stewart in this role. He is pretty much Stewart in every role which has always been my issue, but his everyman persona just works for both of them. I know this isn’t the same character from Rear Window, but could have been interchangeable and turned into a sequel that would have made it all the more interesting, but that’s just my silly talk.
In 1963 Hitchcock brought a different kind of film with The Birds that follows Melanie Daniels a modern rich socialite, part of the jet-set who always gets what she wants. When lawyer Mitch Brenner sees her in a pet shop, he plays something of a practical joke on her, and she decides to return the favor. She drives about an hour north of San Francisco to Bodega Bay, where Mitch spends the weekends with his mother Lydia and younger sister Cathy. Soon after her arrival, however, the birds in the area begin to act strangely. Soon, birds in the hundreds and thousands are attacking anyone they find out of doors. There is no explanation as to why this might be happening, and as the birds continue their vicious attacks, survival becomes the priority.
While this film plays up more like a monster movie of sorts but using birds it still works to build the usual Hitchcock intrigue. For the first hour or so the film is nothing but a budding and often mysterious relationship that builds between the characters. I have always found this movie to be so slow despite some of the build up being necessary to really delve into the characters. What makes this film somewhat scary when it finally gets to something happening is the use of mostly real birds. The idea of this movie is way more terrifying than the real thing, but is pretty enjoyable once the attacks really begin. Despite it not being the usual thriller it still scream Hitchcock with his unique storytelling and visuals.
Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho is no doubt one of his most iconic and an early take on the slasher film. The films follows Phoenix office worker Marion Crane who is fed up with the way life has treated her. One Friday, Marion is trusted to bank forty thousand dollars by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam's California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into the Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.
I have seen this film 100s of times and love it more every time. The familiar tropes that we know now of the slasher genre merged into the stylistic horror thriller of Hitchcock is a masterpiece. Outside of Hitchcock’s dark violent vision this film really works thanks the awkward and sometimes disturbing performance of the late great Anthony Perkins. He embodies Norman so deeply and clearly loved playing the character since he returned for 3 sequels. While this film is considered by most as the earliest version of a slasher film it offers up so much more. There is a deeper story of mental illness and abuse disguised in the violence and mystery of it all. Even knowing the twist I still love the reveal as well as the iconic shower scene which I still feel is one of the most beautifully shot kills in cinema history. Getting to see the film in its originally uncut version fully enhances the experience to make it an even better film than I had already loved.
This collection features all four of these films in a beautiful 4K transfer. A lot of time with these transfers you can’t really see much different but these are just beautiful. Those in color are all the more vibrant than I have ever seen before and the black and white of Psycho is crystal clear and better than ever. In addition to the films which is enough of a reason to get this set it also includes loads of bonus content including documentaries, trailers, commentaries, featurettes and so much more.
This is an awesome set for any fan of these classic films or the perfect chance to see them for the first time ever. Grab your copy of The Alfred Hitchcock Collection available now on 4K that also includes the films on Blu-ray and digital from Universal Home Entertainment.