I have grown up a student of film from a very young age. I have been collecting for almost 15 years now. It is an art form that I could study forever, and probably will. I had a very influential high school film teacher who exposed me to some of the early classics I had never seen before. Although I had been fairly familiar with Hithchcock’s work at this point, viewing his work in this class shed a new light on my love for film. We talked in depth as a class about the different elements of film, and why a Director would make a certain choice to show the audience something the way they did. I do have to admit, the teacher and I did most of the talking. I was not shy to share my opinions on the movies we were watching, and felt like I had a lot to offer. But I learned the most by simply watching. Hitchcock has become one of my top five directors ever to film a movie.
My big focus as a collector has really shifted quite a bit. I have really sought after collector’s sets that I feel have to be on my shelf. My range is not that wide in terms of sets that I am willing to put money down for. And to be honest, most of my collection is digital at this point. That being said, a couple months ago, Universal released a set I could not say no to. “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” comes packed with 15 of Hitchcock’s best films. “Psycho” (my personal favorite), “Rear Window”, and “The Birds” are among the most notable of the films you will find in this set, but it goes much further than that. The set boasts “Saboteur”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Rope”, “Rear Window”, “The Trouble with Harry”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho”, “The Birds”, “Marnie”, “Torn Curtain”, “Topaz”, “Frenzy”, and “Family Plot” (Hitchcock’s final film).
This is a great collection, however, there are a few glaring mistakes here. I really feel like we should be seeing “Dial M for Murder”, “The 39 Steps” and “Strangers on a Train”. I’m not sure why these three hugely popular titles are missing. But nonetheless, we get a great collection of films from the Master of Suspense.
The box set itself is very well put together. It is housed by a very sturdy cardboard box. But it has more of a build than cardboard. Inside we get a book insert, “The Master of Suspense”. It offers a great glimpse into the films and includes some memorable quotes. The Blu Ray discs can be found in a book format catalog. Each film has a full foldout that includes original poster art work of the film as well as a quote from the film, and a rundown of the special features that are included.
The discs also feature great artwork from the film. It should be mentioned that the discs are a little hard to take out of their sleeve. But on the upside, they are held in very well, so you won’t have discs flying out as you open the book.
I haven’t had a chance to view all of the films on Blu Ray, but from what I read, there is a varying range of quality of film transfers. I don’t doubt that Universal has done their due diligence with this set, but I will have to see for myself.
Overall, I am very impressed with this set. It should be on the shelf of any serious Hitchcock fan, even given the omission of some of the great Hitchcock films.
-David B. Harrington