Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection

Universal's bumper boxset brings 14 Hitchcock classics to Blu-ray

The best and worst of Hitchcock's extraordinary body of work comes together in this new boxset. Spanning the years 1942 to 1976, it includes Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy and Family Plot.

Picture: This 14-disc set is like a compendium of the highs and lows from previous Universal restorations.

The standout titles are the likes of Saboteur, Rear Window and Vertigo – all of which look absolutely first-rate (despite the fact that people will no doubt continue arguing about the contrast levels in the latter). Meanwhile, The Birds looks about as good as you could hope for, considering the amount of optical work on display.

Others such as Rope and The Trouble with Harry also hold up well, but suffer from minor issues. There's obvious red fringing during the final reel of the former and a curious ghosting effect on a handful of shots near the start of the latter.

More troublesome are Marnie and Frenzy, the former due to an ugly, intrusive and artificial-looking grain structure, while the latter has been slathered with noise reduction and had new opening titles created that are riddled with errors.

Frustratingly, Universal delayed the boxset's release to address some of these issues in the final retail version, but was unwilling to make the revised discs available for review. As such we don't know what changes will be made to the set you'll see in shops. While we expect something like the restoration of Frenzy's grain is too much to expect, we at least hope that the studio has the sense to correct easier issues such as the problem with that film's opening credits.
Picture rating: 3.5/5

Audio: The majority of the movies in the set feature restored DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono soundtracks, which do pretty much everything you could expect of them. The two exceptions are Vertigo and Psycho, which feature DTS-HD MA 5.1 remixes. The absence of the former's original mono mix is sure to disappoint purists, but it's worth pointing out that the 5.1 track is sympathetic to the original sound design, with most of the audio centred on the front of the soundstage, and only limited use of the surrounds for ambient effects and enhancing the score.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The vast majority of the extras here have been ported over from the old DVD editions of the films – but that's no bad thing as these were already comprehensive packages. At the very least, each movie gets a retrospective documentary, photo/poster gallery and trailer. Curiously, the galleries for some have been upscaled to 1080p while others are still 480p, with no discernible reason as to which title or why.

Those films considered more 'important' (such as Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds) get additional goodies that range from interviews and storyboards to screen tests and audio commentaries. The Birds also gets a brand-new 14-minute featurette comparing it to other monster movies.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: A desirable Blu-ray set, flaws and all – and some of those may yet be fixed in the final retail release

Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £150 Approx, On sale now