Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To Double-Dip or Not to Double-Dip?: October 7th Edition

The studios are mapping out their DVD release schedule for the 2008 holiday season, and even though it's still July there has already been a bevy of announcements. Many of those said releases are of the dreaded "double dip" variety. So whose going to tell you whether or not the second time will be twice as nice or to save your bucks for the inevitable triple dip? Me, that's who! This time I am focusing specifically on Universal's slate for October 7th.

A personal note, I have made a conscious decision to no longer partake in the whole double dipping brouhaha until I get around to either purchasing a widescreen television set that would allow me to better appreciate the anamorphic transfers and remastered quality or make the inevitable transition to Blu-Ray. Although most of these release may force me to break that rule.

One last note, since all of these titles are classics films of high regard I am going to save us time and condescenion and not provide any unneeded plot synopsis.

Touch of Evil (50th Anniversary Edition)

Replaces: The 2000 Restored to Orson Welles' Vision Edition

New Features: The 2000 disc featured only the 1998 restored version, this new disc offers two whole other cuts: the theatrical version that has never been released on the DVD format and a preview edition that hasn't been seen since 1958. The theatrical version has a commentary by writer F.X. Feeney and the preview version by critic and Welles' biographers Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore. The restored version features two commentary tracks, one by actors Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh that was either recorded from beyond the grave or for the first release and shelved; the other commentary is from restoration producer Rick Schmidlin. Other special features: a reproduction of the memo that spurred the restored to Welles' vision recut and two documentaries about the film and the restoration.

Is the artwork an improvement?: Yes, the stark black and white is more in keeping with Russell Metty cinematography than the blue hued 2000 DVD.

Anything that's missing?: Pretty much no, although a documentary about the legendary opening tracking shot and it's influence would have been a nice feature.

Upgrade?: A resounding yay! Especially since it's going for a mere $20.99 on Amazon, a steal for this Criterion level edition. I might break my no upgrading until Blu-Ray rule for this!

Rear Window (Special Edition)

Replaces: 2001 Collector's Edition which was included in 2005 Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection

New Features: All the features from the 2001 release as well as: Commentary with John Fawell (author of "Hitchcock's Rear Window: The Well-Made Film"), Pure Cinema, Through the Eyes of the Master documentary, Hitchcock / Truffaut Interview Excerpts, Breaking Barriers:
The Sound of Hitchcock,
Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode: "Mr. Blanchard's Secret"

Is artwork an improvement?: I don't have the 2005 collection and have not seen it's individual packaging, but its miles better than the poorly designed 2001 version artwork which feature a still from the film cropped next to a bright blue silhouette of Hitchcock and topped by Hitchcock's signature.

Anything missing?: Again, no, seems pretty complete. I guess a feature about the film's inspiration over the year that would include scenes from Body Double and that Simpsons episode where Bart breaks his leg would be nice.

Upgrade: Yay!

Psycho (Special Edition)

Replaces: 1998 Collector's Edition which was included in the 2005 Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection

New Features: All the features from the 1998 Version, plus: Commentary by author Stephen Rebello ("Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho"), Hitchcock/Truffaut interview excerpts, Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Lamb to the Slaughter"

Is Artwork an Improvement?: There are two covers from the single disc edition, one featuring the figure of Norman Bates next to the house with a production still of Janet Leigh superimposed over it and a still of Leigh screaming in the shower scene with the Hitchcock silhouette and signature template from Rear Window. This is an improvement over both.

Anything missing?: Considering the Double Indemnity Legacy Edition Universal released a few years ago included the supposedly horrid television remake, it would have been nice if instead of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, which you can find on the individual season sets, they replaced it with the only Psycho related project never released on DVD, Bates Motel, the 1987 pilot for an anthology series that was never picked up by NBC, featuring Bud Cort (of Harold and Maude fame) as the new owner of the Bates Motel. Each episode would have been a self-contained story about the lives of a visitor to the hotel featuring Cort in the wraparound.

Upgrade?: A slight yay. The commentary should be nice considering how intricate Rebello's book is, and obviously if you have a widescreen television, the anamorphic aspect is appreciated, otherwise, wait til Blu-Ray.

Vertigo (Collector's Edition)

Replaces: 1998 Collector's Edition which was included in the 2005 Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection

New Features: All the features from the 1998 Edition, plus: Commentary with Associate Producer Herbert Coleman and Restoration Team Robert Harris and James Katz, Commentary with director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, French Connection, Sorcerer), Foreign Censorship Ending, Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts, Alfred Hitchcock Presents Episode: "The Case of Mr. Pelham"

Is Artwork an Improvement:
No: I love the original Saul Bass designed poster (it's framed in my living room) sans the creepy James Stewart insert

Anything missing?:
Friedkin as a commenter is a bore, reiterating too often what's on the screen, if you want an Academy Award winning director whose a fan of the film, why not go with Martin Scorsese?


1 comment:

sean said...

you should work for entertainment weekly, they used to do something like this every once in a while. thanks to you i own most hithcock movies now, and i think i will stick with them for now. thanks for the info

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