by Aaron Peck
Nine, count them, nine Alfred Hitchcock movies have been released on Blu-ray. His films are spread out through numerous studio catalogues, so getting the releases that we want can be a frustrating process indeed.
Still, I'm surprised more of Hitchcock's famous films haven't been released on the format. Beside Steven Spielberg I can't think of a director who has had such a slow emergence on Blu-ray.
MGM recently released several Hitchcock movies on the format, including 'Rebecca,' 'Spellbound,' and 'Notorious.' Paramount's masterful release last week of 'To Catch a Thief' added to the riches, but it's not enough!
You'd think such a heralded director would garner more Blu-ray attention! Hitchcock really was the master of suspense, and his films have stood the test of time. Lets take a look at what's left in Hitchcock's filmography and pick out 10 titles that need to be released in high definition right this very minute! Universal seems to be hording the largest number of them!
I remember being petrified of seagulls after seeing 'The Birds.' Seeing this film as a kid had a worse effect on me than watching 'Jaws' for the first time. In my mind I could easily stay away from the ocean and avoid man-eating sharks, but seagulls are everywhere. How was I supposed to be kept safe from them? My parents tried to explain to me that it was all just a movie; that birds didn't really attack whole towns of people like blood-thirsty avian dive bombers, but I didn't believe them. The way Hitchcock set up the situation added to my dread. Had it been a cheesy movie like 'Birdemic' there would've been no reason to be frightened. It was the way Hitchcock masterfully ramped up the fear factor by using what should've been a laugh-worthy premise. But, when that flock of birds attacked all those school children I lost it. I was literally afraid to go out for recess the next day.
Note: 'The Birds' is rumored for an August release this year, but we'll have to wait and see if that actually pans out.
'Dial M for Murder'
Originally filmed in 3D, 'Dial M for Murder' makes an interesting case for Blu-ray. Not only am I jonesing for the 2D version on Blu-ray, it would be great to see how a classic like this translates to today's 3D. I'm not a huge fan of the technique, but I'd love to see what 'Dial M for Murder' looks like since Hitchcock filmed it with the technology in mind. It looks as if the UK is getting the 3D version of the film at some point in the near future, but there's really been no word on if we'll get the 2D release here, let alone the 3D version.
This is another one of Hitchcock's classics. The director managed to build suspense through his characters. Set entirely in a lifeboat, a handful of survivors float around hoping to be rescued. The situation begins to take its toll and tensions rise. 'Lifeboat' accomplishes in one movie what survival TV shows like 'Lost' and 'The Walking Dead' try to accomplish in multiple seasons. How do strangers live together? Especially if they suspect the others are up to no good. It's a simple premise that lays bare the foibles of humanity and just how tenuous the situation can get when people are pushed to the brink. Also, fun to look for Hitchcock's signature cameo in this situation. Watch for him, he's there!
'The Man Who Knew Too Much'
Take your pick, either the original or the remake, I'd love to have both on Blu-ray. Personally, I'd love to have the 1956 remake more than his original version just because I really enjoyed Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day in the starring roles. One of Hitchcock's favorite topics, an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary situations is on full throttle here. Truthfully, I enjoy this movie just as much as I like 'North by Northwest.' Hope we see it in HD soon.
This is probably my favorite Hitchcock movie. Hitchcock brilliantly played with point of view here. The only information we are privy to comes from what we and Jeff observe from his apartment window. Stuck at home with a broken leg, all he can do is look out over a courtyard surrounded by other apartments. This is a perfect way of building suspense. Seeing only what Jeff sees allows us to get inside his mind, his building paranoia. The way Hitchcock pieces together this masterpiece make the viewer feel actual tension and paranoia building up inside of them. For all intents and purposes we are Jeff. It's still one of cinema's most thrilling rides.
Hitchcock himself has said that 'Rope' was nothing more than a stunt. An experiment in what he could achieve with the medium of film. Filmed in only 10 shots, 'Rope' may not make the greatest Hitchcock movie, but there really is some masterful and inventive filmmaking going on during this movie. This is experimental filmmaking that I'd love to have in my high-def collection one day.
We simply need more black and white movies on Blu-ray. The 1936 film 'Secret Agent' would be a wonderful addition, as we've seen over and over the kind of detail that black and white films are capable of once they hit the format. As a Hitchcock film 'Secret Agent' is solid and deals with Hitchcockian themes like mistaken identity. It's been a long time since I've watched it, but I remember enjoying it a lot.
'Shadow of a Doubt'
All of Hitchcock's films were immaculately filmed. He selected camera angles and compositions that not only showed the scene but played a major part in foreshadowing events and building the story. Besides the great suspense built throughout the movie, I remember the distinct way the film was shot. Hitchcock's use of the camera is simply masterful. He was able to convey tension and fear simply by where he placed his camera and how he used the lenses. I'd love to see this masterful film in HD.
One of Hitchcock's most famous films, which is why I'm surprised it doesn't have a Blu-ray release yet. It's almost to the point where I half expect to get on Amazon and for it to be there ready and waiting for me to purchase it, but every time I'm disappointed.
I love the way Roger Ebert explains, in his review of 'Vertigo,' why Hitchcock was so good at what he did. "Alfred Hitchcock took universal emotions, like fear, guilt and lust, placed them in ordinary characters, and developed them in images more than in words. His most frequent character, an innocent man wrongly accused, inspired much deeper identification than the superficial supermen in today's action movies."
'The Wrong Man'
Another man wrongfully accused, but even though Hitchcock fell back on this main theme of storytelling, he still found ways to keep it fresh and filled with suspense. It's so easy for us to relate to the everyday guy in Hitchcock's stories then we get to wondering what we'd do if we were in that situation. What if you were accused for something you didn't do? That's a great question to ask. Hitchcock asked it over and over, but was still able to maintain new ways of conveying that theme across to the audience.
With so many movies in his filmography I had to shorten up my list to my ten most wanted titles, but I know you film fans out there would love to see many more than just the ones I've listed here. What other titles from Hitchcock's illustrious career would you love to finally see make the jump to Blu-ray? Please, take a moment to click on the link below and let us know in the forums.