Critics' Picks : New Dvds

October 02, 2005|By CHRIS KALTENBACH

A collection from the 'Master of Suspense'

HITCHCOCK: THE MASTERPIECE COLLECTION / / UNIVERSAL / $119.98 /

ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: SEASON ONE / / UNIVERSAL / $39.98 /

Hitchcock-apalooza hits video stores Tuesday with the release of an indispensable boxed set from the justly named "Master of Suspense," along with the first season of the television show that helped make him a household name -- one of those fortuitous happenstances where fame and acclaim were both richly deserved. It would be hard to overstate Hitchcock's contributions to the cinema; certainly, no director before or since has achieved his level of prominence both behind and before the cameras. And no director has been better at keeping an audience on the edge of their seats. The 14-film, 15-disc Masterpiece Collection captures Hitchcock at his commercial peak, beginning with 1942's Saboteur and concluding with his last film, 1976's Family Plot. In between, there's Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds -- all classics, and all essential to understanding the possibilities of cinema.

Season 1 of the TV series includes episodes from 1955-56. While nowhere near as consistent in quality -- Hitchcock directed only the occasional episode -- it nevertheless showcases the master's droll, macabre wit in the introductions that he filmed for each episode.

* Special features

Each film in The Masterpiece Collection is accompanied by a documentary look at its filming, plotting, storyboarding. For insight into the master himself, don't miss Beyond Doubt: Hitchcock's Favorite Film, while Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary sheds new light on Hitchcock's most playful, and possibly his most deviant, film. There's also a bonus disc featuring 1980's American Film Institute salute to Alfred Hitchcock, with Ingrid Bergman as the master of ceremonies, and an in-depth interview with Hitchcock himself, who proves as analytical as he is droll.

ALSO ANTICIPATED

Director Sydney Pollack's 2005 thriller, The Interpreter, was not only one of the more intelligent films of the year, with Nicole Kidman as a U.N. interpreter who may be on to a murder plot and Sean Penn as a troubled detective, it also brought movie cameras inside the United Nations for the first time. Extras track the difficult negotiations that made that possible, and also offer an alternate ending.

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