The Alfred Hitchcock Hour-Complete First Season (1962)
|Category||TV Drama Series||
Listing-Cast-Inside slick, episode titles plus cast.
Isolated Musical Score-On selected episodes, combined with effects.
|Year Of Production||1962|
|Running Time||1551:17 (Case: 1600)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (8)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Joseph M. Newman
Revue / MCA
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
Isolated Score & Effects Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, In period for vintage series.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Episode introductions pre-credits.|
†††† After seven successful seasons of the twenty-five minute series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in 1962 the famous director hosted a new series which was expanded to fifty minutes under the new title The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. This new series ran for three seasons, maintaining the same extraordinary quality that had cemented the original series in the viewing habits and hearts of millions worldwide. The thirty-two episodes, here presented in correct chronological order, were telecast in the USA beginning 20th September 1962, and concluding on 24th May 1963. Madman locally released the original half-hour series, five seasons of which I have reviewed, and happily for fans of "the master of suspense", all three seasons of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour are now available locally. This release should be particularly supported by Hitchcock fans as the series has not been released in the USA. There has been a messy release in Germany, available in the UK, with only ten episodes per set and not giving the episodes in telecast order. So this Madman release of material from the Universal vaults is very special indeed.
†††† This was another anthology series, a collection of individual stories without any continuing characters or themes, that each week delivered to its viewers fifty minutes of murder, mystery and intrigue. The format of these longer episodes remained true to the half hour series, beginning with the familiar theme, Charles Guonod's Funeral March of the Marionette. The brilliant openings and closes featuring Alfred Hitchcock are all here, and interestingly Hitchcock here looks considerably slimmer and healthier than he did for his hostings on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
†††† Season one is comprised of thirty-two episodes and Madman's release has them spread over eight discs. The titles and stars are:
†††† Disc Three
†††† Disc Four
†††† Disc Five
†††† Disc Six
†††† Disc Seven
†††† Disc Eight
†††† What a line-up of talent! There are great stars of the past, such as Dan Dailey and Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, by the 60s on the slide downward, lowering themselves to appear on TV. There are second-rung Hollywood stars like the vastly underrated Ruth Roman and the always interesting Anne Francis. Then we have the youngsters on the way up, the most obvious here being Robert Redford. In only his second year of TV appearances, in Episode 1, twenty-five year old Redford is seen in a supporting role, but by Episode 19 he has moved up to starring. It would still be a couple of years before Hollywood movie stardom came for the iconic star. This is a treasure trove of acting talent and famous, and not-so-famous, faces. I must mention that the seventh episode stars Dean Stockwell, surely the film world's most enduring child star. Dean Stockwellís first film was Valley of Decision in 1945 and he has three films under his name for 2013. Then in the penultimate episode Miss Diana Dors sings, and pretty good she is. Who else is old enough to remember, let alone have on their shelves, the LP album Swinging Dors? But the talent does not stop there. Amongst the directors on Season One we have Mr Hitchcock himself for one episode, John Brahm (Hangover Square), Jerry Hopper (The Private War of Major Benson), Joseph Pevney (Female on the Beach) and the great Sydney Pollack (They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Out of Africa) helms two episodes. In the music department we have Bernard Herrmann and Pete Rugulo to name just two. It was not by accident that this series delivered exceptional, entertaining TV. This is a wealth of murder, suspense and intrigue, invariably with some form of twist in the final minutes of each episode. This is an anthology that you can dip into at any time, like a loved volume of short stories waiting to be picked up, dipped into and savoured.
†††† It will give fans considerable pleasure to see how great each one of these black and white episodes looks. We have never seen them in such quality. Television in the sixties was not the crisp and clear image we see today and the detail on these discs is at times spectacular. To compensate for the general poor TV quality then available, TV series were shot in extremely brightly lit sets. Seen as they are presented in this release, many scenes look over lit and artificial. There are also close-ups that are so searingly sharp that individual eye lashes look sticky with mascara. These are minor distractions in approximately twenty-six hours of classic TV drama.
†††† No fan of Alfred Hitchcock can be without this massive collection of vastly entertaining, suspenseful drama. Seasons 2 and 3 will be reviewed very shortly.
†††† This classic drama anthology is presented at the original ratio of 1.33:1.
†††† The general quality of the image is very pleasing, although this is definitely not a credit to any restoration. It is more due to the quality of the original black and white photography, and the fact that the series was shot on 35 mm film. The transfers of the individual episodes is very uniform, with the exception of Episode 7, Annabel. There appears to have been extensive damage to the entire episode, including the credits and hostings by Alfred Hitchcock. With this exception the transfers are extremely pleasing, sharp and clear and with very good detail. This also extends to the darker scenes, such as those in the woods in Episode 2. As I said earlier close-ups are at times bizarre in their detail. The black and white photography is beautifully rendered, with very wide grey scale, deep blacks and without flaring of whites. Indicating digital processing of the image, there is the occasional instance of MPEG artefacts, particularly aliasing on fabrics and building exteriors, but these are momentary and not a real problem. There are also instances of film artefacts, with some speckling, the occasional scratch and - only once and for seconds - a rampant hair on Vera Miles, again in Episode Two. Despite these minor flaws, admirers of the series will, I feel sure, be more than satisfied with the very fine image provided in these transfers.
†††† Finally, there is a different opening to Episode 24 which is in slightly poorer condition, but it is very unusual and interesting to see. It incorporates some limited animation and a different orchestration of the theme, taken at a much slower tempo. Does anyone know the story behind this opening?
†††† There are no subtitles.
†††† There are two audio streams both English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. On selected episodes the second stream provides an isolated music score combined with some sound effects. You might particularly enjoy this feature on Episode 31, which has a greater emphasis on music, including Diana Dors singing. When the isolated track is not available, the second stream duplicates the first.
†††† This is a clean, clear mono soundtrack. Dialogue is the primary concern here, and there is not one syllable ever in doubt. There are no sync problems and no drop-outs. There is a hollowness by today's standards, but effects are fine and the music is clear and of good, if limited, aural quality. The quality of the isolated score/effects tracks is surprisingly good, rather like listening to a good quality old mono LP. There are famous names amongst the composers as well, with Hitchcock favourite Bernard Herrmann and jazz great Pete Rugulo amongst them. Throughout there is the occasional crackle and pop, but these are rare and never obtrusive. The subwoofer has a good rest.
†††† There is nothing in the audio department that will detract from your enjoyment of these classic dramas.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† Nothing. We get so much about the popular successful movies from Hitchcock. How nice it would have been to be given as an extra a documentary that concentrates on his TV output.
††††The menu is the same for each of the eight discs, the only changes being in the episode details. The menu is presented over a monochromatic graphic of the director's profile and the famous Guonod theme.
††††Each episode title is listed with the names of stars appearing. On approximately one episode per disc, episode selection is immediately followed by the voice of Hitchcock giving one of his famous "Good evening" welcomes - then we go to the episode itself. Selected episodes have an isolated score/effects track.
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†††† The Alfred Hitchcock Hour has been released locally by Madman, giving us the entire ninety-six episodes in correct, telecast order. Season One presents the first thirty-two tales in the anthology, utilising quality cast, directors and scripts. This is TV drama of the 60s at its very best. The quality, with prints from the Universal vaults, will delight any fan. There are minor blemishes - total restoration would have been prohibitive - but the transfers are basically clean, sharp, clear and of outstanding visual quality. This is twenty-six hours of wonderful TV nostalgia and entertainment. It is a pity that there are no extras, but at least we have the historic show itself.
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|