Overall | Dial M for Murder (1954) | The Wrong Man (1956) | Stage Fright (1950) | I Confess (1953)

Alfred Hitchcock Collection (Warner)

Alfred Hitchcock Collection (Warner)

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Released 16-Nov-2004

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Overall Package

    This Region 4 version of The Hitchcock Collection from Warner Home Video contains 4 very good to classic Hitchcock films from the 1950s. Unfortunately, the equivalent Region 1 set contains 9 such films. The extra ones are Foreign Correspondent, Mr & Mrs Smith, Suspicion, Strangers on a Train - 2 Disc Special Edition & North by Northwest. Of these, only the last two are even available in Region 4 at the current time. I understand that there is some sort of rights issue over the three unreleased movies which is why they cannot be released by Warner Home Video in Region 4. On this basis, the Region 1 box set is clearly the better choice. Additionally, Dial M for Murder is not in the correct aspect ratio in the Region 4 version but is in Region 1.

    Leaving aside the issue mentioned above, this set contains four films of high quality, all of which should be in the collection of any serious movie lover and especially any fan of the work of Alfred Hitchcock. The video transfers are generally of very good quality for the age of the films and the audio is generally good but mono. Two of the four films are in widescreen but only one of them should be. Nonetheless, I have greatly enjoyed watching and reviewing these movies.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | Dial M for Murder (1954) | The Wrong Man (1956) | Stage Fright (1950) | I Confess (1953)

Dial M for Murder (1954)

Dial M for Murder (1954)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Hitchcock And Dial M
Featurette-3D: A Brief History
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1954
Running Time 101:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Ray Milland
Grace Kelly
Robert Cummings
John Williams
Anthony Dawson
Leo Britt
Patrick Allen
George Leigh
George Alderson
Robin Hughes
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Dimitri Tiomkin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is the best known of the four films included in the newly released Warner Home Video collection of Alfred Hitchcock films made for Warners between 1950 and 1957, and the only one in colour. They are not available separately. The reviews of the first three films I reviewed from this set are here: Stage FrightI Confess and The Wrong Man. As I divulge in those reviews, I am a lover of Hitchcock's work.

    Dial M for Murder is classic Hitchcock and probably the best of the films in this box set. It is one of Hitchcock's more theatrical films, which considering that it is a filmed stage play, should not be very surprising. The action basically takes place in one room, with only small sections outside of the room. Even those are mostly the view from the window or one of the adjoining rooms. Despite this seemingly confined viewpoint, Hitchcock has made a film which is riveting from start to finish. It is full of great performances, great dialogue, interesting camera angles and excellent use of shadows. In this regard it bears some similarities to Rope, the earlier Hitchcock film also made in one room, although the stories are quite different. In inimitable Hitchcock style, there are some funny jokes included such as the policeman walking away with Margot's handbag. There are also some other interesting visual motifs such as the telephone dial close-ups, the sequence when Margot is on trial and the use of colours, especially with regard to Grace Kelly.

    Interestingly, this film was made during the initial craze for 3D movies and was made for 3D. Hitchcock, sensibly, used the 3D effects quite minimally. You can see parts of the film which would have jumped out at you in 3D such as Grace Kelly's hand during the murder scene and the key as Ray Milland hands it to the camera. The DVD is in normal 2D which is how the film was mostly shown after a short initial run in 3D. It would seem the choice to make the film 3D was not Hitchcock's but the studio's. Besides the 3D effects, this is one of Hitchcock's less showy films with less of the elaborate set pieces that other films like Strangers on a Train have. The effects here are more subtle but no less powerful. A perfect example is the use of shadows to show the adulterous couple moving away from each other when the husband returns.

    The plot itself is key to this film's success and Hitchcock based the film on a play by Frederick Knott that had been popular just before the film was made. The story is set in London and involves an ex-tennis player who has recently hung up his racquets, Tony Wendice (Ray Milland). He discovers that his wife, Margot (the luminous Grace Kelly), has been having an affair with an American friend of hers, Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), who arrives at the beginning of the film for a visit to London. Wendice decides to have his wife killed both for her infidelity and for her money, as he does not have much himself. He concocts an elaborate scheme which involves both Halliday and an old college acquaintance of his, Charles Swann, AKA Capt Lesgate (Anthony Dawson). He believes his scheme to be the perfect murder and is very confident about it working but, of course, everything does not go according to plan and soon he is having to react to changing conditions as they occur. The only other important character is the investigating policeman, Chief Inspector Hubbard (wonderfully played by John Williams, a Hitchcock regular). The ending is excellent and the movie holds your attention from start to finish even when you have seen it before (as I had).

    Hitchcock's appearance is a bit different in this film, as he only appears in a photograph rather than in person. The photo is shown at 12:50 and he appears on the left hand side. Once again the casting is excellent as are the performances, particularly Ray Milland as the ice cold and intelligent Tony Wendice. One interesting piece of trivia about this film is the intermission which occurs at the half-way point of what is quite a short film. The featurettes reveal that this was necessary in a 3D film to allow for reloading of the projectors, as two projectors were used to project a 3D film.

    A classic Hitchcock to round out the box set.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good for a film of this vintage but does show some residue of its 3D origins. It is also not in the original aspect ratio.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is not the original aspect ratio. This film was originally made in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and has been cropped to the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I have read that it was sometimes shown in widescreen theatrically. The Region 1 NTSC transfer is in 1.33:1 full frame. Personally, this did not really bother me, but you will have to decide for yourself. As per our site's policy I will remove 1 star from the overall video rating for not being in the correct aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout despite the light grain (heavy during outdoor superimposed sequences), with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was pretty good, however some scenes were designed to have impenetrable shadows. The outdoor pieces mentioned above were also softer than the other footage.

    The colour is very good and quite vibrant, surprisingly so for a film of this age, especially Grace Kelly's red dress. The skins tones were very good. This is the only colour film in the box set.

    Artefacts were present as you would expect with a film of this age, however they were quite minimal with the exception of some quite noticeable haloing around various people. This was particularly noticeable early in the film on Ray Milland. It is my understanding that this could be an artefact from the transfer from 3D to 2D. There was also some telecine wobble during the titles, some white specks here and there and one white line at 65:15. I also noticed one very minor MPEG artefact, being a jagged edge on a tie, but now I'm just being picky.

    There are subtitles in 6 languages including English and also English & Italian for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and very close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 52:06 and is very well hidden during the intermission.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is reasonable and in the original mono.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French & Italian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there were no  problems with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Dimitri Tiomkin is excellent, and definitely one of his best for Hitchcock. It is by turns romantic or suspenseful depending upon the onscreen action. Unfortunately, the transfer reveals significant distortion in the music, especially during louder passages such as the opening credits. This is disappointing.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles. The menu includes a nice scissor motif for cursor position and is well designed.

Hitchcock and Dial M (21:35)

    Similar in format to the documentaries on the first three discs but with very little in the way of interesting insights which is disappointing. Features interviews with a number of film historians, Patricia Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan. A lot of the running time is taken up with scenes from the film. Made in 2004. Reasonable but the least interesting of the four documentaries in the box set.

3D : A Brief History (7:07)

    Much more interesting than the main documentary, this featurette covers the history of 3D in Hollywood including some technical information about how 3D films were made and projected. Includes an interview snippet with the director of Jaws 3D. Well worth a look.

Theatrical Trailer (2:29)

    Not a bad trailer, but a product of its time. Shows what a good job has been done with the video transfer in terms of sharpness and artefacts.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this film is one of the 9 films in the equivalent box set in Region 1. On that disc is it in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, much closer to the original 1.37:1 than our release. Obviously the Region 1 release is in NTSC, however this is definitely outweighed by being in the correct ratio. Region 1 is the winner here as it contains the same extras. According to DVD Beaver, a 3D version is available on DVD, which would certainly be interesting to see. The Region 2 release is the same as ours.

Summary

    A Hitchcock classic, probably the pick of the box set.

    The video quality is very good but is not in the original aspect ratio.

    The audio quality is reasonable and in the original mono.

    The disc has a small selection of interesting extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Dial M for Murder (1954) | The Wrong Man (1956) | Stage Fright (1950) | I Confess (1953)

The Wrong Man (1956)

The Wrong Man (1956)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Guilt Trip: Hitchcock And The Wrong Man
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1956
Running Time 101:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Henry Fonda
Vera Miles
Anthony Quayle
Harold Stone
John Heldabrand
Doreen Lang
Norma Connolly
Lola D'Annunzio
Robert Essen
Dayton Lummis
Charles Cooper
Esther Minciotti
Laurinda Barrett
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is the youngest of the four films included in the newly released Warner Home Video collection of Alfred Hitchcock films made for Warners between 1950 and 1957. They are not available separately. The reviews of the first two films from this set are here (Stage Fright) and here (I Confess). The last one (Dial M for Murder) will be reviewed soon. As I divulge in those reviews, I am a lover of Hitchcock's work.

    The Wrong Man is a very serious film, and even more serious than I Confess. The tone is quite tense and emotional, focusing on the effects of mistaken identity on the life of an average man, Christopher Emanuel 'Manny' Balestrero (Henry Fonda). To my knowledge, this is the only Hitchcock film based entirely on a true story. Manny is a bass player in the band at a swanky club in New York and struggles to support his wife, Rose (Vera Miles), and two sons. He is seemingly a good and honest man, who is very reliable and loves his family very much. When his wife requires some dental work, he goes to the office of the insurance company with whom they hold life insurance policies. His plan is to see how much money they can borrow on the policy to pay for the dental work. When he arrives, the staff at the insurance company believe him to be a man who robbed them twice in the last few months. They, of course, call the police who proceed to arrest Manny. Due to other circumstantial evidence, the police charge him with the life insurance company robbery and various other robberies which have occurred in the area. He enlists the assistance of a lawyer, Frank O'Connor (Anthony Quayle), to represent him at the trial. The main focus of the movie is the psychological effects of the situation on Manny and his family.

    This film has many wonderful touches and elements, however, in my opinion suffers from not having an interesting enough story, which can be a problem with films based on true stories, especially years after they were topical. I am sure this film's storyline would have been more interesting when it was made in 1956 due to the topicality of the true story from 1953 and the fact that the storyline of a mistaken identity had not been made into a film as many times as it has now. Regardless, there is much here to enjoy for the Alfred Hitchcock fan, with many of his signature touches including his focus on people's eyes, his use of shadow, interesting camera angles and tricks such as viewing Manny's cell through the eye slit, or the circular motion of the camera while Manny is in his cell. Interestingly, this is one of the few Hitchcock films without a cameo unless you count his prologue, where he appears as a silhouette in a darkened studio and announces the true nature of the story to be portrayed. Henry Fonda is quite good as Manny, without really standing out, however Vera Miles is wonderful as his wife, portraying the various emotions which his wife goes through during his ordeal. I was interested to note that Hitchcock wanted her to play the lead in Vertigo but she got pregnant. Another interesting member of the cast in a small role is Werner Klemperer who would be known to Hogan's Heroes fans as Colonel Klink. Another wonderful element is the score by Bernard Herrman, his third for Hitchcock. It really adds to the tension of the movie.

    So, a well made film, based on a not overly interesting true story. Worthwhile for Hitchcock fans, of less interest for others.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good for a film of this age.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close enough to the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 to not make a huge difference, although the picture seems to have been horizontally cropped. This is the only film in the box set which was originally in widescreen.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout despite the grain (which was heavy at times), with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was pretty good, however some scenes were designed to have impenetrable blacks.

    The black and white contrast was quite good with blacks dark and solid and good distinction between the various shades of grey and white.

    Artefacts were present as you would expect with a film of this age, however they were not too bad. I noticed one spot of extremely minor aliasing on a striped dress at 97:50.There was some minor edge enhancement. On the film artefacts front, I noticed some minor specks and some lines and a larger mark at 60:40.

    There are subtitles in 6 languages including English and also English & Italian for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and reasonably close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 61:46 and is very well hidden.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French & Italian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there were no major problems with audio sync, although it did seem slightly out during the scene at the doctor's office at 78:00.

    The score of this film by Bernard Herrmann is excellent, significantly adding to the feel and tension of the film. The music comes across extremely well despite being only in mono.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Guilt Trip: Hitchcock and The Wrong Man (20:17)

    Similar in format to the documentaries on the first two discs but with less interesting information to convey. Features interviews with a number of film historians and the Art Director of The Wrong Man. He discusses some of the challenges which Hitchcock gave him, such as making sets to a different scale due to the way Hitchcock wanted to shoot them. Also covers location shooting issues and music and sound effects used. Made in 2004. Still worth watching.

Theatrical Trailer (2:27)

    Not a bad trailer, with a voiceover by Hitch himself.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is in the same format as that in Region 1 except for PAL/NTSC differences.

Summary

    Another well made film from Alfred Hitchcock featuring an excellent performance by Vera Miles, but a slightly sub-par story.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    The disc has a small selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, December 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Dial M for Murder (1954) | The Wrong Man (1956) | Stage Fright (1950) | I Confess (1953)

Stage Fright (1950)

Stage Fright (1950)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Hitchcock And Stage Fright
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1950
Running Time 105:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (36:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Jane Wyman
Marlene Dietrich
Michael Wilding
Richard Todd
Alastair Sim
Sybil Thorndike
Kay Walsh
Miles Malleson
Hector MacGregor
Joyce Grenfell
André Morell
Patricia Hitchcock
Ballard Berkeley
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music leighton lucas


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Let me start with a couple of statements so you can gauge my level of objectivity when it comes to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock is responsible for the greatest body of work produced by any one director. His level of consistency across his body of work is truly amazing (perhaps with the exception of a couple of films very late in his career and one or two of the early films). So, now that my level of objectivity is clear, let's move on...

    This film is the oldest of the four films included in the newly released Warner Home Video collection of Alfred Hitchcock films made for Warners between 1950 and 1957. They are not available separately.

    Stage Fright is a film which has generated much debate; amongst critics on its release, amongst film historians now and even in Hitchcock's own mind. The reason for this debate is a device which Hitchcock uses near the beginning of the film, the impact of which does not become clear until the end. Some critics believe this device is a stroke of genius and others believe it is an unfair trick played on the audience. I strongly believe that the first viewpoint is correct, as to my mind it makes this movie stand out as a great piece of cinema. I will not discuss the particular device in detail as this would spoil the film for those who have not seen it. Hitchcock said in later years that it was a mistake. You need to make up your own mind.

    The plot revolves around the murder of the husband of Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich), a self-serving and manipulative femme fatale, who is also a famous actress. She is the blonde ice-queen character which is a common motif in Hitchcock films. A young man, Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd), is madly in love with Charlotte and would happily do anything for her. He is also carrying on a relationship with a young unsuccessful actress, Eve Gill (Jane Wyman), who loves him. Once Eve realises that Jonathan has got himself mixed up in this murder, she decides to investigate herself in order to clear his name. She arranges to take over from Charlotte's dresser in order to get closer to whom she believes committed the murder. She also meets (and subsequently falls in love with) a detective working on the case, Wilfred Smith (Michael Wilding). She enlists the assistance of her eccentric father, Commodore Gill (English comedy great Alistair Sim) who gets involved in various schemes (many of them amusing) to help her rescue Jonathan even though he does not think much of him. It is also interesting to note that Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, appears in the film as Chubby Bannister, a friend of Eve.

    This is one of Hitchcock's lighter films, like The Trouble with Harry, and is full of excellent comedic touches and dialogue in addition to the core thriller story. Alistair Sim and Sybil Thorndyke as Eve's estranged parents are both wonderful, as is a short scene involving shooting ducks, which are targets in a side show. Even though this scene does not really advance the storyline, it is so amusing that you don't really care. The rest of the cast are uniformly excellent. The requisite appearance by Hitch occurs at 38:16 as Eve is walking down the street. Despite the lighter tone, there are some scenes which are quite intense, especially the final scene between Eve and Jonathan beneath the stage in the theatre. Hitchcock's use of lighting and close-ups in this scene is fantastic. There are many other examples of his various trademark techniques throughout the film, such as the introduction of Charlotte via a close-up of her legs and dress. Another interesting device used in the film is the opening of the credits being over a theatre safety curtain, which rises to reveal London, rather than a stage. Also, the role of the safety curtain in the climax adds to this device.

     This is a wonderful film, well worthy of a place in the top half of Hitchcock's canon of movies. I am extremely pleased to have been able to finally get the chance to see it and review this DVD release.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is disappointing, especially considering the quality of previous Hitchcock releases.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio, which was the Academy ratio of 1.37:1.

    The picture was generally clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. The sharpness is affected by some reasonably heavy grain. The shadow detail was not spectacular, but considering the age of the film, not too bad.

    The film is in black and white. Generally the contrast between black, white and the various shades of grey was very good. The blacks were certainly well saturated.

    Artefacts is where this transfer lets itself down. I would have hoped for some more restoration work to have occurred for a major film by a major director. There are some quite glaring film artefacts and also some MPEG artefacts, although these are not as obvious. On the film artefacts front, there are significant amounts of specks, flecks, splodges and lines. Some bad patches occurred at 31:40 (bad section), 54:28 (large spot), 21:56 (a flash of lines/hairs), 39:48, 53:05 (hair at bottom of screen), 76:15 (a bad line), 104:50 - end (a very bad thick vertical line down the middle of the screen). Additionally, there was a reel change marker at 60:30, some effects akin to comet trails from Marlene Dietrich's earrings at 59:30, a jump possibly caused by a missing frame at 86:00 and a section of film which looked like it had been stretched at some point at 103:29. On the MPEG artefacts front, there was some macro-blocking in backgrounds here and there, and some aliasing mostly affecting clothing such as the jacket at 31:00 and the jacket which Jane Wyman first puts on at 36:50 and then continues to wear for a lot of the rest of the film. If you need any more, there was also some edge enhancement, mostly minor.

    There are subtitles in 6 languages including English & English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read although somewhat smaller than most.

    The layer change occurs at 36:00 and is well placed and not particularly noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is fine but will give most of your speakers the night off.

    This DVD contains three audio options; an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French and Italian.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand , however, there was an occasional minor audio sync issue, probably due to ADR rather than the transfer itself.

    The score of this film by Leighton Lucas is fine but does not really stand out.

    All speakers except the centre are not used..

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu includes stills, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Hitchcock and Stage Fright (19:22)

    A fascinating, if somewhat short, recently made documentary about this film and its place in Hitchcock's body of work. The controversy I mentioned above is covered as are the differing viewpoints on it. Included are interviews with three different film historians, Jane Wyman and Patricia Hitchcock. There are some amusing anecdotes and fascinating insights into the film. It does contain some significant spoilers so watch the movie first.

Theatrical Trailer (2:44)

    This is a slightly strange trailer which starts with footage of Jane Wyman receiving a Playbill Magazine award and then follows up with a more traditional trailer which to my mind does not really do justice to the film. The voiceover is especially grating.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is in exactly the same format as Region 1 with the exception of PAL/NTSC differences. Region 4 gets the nod on that basis.

Summary

    A excellent film for anyone other that Hitchcock, and a very good one in his canon of work.

    The video quality is disappointing.

    The audio quality is fine and in the original mono.

    The disc has a short but fascinating featurette on the film and a trailer as its extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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Overall | Dial M for Murder (1954) | The Wrong Man (1956) | Stage Fright (1950) | I Confess (1953)

I Confess (1953)

I Confess (1953)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Hitchcock's Confession: A Look At I Confess
Featurette-Gala Canadian Premiere For "I Confess"
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 90:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Montgomery Clift
Anne Baxter
Karl Malden
Brian Aherne
Roger Dann
Dolly Haas
Charles Andre
O.E. Hasse
Judson Pratt
Ovila Légaré
Gilles Pelletier
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Dimitri Tiomkin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film is the second oldest of the four films included in the newly released Warner Home Video collection of Alfred Hitchcock films made for Warners between 1950 and 1957. They are not available separately. The review of the oldest film, Stage Fright, is here. As I divulge in that review, I am a lover of Hitchcock's work.

    I Confess is a more serious film than many Hitchcocks, despite a running joke about a bicycle. The story focuses on Father Michael Logan (Montgomery Clift), a junior priest at a church in Quebec, who also fought in the war before joining the priesthood. Late one night he is in the church when the handyman who works at the church comes rushing up to him wanting to confess. His name is Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse) and he confesses that he has killed local lawyer, Mr Villette. He is a German refugee who Logan has helped to get settled in Canada, and find work. His wife Alma (Dolly Haas) also works at the church. Of course, Logan is restricted by his vows as a Catholic priest from ever revealing what he has heard in confession. The next morning, Keller decides that he should turn up to Mr Villette's house (where he tends the garden once a week) as normal, and innocently find the body. The crime is investigated by hard-nosed detective, Mr Larrue (Karl Malden), who begins to believe that the crime has been committed by Father Logan. He believes this due to some circumstantial evidence, and Logan's reluctance to discuss where he was at the time of the killing and his relationship with a woman who Larrue sees him with. The woman is Mrs Ruth Grandfort (Anne Baxter) whose husband, Pierre, is a member of parliament and good friends with the crown prosecutor, Robertson (Brian Ahearne). To describe the plot any further would spoil the various twists and turns for those who have not seen it.

    This is another high quality film from the mind of Alfred Hitchcock, and includes many of his signature techniques. This film is very impressive visually with excellent usage of dark, light and shadows to portray menace or mystery, such as the shot of the man in the cassock running down the darkened street or the whole meeting of Logan and Keller in the church. The opening is also interesting with the use of direction signs to point to the body of Villette. Also, as usual for Hitchcock, characters' eyes are very important either in close-up or just in the way they react to other people. In the included documentary one of the film historians refers to Hitchcock showing you people thinking rather than doing something which is a very good description. The Hitchcock appearance comes early in this film at 1:30. The interview scenes are quite tense and the interaction between Clift and Malden is great to watch. The acting is excellent throughout. It is interesting that Keller's wife has been given the same name as Hitchcock's own wife Alma Reville. Plot wise this film is not about working out who did the killing but rather whether the priest will break his vows to clear his name or break a confidence.

    So, another high quality tense thriller from Alfred Hitchcock, this time based upon a play by Paul Anthelme.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good for a film of this age, significantly better than Stage Fright.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is very close to the original Academy ratio of 1.37:1.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout despite the grain, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was good, however some scenes were designed to have impenetrable blacks with only faces lit, such as the church confession scene.

    The black and white contrast was good with blacks dark and solid and good distinction between the various shades of grey and white.

    Artefacts were present as you would expect with a film of this age, however they were nowhere near as bad as Stage Fright. I noticed some minor aliasing on stairs at 1:30, a heater at 41:13 and grilles at 88:39. There was also some minor edge enhancement. On the film artefacts front, I noticed some minor specks and some lines, for example at 2:34. There were also some flashes of film artefact at 34:54, 64:24 & 83:00. Generally, not too bad.

    There are subtitles in 6 languages including English & English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and very close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 57:08 and is very well hidden.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French & Italian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, although the subtitles occasionally came in handy, especially with some of the accents.

    The score of this film by Dimitri Tiomkin is excellent significantly adding to the feel and tension of the film.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Hitchcock's Confession : A Look At I Confess (20:41)

    An interesting featurette on the film including a number of film historians' viewpoints. There is discussion about the various devices used by Hitchcock during the film such as the lighting and various plot elements which the censors forced him to remove from the script including Logan dying and an illegitimate child. Also includes interviews with a close friend of Montgomery Clift and Patricia Hitchcock. There is also discussion of the less than glowing reviews for the film on initial release. Made in 2004.

Gala Canadian Premiere for I Confess (0:57)

    Short newsreel footage of the premiere.

Theatrical Trailer (2:41)

    Not a bad trailer, very much of its time, with writing over the screen and a voiceover.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is in the same format as that in Region 1 except for PAL/NTSC differences.

Summary

    Another high quality film from the mind of Alfred Hitchcock featuring an excellent performance by Montgomery Clift as a priest struggling with his conscience.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good and in the original mono.

    The disc has a small selection of interesting extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
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