Alfred Hitchcock Presents-Season Two (1956)

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Released 17-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Booklet-8 pages with 14 pics, detailing each episode.
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1956
Running Time 1014:56 (Case: 1017)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (25:00)
Multi Disc Set (5)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Stevens
Paul Henreid
Herschel Daugherty
Norman Lloyd
Studio
Distributor
MCA TV / Universal
Madman Entertainment
Starring Hune Cronyn
Jessica Tandy
Barbara Cook
Vic Morrow
John Williams
David Wayne
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Mildred Dunnock
Claude Rains
Ellen Corby
Inger Stevens
Steve Forrest
Robert Culp
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $49.95 Music Guonod


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, In context of 1950s drama
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    Happy News! Madman have recently made available Alfred Hitchcock Presents : Season Two. Here, as with the excellent Season One released a few months ago, we have all thirty-nine of the half-hour episodes of the second season, spread over five discs. Licensed from Universal, this set matches the previous release both in content and presentation. Here is the supreme example of the golden age of television anthology,  presented by a host without peer in the history of television, the enigmatic and complex genius of popular cinema, Alfred Hitchcock himself.

    Alfred Hitchcock is a true genius of the cinema. His career began in England in the 1920s and saw him move from British silents into talkies, then came Hollywood and critical acclaim right through the thirties and forties. The early fifties saw growing commercial success with mass appeal, colourful entertainments which included Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and The Trouble with Harry. In July of 1955 he completed filming the fourth of these sunnier films, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and August saw the release of To Catch a Thief. Despite popular acclaim, The Hollywood Reporter's criticism of the Cary Grant and Grace Kelly starrer sent Hitchcock to bed for three days, prostrate with grief and anxiety. His next film, The Wrong Man, was to be a return to the darker themes of Hitchcock's earlier work. One evening while watching a TV drama the director became intrigued by the young, blonde star, Vera Miles. He saw in the lovely actress a replacement for Grace Kelly as his new blonde heroine. At the same time agent Lew Wasserman was urging Hitchcock to expand into television with a suspense anthology series. The CBS network came up with an offer that persuaded Hitchcock to take the plunge. For supervising the project, and directing only when he wished, Hitchcock was to be paid an astonishing $129,000 per episode, with all rights of sale and rebroadcast reverting to the director after the first airing. Vera Miles was signed to a seven year contract, and grooming began for her big screen debut opposite Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man. The second season of the series did not include Miss Miles, but the acting line-up has names of outstanding stars of stage and screen, although sadly today many may not be familiar. Possibly the biggest surprise is the appearance of Barbara Cook in the penultimate episode. Miss Cook was the original star of The Music Man on Broadway, and is today still enthralling audiences with her clear bell-like soprano. This is a rare, if not unique, screen appearance by the legendary star.

    The full list of episode titles and their stars includes :   

Disc 1 :
Wet Saturday : Directed by Hitch himself, and starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke and John Williams
Fog Closing In :
George Grizzard and Phyllis Thaxter
De Mortus : Henry Jones, Cara Williams and Robert Emhart
Kill with Kindness : Hume Cronyn and Carmen Mathews
None Are So Blind : Hurd Hatfield, Mildred Dunnock and K.T. Stevens
Toby : Jessica Tandy and Ellen Corby
Alibi Me : Lee Philips
Conversation Over a Corpse : Ray Collins, Dorothy Stickney and Carmen Mathews

Disc 2 :
Crack of Doom : Robert Horton and Robert Middleton
Jonathan : Georgann Johnson and Corey Allen
The Better Bargain : Henry Silva and Robert Middleton
The Rose Garden : John Williams, Patricia Collenge and Evelyn Varden
Mr Blanchard's Secret : Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with Robert Horton, Meg Mundy and Mary Scott
John Browne's Body : Leora Dana, Russell Collins and Hugh Marlowe
Crackpot : Biff McGuire, Robert Emhardt and Mary Scott
Nightmare in 4-D : Barbara Baxley, Henry Jones and Norman Lloyd

Disc 3 :
My Brother Richard : Royal Dano, Inger Stevens and Harry Townes
The Manacled : Gary Merrill and William Redfield
A Bottle of Wine : Herbert Marshall, Robert Horton and Jarma Lewis
Malice Domestic : Ralph Meeker and Phyllis Thaxter
Number Twenty-Two : Russell Collins and Rip Torn
The End of Indian Summer : Steve Forrest and Gladys Cooper
One for the Road : John Baragrey, Georgann Johnson and Louise Platt
The Cream of the Jest : Claude Rains and James Gregory

Disc 4 :
I Killed the Count : Part 1 : John Williams
I Killed the Count : Part 2 : John Williams and Rosemary Harris
I Killed the Count : Part 3 : John Williams and Rosemary Harris
One More Mile to Go : David Wayne
Vicious Circle : Dick York and Kathleen Maguire
The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater : John Williams and Barbara Baxley
The Night the World Ended : Russell Collins
The Hand of Mr. Ottermole : Theodore Bikel, Rhys Williams and Torin Thatcher

Disc 5 :
A Man Greatly Beloved : Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Evelyn Rudie and Hugh Marlowe
Martha Mason, Movie Star : Judith Evelyn and Robert Emhardt
The West Warlock Time Capsule : Henry Jones and Mildred Dunnock
Father and Son : Edmund Gwenn
The Indestructible Mr. Weems : Robert Middleton, Joe Mantell and Russell Collins
A Little Sleep : Barbara Cook and Vic Morrow
The Dangerous People : Albert Salmi and Robert H. Harris


    This is an outstanding TV series, the likes of which we will probably never see again. Originally telecast in the United States between September 1956 and June 1957, Season two won three Emmy Awards and the Golden Globe, and it is a joy to have this award winning material available in such fine quality. We can only hope that Madman will continue to make further releases in the series available to local fans.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The image quality is slightly improved on Season One, with the total impression extremely pleasing. There is considerably less variation, with a basically extremely satisfying transfer of the source material.

    There is an improvement also in the quality of the Hitchcock monologues. The source material is considerably cleaner and the image generally clean and sharp. These are possible the highlights of the collection, so it is extremely pleasing to have these brief gems looking and sounding so good.
    There is generally strong contrast, with solid blacks and stable whites.
    Detail is exceptionally good, with shadow detail a very rare problem as dark scenes were generally avoided in early television shows.
    There is fine, soft grain, which gives a nice period film appearance to the image.
    There is a very pleasing lack of compression problems.
    There is the occasional film to video artefact, such as the occasional scratch and minor flecking, but nothing is distracting.
    Generally the image is exceptionally good.

    There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

    Each disc has a single audio stream, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 224 Kbps.
    There is no aspect of the soundtrack that is going to lesson enjoyment of any of the thirty-nine episodes.
    The original mono sound is sharp and clear, with surprising presence and depth. Every syllable of dialogue is crystal clear, without any sync problems.
    There is generally a small amount of hiss, and the occasional crackle or pop. But this is all very slight.
    Music is delivered quite satisfactorily.
                                                          

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

Extras

       There are no extras on the discs themselves, but the insert booklet is very worthwhile.
    

Main Menu

    The main menu is very simple, utilising a still of Hitchcock, holding a wide format screen, on which appears a montage of scenes from the episodes on that particular disc. The Guonod theme is heard throughout.

    The options presented are : Play All
                                              Story
Selection: Selecting this activates the music to stop and  a zoom into the Hitchcock-held screen, on which the episodes on that disc are listed.
Special Features

Insert Booklet : Alfred Hitchcock Presents : Season Two Guide
For the second season the booklet has been reduced from sixteen to eight pages. There is no essay this time around, just the comprehensive Episode Guide, which gives a short plot outline for each episode, with stars, trivia notes and original broadcast dates. These pages also include fourteen stills from the episodes of this second series, and the total provides an informative and interesting addition to the total package.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 release misses out on English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired.

Summary

    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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