Alfred Hitchcock Presents-Season Five (1959)

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Released 18-May-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Main Menu Audio-Music : Gounod's March of the Marionette
Booklet-12 page : Ep.synopsis, cast. Photographs.
Gallery-Photo-68 black and white production images
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 943:00 (Case: 922)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (25:00)
Multi Disc Set (5)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Paul Henreid
Herschel Daugherty
Norman Lloyd
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring William Shatner
Anne Francis
Steve McQueen
Laurence Harvey
MacDonald Carey
Brian Keith
Walter Matthau
Robert Vaughn
Dick Van Dyke
Stella Stevens
Robert Morley
Richard Chamberlain
Robert Horton
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $49.95 Music Charles Gounod


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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Hitchcock intro before invividual ep. titles.

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

Plot Synopsis

†††† Madman continues to release their excellent Alfred Hitchcock Presents seasons. Added recently is the complete Season Five of that magnificent half-hour series which originally ran in the US from October 1955 through to June 1962, seven seasons with an astonishing two hundred and seventy-three half-hour dramas being produced. Madman have already given us the first four seasons licensed from Universal, and this five-disc set sustains, and actually improves upon, the exceptional quality of those earlier releases. The five disc set contains all thirty-eight episodes of approximately twenty-five minutes each, complete with the introductions by Hitchcock himself, as originally telecast in the US from September 1959 to June 1960, with the final episode held over until September 25th, shown two weeks prior to the premiere of Season Six in a new time slot.

†††† This collection of thirty-six twenty-five minutes episodes proves why this series has long been considered the pinnacle of the TV anthology genre. Each episode is crafted with precision and wit, not wasting one second of its allotted screen time. Scripts, performance, photography and direction were the best the fifties could offer, and it all has stood the test of time. This is tremendous entertainment that can be sampled and thoroughly enjoyed at random. Put any of the five discs in your player, pick any episode and sit back and be superbly entertained - and stimulated at the same time. As we would expect, each plot revolves around a murder and the entire gamut of homicidal situations is covered. There are murderous wives, husbands, mothers, children - you name it, the series has it, though mothers do feature very prominently, either as the perp or the victim. The wicked old Alfred actually calls one episode, twenty-four, an "ode to mother love".

†††† Once again we have the inimitable book-end hostings of Alfred Hitchcock himself, announced by the strains of Gounodís March of the Marionettes.. These brilliantly written and executed pieces are alone worth the price of the DVD set. Hitchcock appears in many guises and settings. We see him with chickens, mountain climbing, bartending, perched on a cardboard moon, as a boxing announcer, tending a giant man-eating plant, leg in plaster in a wheelchair, camping, attacked by a giant ant, about to be shot out of a cannon, as a stonemason, a car salesman, inventing the wheel, a shrunken Alfred in a "mail in" basket, in scuba gear, as a gaol bird and a garbage man. This is surely the host with the most.

†††† The titles and cast for the thirty-nine episodes offered in Season Five are :

Disc One
1. Arthur : Laurence Harvey, Hazel Court, Patrick Macnee, Robert Douglas
2. The Crystal Trench : James Donald, Patricia Owens, Patrick Macnee, Werner Klemperer
3. Appointment at Eleven : Clint Kimbrough, Clu Gulager, Norma Crane, Michael J. Pollard
4. Coyote Moon : Macdonald Carey, Collin Wilcox, Edgar Buchanan
5. No Pain : Brian Keith, Joanna Moore
6. Anniversary Gift : Harry Morgan, Barbara Baxley, Jackie Coogan
7
. Dry Run : Walter Matthau, Robert Vaughn
8. The Blessington Method : Henry Jones, Dick York, Elizabeth Patterson, Penny Edwards

Disc Two
9. Dead Weight : Joseph Cotton, Julie Adams, Ted de Corsia, Don Gordon
10.Special Delivery : Steve Dunne, Peter Lazer, Beatrice Straight
11. Road Hog : Richard Chamberlain, Raymond Massey, Roscoe Ates
12. Specialty of the House : Robert Morley, Kenneth Haigh
13. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge : James Coburn, Ronald Howard, Juano Hernandez, Kenneth Tobey
14. Graduating Class : Gigi Perreau, Wendy Hiller, Jocelyn Brando, Madge Kennedy
15. Man from the South : Peter Lorre, Steve McQueen, Neile Adams
16. The Iron of Elijah : Oscar Homolka, Sam Jaffe, William Greene

Disc Three
17. The Cure : Nehemiah Persoff, Cara Williams, Peter Mark Richman
18. Backward, Turn Backward : Tom Tully, Alan Baxter, Paul Maxwell
19. Not the Running Type : Paul Hartman, Wendell Holmes, Robert Bray
20. The Day of the Bullet : Barry Gordon, Dennis Patrick, Glenn Walken, Biff Elliot, Norman Lloyd
21. Hitch Hike : John McIntire, Robert Morse, Suzanne Pleshette
22. Across the Threshold : Patricia Collinge, George Grizzard, Barbara Baxley
23. Craig's Will : Dick Van Dyke, Stella Stevens, Paul Stewart
24. Madame Mystery : Audrey Totter, Harp McGuire

Disc Four
25. The Little Man Who Was There : Norman Lloyd, Robert Armstrong
26. Mother, May I Go Out to Swim? : William Shatner, Jessie Royce Landis, Robert Carson, Gia Scala
27. The Cuckoo Clock : Beatrice Straight, Fay Spain, Pat Hitchcock, Don Beddoe
28. Forty Detectives Later : James Franciscus, Jack Weston
29. The Hero : Eric Portman, Oscar Homolka, Richard Lupino
30. Insomnia : Dennis Weaver, Al Hodge, John Ragin
31. I Can Take Care of Myself : Myron McKormick, Linda Lawson, Frankie Darro
32. One Grave Too Many : Neile Adams, Biff Elliott, Jeremy Slate

Disc Five
33. Party Line : Judy Canova, Arch Johnson, Gertrude Flynn, Ellen Corby, Ted Knight
34. Cell 227 : Brian Keith, Frank Maxwell, Robert Carson, James Best
35. The Schwarz-Metterklume Method : Hermione Gingold, Doris Lloyd, Pat Hitchcock, Angela Cartwright, Tom Conway, Norma Varden
36. Letter of Credit : Robert Bray, Theodore Newton, Bob Sweeney
37. Escape to Sonoita : Burt Reynolds, Murray Hamilton, James Bell, Harry Dean Stanton, Venetia Stevenson
38. Hooked : Anne Francis, John Holland, Robert Horton, Vivienne Segal

†††† Every episode is produced by Joan Harrison Hitchcock's longtime production assistant, and the customary care and professionalism is evident in all episodes. The only lapse is in the opening episode which is set on a New Zealand chicken farm. The studio stage set of the farm exterior is very artificial, and Laurence Harvey's wardrobe is totally inappropriate. Apart from this one lapse the production of each episode is nigh flawless. The two opening episodes are directed by Hitchcock himself, and the remaining three dozen are shared by thirteen other directors. This impressive list includes Hitchcock stalwart Norman Lloyd for six episodes, Herschel Daugherty and John Brahm five each, Stuart Rosenberg and Arthur Hiller four each, Paul Henreid and Robert Stevens three apiece, and single episodes for Paul Almond, Gene Reynolds, Alan Crosland Jr, Hilton Green, Richard Dunlap and George Stevens Jr. A number of the stories originated in either Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine or The Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Other names you will recognize which appear in the writing credits are Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night), Michael Pertwee (Make Mine Mink) and Robert Bloch (Psycho).

†††† It is difficult to find something new to say about this truly remarkable series. After four successful seasons, this true classic continues doing what it does superbly. Most happily, this Madman release, ahead of the United States release, contains transfers that are even better than the already very pleasing earlier sets. The last black and white film I watched was Some Like It Hot in its new Blu-ray release. These episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents look every bit as good. The host's introductions are still not as good as the episodes themselves, but their image quality is also an improvement on the earlier seasons.

†††† Regarding Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season Five, I can only repeat what I have said about the previous seasons. It's simply the best.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Even without considering the age of this series, the image quality is astonishing. Improving upon the already excellent quality of the earlier seasons, this set is truly outstanding.

†††† The image is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 without enhancement. The quality of the Hitchcock monologues is a substantial improvement on the earlier seasons, although there is still minimal damage, with minor speckles and the occasional scratch. Once we begin each actual episode the image quality is amazing. Brilliantly sharp, this is a beautiful black and white presentation. There is strong contrast, with solid blacks and stable whites. The grey scale is excellent. Detail is also outstanding, with the fabric of the clothing at times eye popping, and shadow detail clearly defined. There is fine, soft grain, giving a totally film-like appearance to the material. The frequent close-ups are often jaw-dropping.

†††† I was not aware of any compression problems. These appear to be beautiful undoctored transfers of exceptional source material. Film artefacts were extremely minor, with the occasional fleck all that was noticed. There was a short burst of intermittent "flaring" on Episode 23 with Dick Van Dyke which may have been due to some negative damage. Apart from that we have almost sixteen hours of image excellence.

†††† There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

†††† There is a single audio stream on the discs, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 224Kbps.

†††† The mono sound on these discs is generally excellent. The Hitchcock introductions do have some hiss and the occasional crackle, but once each of the "plays" commences there is a marked improvement.

†††† Overall the audio is sharp, crisp and clear with dramatic presence and depth. Dialogue is crystal clear and there are no sync problems. In each dramatic episode there was no background hiss noticed, and crackles and pops were minimal.

†††† Although mono, the music is always presented sharply and clearly.

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

Extras

††††

Menu

†††† The main menu is virtually identical to those on the first four sets in the series.
It is presented 1.33:1 in a 4x3 transfer, accompanied by the famous Gounod theme. Once again Hitchcock is seen holding a widescreen ratio "card" on which is playing a montage of the eight, or six in the case of the final disc, episodes on that disc.

Gallery

†††† On disc five, this is a collection of sixty-eight black and white production stills, mainly from Episode 37, featuring a very young Burt Reynolds.

Booklet

†††† This booklet is in the same format as those included with the earlier seasons. It contains twelve high quality pages which give a brief summary of each of the thirty-eight episodes, with comments on personnel of interest. Sad to say that, once again, other career credits are restricted to TV appearances. For instance, the beautiful and talented Anne Francis (Episode 38, Hooked) is credited only with TV's Honey West. This ignores her substantial big screen career, which included starring roles in Forbidden Planet and Blackboard Jungle amongst many others. With a few notable omissions, the principal players are listed - I have remedied this in the information in the body of the above review - as well as the original U.S. broadcast dates. Incorporated into the text are some excellent photographs, some framed blow-ups and other publicity shots. Most are thumbnail size, but there is an excellent full-page shot of Steve McQueen from Episode 15, Man from the South. As before, we have the Hitchcock cover and back cover reproduction of the famous profile sketch.

†††† The booklet and Amray case are housed in a matching slip-case.

R4 vs R1

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

††† As yet Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season Five is not released overseas.

Summary

††††Season Five of what is arguably the best anthology series ever made for TV has never looked better. The thirty-eight episodes are in beautiful crystal clear black and white and the mono sound is sharp and clean. Madman's five volumes of this classic series deserve pride-of-place in any DVD library. This is a fabulous treasury of stories and talent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Saturday, June 25, 2011
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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