Alfred Hitchcock Collectors’ Guide: Miscellaneous Releases

  • Numerous unusual worldwide releases don’t fit neatly into any standard Hitch videographies
  • However, many are essential collector’s items; some of the most significant ones are highlighted here
  • This simple guide makes it easy to find the best quality Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases
  • Part of an in-depth series giving a totally unique insight into the Master’s British years – and beyond

Note: this is one of 50-odd Hitchcock articles coming over the next few months. Any dead links are to those not yet published. Subscribe to the email list to be notified when new ones appear.

Films of Alfred Hitchcock collage by Adan Chance, 2010

Films of Alfred Hitchcock collage by Adan Chance, 2010


Contents


VHS and DVD film magazines

Rich and Strange aka À l'est de Shanghaï (1931) Alfred Hitchcock, la collection au suspense insoutenable (unbearable) VHS magazine

Rich and Strange aka À l’est de Shanghaï (1931) Alfred Hitchcock, la collection au suspense insoutenable (unbearable) VHS magazine

In 1994 and again in 1998, French publishers Atlas issued a lengthy series of weekly magazines, AH: La Collection Atlas, with each one dedicated to every entry in Hitch’s available filmography. It even included the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series and every issue was accompanied by a licensed VHS cassette of the title in question.

The Man Who Knew Too Much aka L'Homme qui en savait trop (1934, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) French Carlton-Journaux.fr magazine DVD

The Man Who Knew Too Much French Carlton-Journaux.fr magazine DVD

French publishers Journaux.fr repackaged and reissued the Atlas series on DVD in 2002 as La Collection AH en DVD, and did so again a final time from 2005 onwards, this time titled La Collection Alfred Hitchcock en DVD: 2nd Edition. They’re very well done and though rarely found for sale outside of France, are well worth collectingsi vous parlez français. Careful though: there are several runs of bootleg DVDs from different countries with very similar sleeve designs and typography. If picking them up, be sure to check the rear for the correct copyright notices and rights holders logos, such as Carlton International or Studiocanal. All but The Pleasure Garden/Mary (issue #47) have since been issued on regular French DVD.

Waltzes from Vienna aka Le Chant du Danube, starring Jessie Matthews (1934, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) French Universal-Le Figaro magazine DVD

Waltzes from Vienna/Downhill French Le Figaro DVD

French magazine Le Figaro produced yet another run of 20 Hitchcock-themed magazines in 2007 – the French really like their Hitchcock! Again each issue was accompanied by a specially packaged DVD. The spines were all numbered and collectively spelled out his name, while the discs were the regular commercial versions, complete with extras. This time, with the exception of their repackaged disc of Waltzes from Vienna/Downhill (issue #7) , they were all post-1930s films.

Italy-based publishers De Agostini produced their own 48-part series of Hitch’s films on VHS from 1993–1995, titled Il cinema di Alfred Hitchcock. Each was accompanied by a roughly A5-sized booklet but all the pre-1940 British films were boots, and with dubbed Italian audio only. The series was reissued on DVD in 2001 and 2005 with the same transfers, but this time senza booklets. In Mexico, De Agostini also distributed a 2006 set of 20 Spanish-language Hitch DVD-magazines of post-1940 films.

On a related note, Spain has had at least three very attractive Digibook-packaged runs of Hitch’s American films, including a 2007 “Gold Edition” series. But Spanish bootleggers Suevia swiftly followed suit with an identikit series of his British films, ripping off the previous editions’ name, artwork and packaging, but in much poorer quality.


Newspaper DVDs

The Times newspaper Hitchcock promo DVDs

The Times Hitchcock promo DVDs

For a few years just prior to 2010, several UK newspapers – The Times, Guardian and Telegraph – issued DVD freebies of various Hitch films of the 1930s and 1940s. However, only the former used restored, licensed transfers. Yup: The Guardian, and Telegraph , those crusading pillars of the establishment, actually gave away bootlegs, contributing to an ever-growing pile. Though it was more likely through ignorance than malice. Theirs had the usual terrible transfers, whereas The Times licensed discs look great and actually improve on some of the regular releases, in that they all have English subtitles. With the few exceptions noted below, all came in basic square card wallet sleeves. They’re cheap and plentiful on UK eBay but tread carefully: ensure you only get those with The Times logo displayed prominently.

The Times official DVDs

All the above Hitch titles and more have also been issued with newspapers in various other European countries, most notably Greece. They turn up regularly on eBay but predictably they’re all bootlegs.


Universal DVD box sets

22-DVD/25-film Alfred Hitchcock Collection (Universal France, 2015).

22-DVD/25-film Alfred Hitchcock Collection (Universal France, 2015)

These days, Hitch is easily the most enduringly popular classic filmmaker and his works are available in a multitude of official DVD collections everywhere. But in France and Benelux, Universal have issued several humongous box sets much more comprehensive in scope than most. They’re particularly notable for including many of his British films alongside the later American ones, whereas most such sets just have the latter. If you’re planning to build a complete Hitchcock DVD collection from scratch, they’re easily the best place to start: you can pick up half his entire output in one fell swoop. As with most Hitch discs issued in Europe, all sets are English-friendly and have copious extras. They’re also region 2, PAL format, and feature a host of sub and dub options.

In the French sets, Hitch’s British years are represented by three 2on1 DVDs:

Two or three are included in each set and the remainder consist of his American films.

The Benelux set has a different selection of eight British films on four 2on1 DVDs: Champagne/The Ring, The Manxman/The Farmer’s Wife, Blackmail/Murder and Skin Game/Rich and Strange. Though they’re not available individually, the four discs were initially issued with a fifth film, Foreign Correspondent (1940), in the AH Collection (2007).

Amazon De

Alfred Hitchcock caricature by Sete González

Alfred Hitchcock caricature by Sete González


Those not yet linked are coming very soon. Subscribe to the email list to be notified.

For more detailed specifications of official releases mentioned, check out the ever-useful DVDCompare. This guide is regularly updated, so please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.

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