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Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window
on Blu-Ray DVD HD
Rear Window might just be a perfect film. If not a perfect film, then perfect Hitchcock. It's impossible to draw a line between the mystery and the suspense, the story and the setting, or the performances and John Michael Hayes' dialogue. A melting pot of paranoia, isolation and the very real threat of murder most foul, it teases and toys, accelerates and tiptoes, delights and surprises, shocks and scares. It's Hitchcock at his peak. Hitchcock at his most playful. Hitchcock at his best.
Colors are typically satisfying and supported well, black levels are rich and inky , grain behaves as it should and clarity is excellent. Detail is the real draw to Rear Window's resurrection, with clean edges, surprisingly revealing textures and exterior shots that showcase every brick, flower, ladder rung, window sill and distant passerby. The restoration itself is impressive overall.
Universal's two-channel DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix is fantastic, from the faint sounds of a fidgeting voyeur cloaked in darkness to the exterior comings and goings of Jeffries' neighbors to the hustle-n-bustle chorus of street noise in the distance. It's so involving that I longed to hear a carefully crafted 5.1 remix (so long as a presentation of the original mono audio was available too, of course). But no matter. Dialogue is crystal clear and lovingly grounded in the city, effects are clean and precise, and Franz Waxman's music and, more importantly, Hitchcock's score-like soundscape has been given full run of the place to engaging ends. None of it defies the tone and tenor of the film's mid-50s sound design either, making the resulting lossless audio as faithful as it is memorable. Purists will be most pleased, as will anyone and everyone who has affection for Rear Window.
Audio Commentary: Author John Farwell ("Hitchcock's Rear Window: The Well-Made Film") provides a somewhat dry but undeniably detailed analysis of Rear Window, without so much as missing a shot or scene.
Rear Window Ethics: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic (SD, 55 minutes): From short story to screenplay to Hitchcock masterpiece, track the development, casting, production, performances, style and, eventually, the restoration of Rear Window.
Masters of Cinema (SD, 34 minutes): A lengthy "Masters of Cinema" interview with Hitchcock that, despite its age, is one of the must-see extras in the 15-disc Masterpiece Collection set.
A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes (SD, 13 minutes): Hayes covers a lot of ground, touching on his first meeting with Hitchcock, his first days on the job, his take on the director, his impressions of Stewart and Kelly, and more.
Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master (SD, 25 minutes): An in-depth, career-spanning look at Hitchcock's filmmaking prowess, desires as a director, contributions to cinema, and influence on generations of filmmakers that followed. "Pure Cinema" doesn't focus on Rear Window, but it's no less welcome.
Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock (SD, 24 minutes): Hitchcock had a penchant for unforgettable visuals, but his meticulous mastery of sound was just as crucial to the impact, suspense, dread and mood of his films.
Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview Excerpts (SD, 16 minutes): Excerpts from filmmaker Francois Truffaut's 1962 interview sessions with Hitchcock (for his book, the aptly titled "Hitchcock") are set to a montage of clips and stills from the film.
Production Photographs (SD, 3 minutes): Movie posters, vintage ads and production photos.
Theatrical and Re-Release Trailers (HD, 9 minutes)
Rear Window is a timeless piece of cinema that belongs in every filmfan's collection. Universal's Blu-ray edition features a solid restoration and video transfer, an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix, and a generous selection of extras, among them an audio commentary, three documentaries and fifty-minutes of interviews with the director himself. It's perfect Hitchcock. Perhaps even the master filmmaker's best.
Actors: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter
Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: John Michael Hayes
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Format: NTSC, Subtitled
Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono), French (DTS-HD 2.0), Spanish (DTS-HD 2.0)
Subtitles: French, Spanish
Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
Region: Region A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Number of discs: 1
Parental Guidance Suggested
Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: May 6, 2014
Run Time: 115 minutes