Warner continues to stun with its restoration of classics for display through HiDef Blu-ray.
The latest is the 50th anniversary edition of “North by Northwest” ($34.99) on Nov. 3.
Though “Psycho” and “The Birds” get the most popular attention of Hitchcock’s movies, “North by Northwest” and “Rear Window” are far more accomplished films and stand in total contrast with each other — “Rear Window” generating fear from its claustrophic environment and the physical limitation of wheelchair-bound James Stewart; “North by Northwest” creating thrilling tension in wide-open spaces from the cornfield highway intersection of the title to the carved rocks of Mount Rushmore.
Highlights of this edition:
* Incrediblly pristine HiDef image and Bernard Herrmann score (the 2000 DVD was very good, but this is even better). In this new restoration from the original VistaVision elements remastered in full 1080p HD widescreen, you can see every thread in the stylish suits of the dapper Cary Grant, and the overall colors is richer and more pronounced.
* Two fun new documentaries by Gary Leva featuring modern-day filmmakers such as Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, Curtis Hanson, and other cinema craftsmen offering their perspective of the movie and Hitchock’s brilliance and influence, peppered with remarkable behind-the-scenes footage: the one-hour “The Master’s Touch: Hitchock’s Signature Style,” and the half-hour “North by Northwest: One for the Ages.”
* The terrific and revealing feature-length 2004 Turner Classic Movies documentary “Cary Grant: A Class Apart,” by Robert Trachtenberg.
* The best bonus features of the 2000 DVD release, including screenwriter Ernest Lehman’s amusing and informative audio commentary filled with fascinating and sometimes self-serving anecdotes about how much credit he deserves over Hitchcock, except for the final image of the train penetrating the tunnel, which he admits he cannot take credit for — “Dammit,” he says jokingly.
He also complains about the plane shooting bullets at Cary Grant since the premise was to have his death look like an accident, and about Hitchcock not making it convincing that the plane could not have avoide flying into the fuel truck.
The other good carryover is the terrific 40-minute retrospective hosted by Eve Marie Saint, “Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest.”
* A 44-page color built-in booklet about the movie, stars, and Hitchcock.