Funny, I thought the last DVD release of this Alfred Hitchcock gem was definitive, with an excellent hour-long documentary hosted by its leading lady, Eva Marie Saint, and a commentary track by its articulate screenwriter, Ernest Lehman. How lucky for us that Warner Home Video decided that the movie’s 50th anniversary warranted the investment of returning…
to the VistaVision Technicolor master elements (which hadn’t been touched for years) to create a new high-definition copy. Until you see it with your own eyes you might not believe the difference, but this transfer is incredibly sharp and rich, with colors that pop off the screen.
As for bonus features, producer-director Gary Leva has created two new documentaries in which five contemporary filmmakers discuss North by Northwest: screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and directors Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), William Friedkin The French Connection, The Exorcist, Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, In Her Shoes) and Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth). Knowing how passionate and eloquent they are about the filmmaking process, I expected to enjoy the remarks of Hanson, Del Toro, and Friedkin, and I did; they are world-class cinéastes who really know their stuff. I was pleasantly surprised by McQuarrie and Lawrence, whose work I must admit I don’t admire quite as much; they have grown in my estimation because they contribute such cogent and original thoughts about Hitchcock and his mastery of storytelling. It’s a pleasure to listen to all five men expound about the director and North by Northwest in particular, and the two pieces don’t really overlap.
I’m not crazy about the prospect of continually replacing DVDs I already own, but Warner has made it worth our while for this terrific film.
(Warner Home Video)