The Best of Alfred Hitchcock on the Criterion Collection

With a new greatest movie of all time to celebrate, Alfred Hitchcock gets a new lease on life. Sight & Sound, a critic’s poll going on five decades now, voted “Vertigo” by Hitchcock as the best movie of all time, overcoming “Citizen Kane,” the winner since the polls began.

With Hitchcock reigning supreme for the first time, here is a look at movies by the master of suspense you can find in the Criterion Collection library.

Notorious

Notorious (1946): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038787/
Notorious (1946)

Released in 1946, “Notorious” stars Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Grant plays Devlin, an American agent who hires Bergman’s character to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring. She marries one of the key players (Claude Rains) and finds her life in danger. The movie is full of spies and espionage, which Hitchcock loved so much. It remains one of the best early American efforts in his catalog.

The Criterion Collection only offers movies on DVD. Extra features include commentaries by Hitchcock film scholar Marian Keane and film historian Rudy Behlmer, the complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, rare production, publicity, and rear projection photos, production correspondence, collection of trailers and teasers, script excerpts of deleted scenes and alternate endings, excerpts from the short story “The Song of the Dragon,” source material for Notorious and rare newsreel footage of Bergman and Hitchcock.

Spellbound

Spellbound (1945): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038109/

“Spellbound,” released in 1945, also stars Bergman, and her leading man this time is Gregory Peck. The movie is one of Hitchcock’s puzzles, as Bergman plays a psychiatrist for a firm who learns that nothing is as it seems when a new doctor joins as the chief of staff. There is a murder mystery and a case of amnesia, but both are Hitchcock MacGuffins.

The Criterion Collection edition includes commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane, the illustrated essay “A Nightmare Ordered by Telephone,” excerpts from a 1973 audio interview with composer Miklos Rozsa, a complete 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, a WNYC/New York Public Radio piece, hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos and documents and the theatrical trailer.

The Lady Vanishes

The Lady Vanishes (1938): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030341/

“The Lady Vanishes” is the first movie on this list also included as a Criterion Collection Blu-ray. Released in 1938, this is one of Hitchcock’s most comic adventures as a woman travelling across Europe meets a charming older woman who then disappears from the train without a trace. The entire situation is one of Hitchcock’s most famous MacGuffins but it is one of his most entertaining early movies.

The Criterion Blu-ray and DVD includes audio commentary featuring film historian Bruce Eder, “Crook’s Tour,” a 1941 feature-length adventure film with characters from The “Lady Vanishes,” excerpts from Fran├žois Truffaut’s legendary 1962 audio interview with director Alfred Hitchcock, “Mystery Train,” a video essay about Hitchcock and a stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and promotional art.

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps (1935): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026029/

“The 39 Steps” is another espionage adventure, and one that just hit Blu-ray this year from Criterion. A 1935 film, it tells the story of a man who comes across a conspiracy and ends up in a game of cat and mouse. It is remarkably similar in plot and style to one of Hitchcock’s best movies, “North by Northwest,” and is a terrific companion film to that later masterpiece.

The Criterion Blu-ray and DVD include audio commentary by Alfred Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane, “Hitchcock: The Early Years (2000),” a British documentary covering the director’s prewar career, original footage from British broadcaster Mike Scott’s 1966 television interview with Hitchcock, complete broadcast of the 1937 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, new visual essay by Hitchcock scholar Leonard Leff, audio excerpts from Fran├žois Truffaut’s 1962 interviews with Hitchcock and original production design drawings.

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