Alfred Hitchcock is back. Universal pictures is releasing on DVD 16 titles of the suspense god and arguably of the greatest film directors ever. Hitchcock was indeed a very rare animal: an auteur working within the confines of Hollywood. The jewel on the crown of this collection is the re-issue of Psycho, which comes in red board packaging with a bonus disc, The Hitchcock Legacy’. This includes a Masters of Cinema interview and the American Film Institute Salute to Alfred Hitchcock, the footage of the ceremony in which he was awarded a lifetime achievement gong. Ingrid Bergman and James Stewart are two of the old-school legends talking luvvie to Hitcock, who watches the praise-showering while sitting still as a stone, wearing his characteristic deadpan expression while Hollywood melts around him. It makes for very funny viewing, and quite moving as well. When he takes to the microphone, he entertains the audience with his dry wit. This rare footage alone makes this package worthwhile for any fan of his work.
And then there’s the Psycho. It’s almost impossible to write anything about this film, which arguably contains one of the most memorable scenes and score in the history of Western cinema (the shower scene in which Janet Jason Leigh gets stabbed to death), that hasn’t been said before. Among the many elements that make it great, such as the cinematography, the minimalism of the narrative and the flawless wit of the dialogues, is Hitchcock’s superb direction and the psychological sphere he creates, the sense of guilt and paranoia that tap into the subconscious of the viewer from the very beginning.
Hitchcock discovered a very elusive element in the art of film-making, which is to create a profound sense of identification with the audience. With Psycho, one could argue that he hypnotises us and we gladly surrender to his directorial voice as the film progresses artfully from take to take. Janet Jason Leigh (Marion Crane) is perfect as the jittery, ‘liberated’ all-American woman on the run with US$40,000 while Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates) is wondrous as the psychotic victim of a lethal oedipal complex running a roadside motel where Crane meets her ghastly end. To put it in a nutshell, Psycho is cinema at its most seductive.
The Hitchcock collection also includes Family Plot, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Frenzy, Marnie, the Trouble With Harry, Rope, Torn Curtain, Mr and Mrs Smith, Foreign Correspondent and Topaz. A 15-disc box will be available from November.