The "Master of Suspense," Alfred Hitchcock, was given two film treatments in 2012. The superior movie was released as a theatrical feature starring Helen Mirren and, as the great director himself, Anthony Hopkins.
Now "Hitchcock" comes to DVD and Blu-ray in a combo pack that also offers a digital copy of the film and access to the Ultraviolet online edition.
Overall, the film's home entertainment release is good news. Though the film suffers from the inclusion of a strange subplot in which Hitch has imaginary conversations with serial killer Ed Gein (whose exploits inspired "Psycho" and, later, "The Silence of the Lambs"), there's a wonderful core focus on the relationship between Hitch and his wife, Alma (Mirren), who was not only his life partner but his creative partner as well.
"Hitchcock" details how Hitch and Alma financed the making of "Psycho" by putting up the production costs themselves, at the risk of losing their house. The film glosses over another risk to home and hearth, signaling that Alfred Hitchcock was capable of obsession and bad behavior when it came to his blonde leading ladies (Janet Leigh in the case of "Psycho," played here by Scarlett Johansson) but not doing much with it; instead, we see Hitch taking Alma's writing partnership with Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) as a sign that she's being unfaithful to him. His obsession veers away from Janet Leigh and toward his own marriage, until Alma puts him in his place with a short, sharp tirade.
Making up for all this silliness is a cogent examination of the obstacles the production faced and top-flight performances from Hopkins and Mirren. Danny Elfman's score is bright and pays homage to Bernard Herrmann's original compositions for "Psycho." Jeff Cronenweth's cinematography indulges in a bit of cinematic nostalgia for the hues and lighting of movies circa 1960.
The DVD portion of this combo pack carries scant extras -- only the film's digital copy is to be found here, along with previews for other films. The gradually mounting pressure on the consumer to upgrade is now in full force, given that all the bonus material is on the Blu-ray disc.
But what a stock of treasures! The bounty includes nearly a half-dozen featurettes ("Obsessed with Hitchcock," "Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock," "Danny Elfman: Maestro," "Hitch and Alma," "Remembering Hitchcock"), audio commentary by director Sacha Gervasi, the director's cell phone video from behind the scenes, a deleted scene, and promo spots focused on "The Story" and "The Cast."
Even if you are still watching DVDs on a standard-def television, and despite the film's flaws, this is a fun and worthwhile addition to the Hitchcock lover's trove. Put it on the same shelf as all of the Master's great works, because this is a stylish addendum to his cinema corpus.
Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack with Digital Copy and Ultraviolet