In 2012, Paramount issued ‘To Catch a Thief’ on Blu-ray: [[ASIN:B00AEBB8H4 To Catch A Thief (1955) (BD) [Blu-ray]]] (see photo)
It was a model of what a “special edition” should be. I gave it five stars:
---- Beautifully remastered 2K picture.
---- Audio commentary by film historian Drew Casper.
---- Nine well-done bonus featurettes (89 minutes).
In 2020, Paramount issued a “new and improved” 4k scan of ‘To Catch a Thief’.
But something went wrong in the transfer to Blu-ray.
Detail is lost - It looks closer to DVD.
Old film stock had something called “grain”.
Cinematographers knew how to use grain to add depth and detail to the photographic image.
Grain is good, but younger viewers, accustomed to the flat, smooth image of digital video, often think it is a flaw.
The new “4K” scan has been manipulated to remove nearly all of the grain that was present in 2012.
I could achieve the same effect by adjusting the “sharpness” setting on my TV screen to minimum, but why would I want to?
Skin tones are waxy.
And it is not an authentic 4-K Blu-ray anyway (those things are expensive).
The technical specs have been dumbed down to standard Blu-ray.
One other obvious difference: the night scenes had a greenish tint in 2012, and a bluish tint in 2020.
I’m not sure which is authentic, but you can make out more detail in the greenish picture.
Also, the film had a mono soundtrack when it was sent to theaters in 1955.
The 2012 Blu-ray gave you a choice of original mono or two channel stereo.
The two channel stereo sounds surprisingly natural - apparently separate music, audio and sound effects tracks survive in the Paramount vault.
For 2020, Paramount has created a 5.1 soundtrack - barely noticeable difference from stereo.
No mono or stereo option with the new Blu-ray.
Both Blu-rays have a wide-screen picture, filmed using Paramount's VistaVision process.
If the 2012 Blu-ray did not exist, I would give the new Blu-ray five stars, but the competition is too much.
The final nail in the coffin of the new Blu-ray is the lack of supplementary material.
The 2012 Blu-ray had 89 minutes of informative and entertaining featurettes, many of them featuring Hitchcock’s daughter and granddaughter.
For the new Blu-ray, eight featurettes, totaling 83 minutes were scrapped.
Only one featurette was saved, devoted to Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (6 minutes).
There is one new featurette with film critic Leonard Maltin (7 minutes) - nice, but certainly not an adequate replacement for all the goodies that were lost.
2012 = Nine Featurettes (89 minutes)
2020 = Two Featurettes (13 minutes)
BONUS FEATURES COMMON TO BOTH BOXES:
---- Audio commentary by Drew Casper.
---- "Behind the Gates: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly" (6 minutes)
---- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes)
---- English SDH subtitles for the feature film
BONUS FEATURES UNIQUE TO 2020:
---- “Filmmaker Focus”: an appreciation by critic Leonard Maltin (7 minutes)
---- English SDH subtitles for the audio commentary. This is actually a good idea. Now I can follow the audio commentary with the sound turned down and not disturb my dog who is sleeping next to me.
BONUS FEATURES UNIQUE TO 2012:
83 minutes of background material were scrapped:
---- "A Night with the Hitchcocks" (23 minutes) - USC symposium hosted by Drew Casper, with Hitchcock's daughter Pat and granddaughter Mary.
---- "Unacceptable Under the Code: Censorship in Hollywood" (12 minutes)
---- "Writing and Casting 'To Catch a Thief'" (9 minutes)
---- "The Making of 'To Catch a Thief'" (17 minutes)
---- "Alfred Hitchcock and 'To Catch a Thief': An Appreciation" (8 minutes)
---- "Edith Head: The Paramount Years" (14 minutes) portrait of the legendary costume designer.
---- Interactive Travelogue of the French Riviera highlighting locations seen in the film, from Nice to Cannes.
---- Galleries: scene shots, publicity stills and production photos
ALFRED HITCHCOCK FILMOGRAPHY:
Alfred Hitchcock directed 56 feature films (not counting short subjects).
---- 'The Mountain Eagle' (1927) is a lost film.
---- 'Blackmail' (1929) is counted twice - it was Hitchcock's final silent film, and was also filmed as his first talkie.
---- 'Aventure Malgache' and 'Bon Voyage' (1944) are not feature films. These were French-language propaganda shorts (combined running time: 57 minutes) produced during World War II. Available on DVD [[ASIN:B00000G0DM Alfred Hitchcock's Bon Voyage & Aventure Malgache]] or Amazon Prime Video.
In the following list I give preference to Blu-ray over DVD, and to Region 1 (US) over Region 2 (Europe), but sometimes this was not possible:
The best copies of ‘The Pleasure Garden’ (1925), ‘Elstree Calling’ (1930) and ‘Number 17 (1932) are on Region 2 import DVDs.
The best copies of ‘Sabotage’ (1936) and ‘Young and Innocent’ (1937) are on Region B import Blu-rays.
There are no really good copies of ‘Easy Virtue’, ‘Juno and the Paycock’ or ‘Secret Agent’ - my stopgap recommendation is the Mill Creek four-DVD box which is inexpensive if nothing else.
A region-free Blu-ray player is a good investment.
They cost about $150 on Amazon or Ebay.
Under Electronics, look up “region free Blu-ray player”.
- or you can watch Region 2 DVDs (but not Region B Blu-rays) on your computer’s DVD drive.
PART ONE: BRITISH FILMS, 1925-1939
All nine surviving silent films received new 4K restorations by the British Film Institute (BFI) in 2012.
---- seven of these 2012 restorations are now on Blu-ray.
---- two are not yet on Blu-ray: ‘The Pleasure Garden’ and ‘Easy Virtue’ - for updates, sign up for the Brenton Films Hitchcock e-mail list. See Comment One (sort by "Oldest").
1925 [[ASIN:B0032O66F4 The Pleasure Garden [Region 2]]] (Region 2 Europe DVD)
1927 The Mountain Eagle - LOST FILM
1927 [[ASIN:B06XP1WFQF The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]]] - BFI restoration (coupled with ‘Downhill’)
1927 Downhill [Blu-ray] - BFI restoration (coupled with ‘The Lodger’ (1927) on Criterion Collection)
1927 The Ring [Blu-ray] - BFI restoration in [[ASIN:B07XR5HT4R Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection [Blu-ray]]]
1928 Easy Virtue - in MILL CREEK BOX (American DVD) **
1928 The Farmer's Wife [Blu-ray] - BFI restoration in [[ASIN:B07XR5HT4R Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection [Blu-ray]]]
1928 Champagne [Blu-ray] - BFI restoration in [[ASIN:B07XR5HT4R Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection [Blu-ray]]]
1929 The Manxman [Blu-ray] - BFI restoration in [[ASIN:B07XR5HT4R Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection [Blu-ray]]]
1929 Blackmail - silent version [Blu-ray] - BFI restoration (coupled with sound version)
BRITISH SOUND FILMS
1929 [[ASIN:B07SJ9H6PG Blackmail (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]]] (sound version - coupled with silent version)
1930 [[ASIN:B00I05PUIO Elstree Calling [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]]] (Region 2 Europe DVD)
1930 Juno and the Paycock - in MILL CREEK BOX (American DVD) **
1930 [[ASIN:B07SG7Q8D4 Murder! (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]]] (coupled with ‘Mary’)
1931 Mary [Blu-ray] - German language version of 'Murder!' (coupled with ‘Murder!’ (1930)
1931 The Skin Game [Blu-ray] - in [[ASIN:B07XR5HT4R Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection [Blu-ray]]]
1931 Rich and Strange - in STUDIOCANAL BOX (Region 2 Europe DVD) or LIONS GATE BOX (American DVD) *
1932 Number 17 - in STUDIOCANAL BOX (Region 2 Europe DVD) *
1934 Waltzes from Vienna [[ASIN:B0031SU2XS Alfred Hitchcock's Waltzes From Vienna]] DVD
1934 [[ASIN:B009RWRIP2 The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]]] (first version)
1935 [[ASIN:B007N5YJWK The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]]]
1936 Secret Agent - in MILL CREEK BOX (American DVD) **
1936 [[ASIN:B00T87VXSE Sabotage [Blu-ray]]] (Region B Europe Blu-ray)
1937 [[ASIN:B001JV5BJY Young and Innocent]] (American DVD) - or - [[ASIN:B00MPOMWLO Young and Innocent [Blu-ray]]] (Region B Europe Blu-ray)
1938 [[ASIN:B005ND87JU The Lady Vanishes (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]]]
1939 [[ASIN:B00TU29O88 Jamaica Inn [Blu-ray]]
* STUDIOCANAL BOXED SET: [[ASIN:B01CI2LHPE Hitchcock, The Early Years [DVD]]] - Region 2 Europe DVDs:
‘Rich and Strange’ and ‘Number 17’ are in this UK box, issued by StudioCanal.
LIONS GATE BOXED SET: [[ASIN:B000KJU12S The Alfred Hitchcock Box Set (The Ring / The Manxman / Murder! / The Skin Game / Rich and Strange)]] - American DVDs
- this is the American edition of the StudioCanal box, unfortunately not complete:
‘Rich and Strange’ is in this box, but not ‘Number 17’.
** MILL CREEK DVD BOX: [[ASIN:B000UVV25Q Alfred Hitchcock: The Legend Begins - 20 Movie Classics]] - American DVDs
This is a collection of 18 British films, squeezed onto four DVDs in terrible transfers. But at least the price is super-cheap. It contains several rarities:
---- 1928 Easy Virtue - no really good alternative to Mill Creek
---- 1930 Juno and the Paycock - no really good alternative to Mill Creek
---- 1936 Secret Agent - no really good alternative to Mill Creek
---- also Number 17 and Sabotage, which are available in superior competing versions from the UK.
PART TWO: HOLLYWOOD, 1940-1976
30 films: 28 are on blu-ray.
(some of them were filmed in the UK, but produced and released by American studios)
1940 [[ASIN:B071XF71K4 Rebecca (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]]]
1940 [[ASIN:B00LUSUVQE Foreign Correspondent [Blu-ray]]]
1941 Mr. & Mrs. Smith DVD - [[ASIN:B00OTADFTU Mr & Mrs Smith]] also on Amazon Prime Video
1941 [[ASIN:B01CZ2NDY0 Suspicion [Blu-ray]]]
1942 [[ASIN:B00BM79PB0 Saboteur [Blu-ray]]] *
1943 [[ASIN:B00BM79UO2 Shadow of a Doubt [Blu-ray]]] *
1944 [[ASIN:B01N33IYBI Lifeboat [Blu-ray]]]
1945 [[ASIN:B0065N6KNW Spellbound (hitchcock) [Blu-ray]]]
1946 [[ASIN:B07JVF7M7M Notorious (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]]]
1947 [[ASIN:B06XRV48SR The Paradine Case]] [Blu-Ray]
1948 [[ASIN:B00BM7A1AO Rope [Blu-ray]]] *
1949 [[ASIN:B07C53ZZXY Under Capricorn [Blu-ray]]]
1950 Stage Fright DVD - [[ASIN:B0002HOEQW Stage Fright]] also on Amazon Prime Video
1951 [[ASIN:B008DMQDZS Strangers On A Train (BD) [Blu-ray]]]
1953 [[ASIN:B01ACP5426 I Confess (1953) [Blu-ray]]]
1954 [[ASIN:B006LMIMW4 Dial M for Murder (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray)  [Region Free]]] (2-D and 3-D versions)
1954 [[ASIN:B00J2R3W1G Rear Window [Blu-ray]]] *
1955 [[ASIN:B00AEBB8H4 To Catch A Thief (1955) (BD) [Blu-ray]]]
1955 [[ASIN:B00BM7A5RS The Trouble with Harry [Blu-ray]]] *
1956 [[ASIN:B00BM7AA1Y The Man Who Knew Too Much [Blu-ray]]] (second version) *
1956 [[ASIN:B019HPJBY4 The Wrong Man [Blu-ray]]]
1958 [[ASIN:B00J2R3VZI Vertigo [Blu-ray]]] *
1959 [[ASIN:B014IAWFU0 North By Northwest (1959) (BD) [Blu-ray]]] *
1960 [[ASIN:B00J2R3W52 Psycho (1960) [Blu-ray]]] *
1963 [[ASIN:B01FUYRK76 The Birds [Blu-ray]]] *
1964 [[ASIN:B00BM7AFKK Marnie [Blu-ray]]] *
1966 [[ASIN:B00BM7APUU Torn Curtain [Blu-ray]]] *
1969 [[ASIN:B00BM7ATXI Topaz [Blu-ray]]] *
1972 [[ASIN:B00BM7B0EK Frenzy [Blu-ray]]] *
1976 [[ASIN:B00BM7B4FU Family Plot [Blu-ray]]] *
* these fifteen films are also in bargain Blu-ray boxes (no new remasterings):
---- 2012: [[ASIN:B008DCAG9M Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] (2012)]]
---- 2016 reissue: [[ASIN:B019329V7S Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]]] (same fifteen films)
---- 2017 reissue: [[ASIN:B074Q1QHRW Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection [Blu-ray]]] (same fifteen films + two blu-rays of Hitchcock television shows).
---- 2012: Fourteen film Blu-ray box: [[ASIN:B008RLD1VY Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection [Blu Ray]]] (minus 'North by Northwest')
This is a British import (considerably less expensive)
Unlike most British Blu-rays, these are region-free and should play on any US player.
The bonus features of the British and American Blu-rays are identical.