North by Northwest - Warner
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Written by Ernest Lehmann.
Region 2 DVD Review. (although almost everything written here could be applied to the Region 1 DVD release.)
BBFC rating : PG (for occasional theatrical suspense)
North by Northwest is possibly Alfred Hitchcock's most entertaining American thriller. He has made better films, but few are as genuinely enthralling as this fabulous chase movie about mistaken identity, espionage and dramatic irony. The film just doesn't stop for breath. An advertising executive is mistaken by the villains as a government agent on their case. He is soon in connection with a murder, and is wanted on both sides of the law. A pleasingly sly mixture of action, sexiness, and jaw-slacking moments.
The DVD presentation of this film is superb, in fact it's better than that. It's a revelation. Originally shot in VistaVision; a 35mm camera format which uses double length frames to increase horizontal resolution, the film elements of this movie are badly in need of film restoration, a la Vertigo had been restored back in 1996. However, what Warner's video restoration team have done, is to transfer an unusable film print to the digital domain, fix the colour balance of each shot digitally, and clean each frame of dirt using the computer to remove the artifacts. Because of this care and attention to detail, the DVD's anamorphic image is bold, detailed, saturated and a joy to behold. Utterly stunning! Please, just throw away your old NbNW Criterion Collection laserdiscs and run for a copy of this superb DVD.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is the chosen sound format for this remastered DVD edition, and it serves the film rather well, showcasing Bernard Hermann's extravagant score and a few directional effects including the cropduster flying over camera. Dialogue sounds a little strained at times, but the film is over 40 years old. Much, much better than I was expecting. The lack of the original soundtrack deserves a tiny slap on the wrist though.
Extras on this DVD include an audio commentary with the writer Ernest Lehmann, an isolated score stereo soundtrack, Theatrical trailer, photographs and a 40 minute making of documentary. A well produced selection of extras.