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2002 Films on Disc  Stuart J. Kobak ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Vertigo Signature Collection/A-, A-

US/1958/Color/Widescreen 1.85:1/DD, Surround/128 minutes/Directed by Alfred Hitchcock/Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak/Universal/Audio Commentary/Theatrical Trailer/Documentary50 Chaps/2 discs/CLV-CAV/THX/$79.98

The beautiful restoration of Vertigo just released in this special edition from Universal is a revelation for me. It’s like the great wine that you’ve tasted and couldn’t understand why everyone was raving about it; then one day you are lucky enough to return to another bottle of the same vintage wine and it blossoms into a rose. All the Hitchcockian elements are realized with the pristine clarity of laser images. The Bernard Hermann score has been spruced electronically and is simply gorgeous. Never before have the sound and image of Vertigo combined to produce the startling hypnotic power of the film.

The best example of Vertigo’s brilliance is the extended sequence when Scotty trails Madelaine. The long, method, investigation by Scottie is presented by Hitchcock without dialogue. With the aid of Hermann’s grand score, the pictures tell the story eloquently, culminating in Madelaine’s dramatic plunge into the waters of San Francisco Bay. The choice of images, the variety of locations, and the superlative pacing of this sequence alone makes Vertigo a worthy viewing choice. And somehow, with the truer colors now restored the complex story line too becomes more vivid. The plot still is convoluted, but maybe the appreciation for this great series of scenes relates to a more mature point of view. The kid that first saw Vertigo longed for more action and maybe just a little blood, but the beauty of the San Francisco locales, Kim Novak and Hitchcock’s great eye for beauty of all sorts is captivating this time around.

Stewart’s performance as Scotty Ferguson is typically understated and brilliant. I am never quite sure what’s going through his mind, what motivation drives him to uncover the mystery of Judy after Madelaine’s death. Stewart strides atop an unsteady picket fence with grand poise, ever garnering the sympathy of his audience. Kim Novak is a fortuitous replacement for Vera Miles, Hitchcock’s original choice for the role. Novak took on the dual role of Madelaine/Judy when Miles inconveniently became pregnant. It turned into Novak’s best screen turn. Novak is an actress that exudes mystery. Her features add up to a beautiful woman, but they are somehow overstated as well. A fragility about her presence is a perfect match for Vertigo.

Vertigo adds up to enormous fun. It’s a classic Hitchcock mystery brilliantly produced and directed. Laser is a perfect medium to retrace some of your favorite Vertigo sequences.

Universal has mounted Vertigo in a special edition release worthy of its pedigree. Complimenting the beauty of the restored film is an excellent second audio commentary from the Vertigo restoration team of Robert Harris and James Katz, associate producer Herbert Coleman, screenwriter Samuel Taylor. Many aspects of the challenge of the restoration are explained scene specifically in the commentary. Critical decisions involving the character of the film were involved in finding the truth to the restoration. A special produced by American Movie Classics for cable chronicles the restoration process and stands out as a call for preservation of our film heritage. The special, however, doesn’t go far enough in documenting the awesome task of restoration. An alternate European "censorship" ending is included as well as several theatrical trailers. Story boards reveal how closely Hitchcock envisioned his finished films.

The laser disc production is excellent overall. The color, of course, is a special treat. There are several scenes that suffer from a slightly soft image, but otherwise the transfer is first rate all the way, and the sound is wonderful. Hermann’s music never fared as well. A definite must for every laser collection!


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Laser Disc Ratings

12 Monkeys Special/A-,B+ 

12 Monkeys/ B+,B

1941 SE/ C-, B-

a la Mode/B+,B+

A Pure Formality/C,B

After the Fox/C+,B


Albino Aligator/C+,B



American President/ B+, B+


Apocalypse Now/A-,A-

Apollo 13 SpecialA,A

Apollo 13//A,A



Bad and the Beautiful, The/A,B+


Bend of the River/ B, B+

Belle Epoque/B+,A-

Bhagdad Cafe/B,B

Big Country/ B, C

Big Deal on Madonna Street/B,B

Big Picture, The/B,B

Big Trees, The/C+,C+

Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars/B+,A

Blood and Wine/B,B

Blue Kite/B+,B


Bordello of Blood/C-,A-



Brazil Special Edition/B+,A-

Bride Came COD/B-,B

Bringing Up Baby/A,B

Brute Force/B+,B+


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/B,A-

Call Nothside 777/B+,C+

Camille Claudel/ A, B+

Canterville Ghost/C+,C+

Caro Diario/A-,A-
Captain from Castile/B,B+

Casino/ C+, B


Cause for Alarm/C,B-

Celestial Clockwork/B+,B-

China Moon/B+,A

Christmas in July/A,B+

Christopher Columbus(1949)/C,C

Come and Get It/B,B+


Courage Under Fire/B,A


Crimson Tide/A-,A

Crossing Guard, The/B,B+

Cutthroat Island/C, A

Dante's Peak/B-/B


Dead Man Walking/C+,B+

Dead Man/C+,A-

Dead Presidents Special/ B+,A

Dersu Uzala/B+,B


Diary of Ann Frank/ A-,B

Dodes'ka-den/ B+, B+

Double Happiness/ B+,B+



Earrings of Madame de.../ B+, B+

Enemy Below/ B, B

Englishman Who Went..../C,B

English Patient/B+,A


Escape from LA/B-,A

Everybody's Fine/C+,C+

Executive Decision/B+,A

Eye for an Eye/B,B+


Family Thing/B,B+
Farewell My Concubine/A-,A

Far Country/ B-, C+

Field of Dreams Special/A-,B+

Field of Dreams/ A-, B

Fierce Creatures/B-,B+

Fires on the Plain/B+,B


First Knight/ C-, B+

First Wives Club/C+,B+

For Whom the Bell Tolls/B-,B+
French Kiss/B-,B+

Frankie Starlight/B+,B


Free Willy 2/B-,B+

Funny Bones/A,A

Get Shorty/ A, A

Goldeneye/ B, A

Ghost Story/B,B

Great Escape(MGM)/A-,B-

Great Expectations/A,B+

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan/B+,C

Grosse Point Blank/A-,A-

Grumpier Old Men/B-,B+

Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, The/B,C-

Happy Gilmore/ B-, A-

Hard Boiled/B-,B+

Hard Eight/B,C+

Harriet the Spy/B,A

Haunting, The/A,B+

Head Above Water/D+,B


Heaven and Earth/B+,A-

Helen of Troy/C+,B+

Henry V/A,B


Hoop Dreams/A,A

Horseman on the Roof/B-,B

Innocent, The/ C, C

Innocents, The/ A, A-

Interrupted Melody/C+,C

Into the West/A,B+

Inventing the Abbots/B-,B+


Jean de Florette/ A-, B-

Jumanji/ B+, B+

Kansas City/D+,C+





La Dolce Vita/ A, B

Last Dance/B,B+

Last Man Standing/C,B

Last Supper, The/B-,B+

League of Gentlemen/B,B

Leave Her to Heaven/B+,B+

Les Miserables/ B, B+

Liar,Liar Special/B+,A


List of Adrien Messinger/B,B+

Lonely are the Brave/A-,A-
Lord of Illusions/B,A-

Love Jones/B,A-

Mi Familia/A-,A-

Miracle of Morgan's Creek/B,B-


Mission Impossible/C+,B+

Mona Lisa/B+,B+


Mulholland Falls/C+,B

Muriel's Wedding/ B, B+

My Name is Nobody/C,C

Mystery of Rampo/ A-, B

Natural Born Killers/B,B+


Net, The/ C, B+


Nothing Sacred/B,C

Old Man and the Sea/B,B


Peeping Tom/A-,A-
Raw Deal/B+,B
Red Firecracker,Green Firecracker/B+,A


Richard III/A,A


River Wild/B+,A-

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion/B,B

Room at the Top/A-,B



Seven SE/ B+, A

Shawshank Redemption/A-,A

Shining Through/C+,B

Silence of the Lambs/A,A
Sling Blade/A,B+


Something to Talk About/ B-, B+

Spartacus Special Edition/A,A


Star Trek: First Contact/C+,A-

Stars Fell on Henrietta/ C+,B+

Stealing Beauty/B,B

Strange Days/ C+, B+


Sudden Death/ B, A-

Sullivan's Travels/B+,B

Surviving Picasso/C,B+


That Old Feeling/B-,A-

That Thing You Do/B,C+

They Drive By Night/B,B

Thieves(Les Voleurs)/B,B

Things You Do in Denver When You're Dead/D+,B+

This Sporting Life/A-,B+

Timemaster/ D, C

Tom and Viv/B-,B-

Tortilla Flat/B+,B


Trees Lounge/B-,B-

Trigger Effect/B-,B+

Two Bits/C,B


Umbrellas of Cherbourg/B+,B


Usual Suspects/ B-,C+

Valdez is Coming/C+,B-

Vengeance Valley/B,C+


Virtuosity/ C+, A

Wait Until Dark/B,B-

Walk in the Clouds, A/ A-,


Waterworld/ B+, B

White Man's Burden/ B, B+

White Squall/ B,A

Whole Wide World/B,B

Wicked City/ B, C+

Wild Bill/ C+, B

Window to Paris/ B,B

Wonderful,Horrible World Life..../B+,B

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 Films on Disc 1999  Stuart J. Kobak , all rights reserved.