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5.0 out of 5 starsIS THERE A NEW BLU-RAY TRANSFER OF PSYCHO? + Blu-Ray Filmography of Hitchcock
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2017
NEW PROBLEM: Universal Pictures Home Video messed up the original mono soundtrack on the new 60th Anniversary Psycho Blu-ray / 4-K. The disc has been recalled and remastered in true mono (the gimmicky 7.1 soundtrack remains an option if you like that sort of thing). For how to go about getting a replacement disc, see Comments Four and Five following my review.
2020 UPDATE: YES! THERE FINALLY IS A NEW BLU-RAY OF PSYCHO. Hooray! This is the fourth time Universal has released ‘Psycho’ on Blu-ray. The first three had different covers (see photos), but the contents were identical (see the end of this review for my original review). The new “60th Anniversary Edition” Blu-ray, released in 2020, finally offers something different: The original uncut version. To make sure the Blu-ray you are ordering is the 60th Anniversary Edition, copy and paste in the Amazon Search bar: Psycho 60th Anniversary Blu-ray
I was really excited about the uncut version. After viewing it, my excitement has cooled somewhat (though I’m still glad I bought it). Both the old 50th Anniversary version and the new 60th Anniversary version are included on the new Blu-ray. The old version is 1 hour, 48 minutes, 51 seconds. The new version is 1 hour, 49 minutes, 04 seconds. This is a 13 second difference. Three scenes are slightly altered: -- @ 44:44 Janet Leigh is undressing for the shower. There is a two second shot where she removes her bra, but it is shot from an angle where we can’t see her breasts, so there was little need to edit it in the first place (see black and white photo). -- @53:06 Norman Bates stares at the blood on his hands and takes much longer washing his hands than in the older version. -- @1:17:47 Martin Balsam is attacked and falls down the stairs. Mother then stabs him three times while he is lying on the floor, versus just one stab in the older version.
I was expecting cuts in the shower scene (no pun intended) - the most controversial scene in the movie - but it is identical in both versions (2 minutes, 38 seconds). Kind of a letdown, but the new version can still accurately be described as the longest version on Blu-ray. All the bonus features (quite a lot) are carried over from the old Blu-rays. I thought Universal would at least have produced a new featurette about the restored scenes, but they passed on the opportunity. All versions have English SDH subtitles.
NEW 4-K VERSION: Universal has been remastering all their Hitchcock films in 4-K since at least 2010. But when they were transferred to standard Blu-ray (like this), the transfers were dumbed down to the earlier Blu-ray standard (still a big improvement over DVD). If you can afford a 4-K Television and 4-K Blu-ray player, you should certainly consider the newly released eight-disc boxed set (four 4-K Blu-rays + four standard Blu-rays) from Universal: Copy and paste the following phrase in the Amazon search bar: The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4-K Blu-Ray
Four Hitchcock films make their 4-K debut in this box: ‘Rear Window’, ‘Vertigo’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Birds’ (though only ‘Psycho’ has new material). Amazon is selling it for $60 which is quite a bargain. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it comes packaged in the thick cardboard “Little Golden Book” format with minimal protection for the discs. Presumably the four individual films will be released separately on 4-K in the near future (‘Psycho’ in 4-K has already appeared in the UK).
ALFRED HITCHCOCK FILMOGRAPHY: Alfred Hitchcock directed 56 feature films (not counting short subjects). For the complete list, and Blu-ray availability, see Comment One.
MY OLD REVIEW - AVOID THESE BLU-RAYS: Before 2020, Universal issued ‘Psycho’ on blu-ray three times, each time with a different cover (see photos)
Two obvious questions: 1) Did Universal add any deleted scenes or bonus features that were missing from the first blu-ray? 2) Is version B or C a new digital transfer? --- Unfortunately, the answers are No and No.
This is pure cynicism on the part of Universal. All three blu-rays are identical. Only the covers are different. -- The “Steelbook Edition” simply means that the blu-ray comes packaged in a steel case instead of a plastic case. It will survive a nuclear holocaust, but if you drop it, it will get dented and look crappy. -- Unless you are an aging hipster, the “Collectible Pop Art Edition” is beneath contempt. -------------------------------------------------
So get the new “60th Anniversary Psycho Blu-ray” (or the 4-K Blu-ray if you have the equipment to play it).
SYNC IS OFF. This is for the Blu-Ray with UV streaming made by Universal.
Amazon was nice enough to send a replacement but the sound comes slightly before picture (on both) so it's definitely a bad master. This is definitely something they can fix in the digital age, so unfortunately a tech person didn't catch it and all the copies (hundreds of thousands?) made from the master digital file are going to be the same.
It's too distracting to watch like this from the opening and throughout the film. I find myself watching their lips instead of enjoying the movie.
THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE LEGACY EDITION DVD--THE BLU RAY IS AMAZING (5-stars) AND WORTH DOUBLE DIPPING (or in my case triple dipping).
I am not a techno wiz so I have no idea what it takes to remaster an older movie, but this was NO different than the collector's edition that came out several years ago. I was very disappointed as there is still a ton of specs during the movie and it's very grainy. In fact I am not sure this isn't WORSE than the one before. If they can take a movie from 1940 (It's a Wonderful Life) and make it almost flawless, why couldn't they do it to Psycho, which was made 20 years later. Very disappointing. The special features are all fine but half of them were on the other disc too. But regardless, you buy a dvd for the film and this is a major let down. I want my $20 back.
Need I say more? This 5-star movie on the Universal DVD is shown in "widescreen" format, but framed within a 4:3 viewing ratio. Which means you get black bars on the top and bottom, AND left and right. Which doesn't look like what you expect to see with any other movie on your widescreen TV. Do you get it? So, my conclusion is that Universal Home Video has really screwed up on the Hitchcock films they control. From the botched "restoration" on Rear Window (it's too fuzzy), to the goofy foley effects re-recorded for Vertigo, and now this insult to movie buffs (similar to BBC video's that keep their widescreen content firmly fixed in the 4:3 frame).
Paramount, on the other hand, got it right with their latest issue of "To Catch A Thief" with a clean sharp print, preserving the original VistaVision aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (as anamorphic widescreen).
I don't know why so many of the classic Hitchcock films are getting such bad treatment, with films such as "Notorious" and "Spellbound" remaining currently unavailable (check out the used prices to see how valuable these films really are). What I have seen from Criterion are only partially restored, and not digitized and cleaned up as current restoration efforts can accomplish.
I'm passing on any more Hitchcock DVD's from Universal, unless I have some confidence that the re-issues are done with some real attention to the quality of the release, as Paramount has done with their later releases.