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http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/hitchcock.htm
USA 1959

While preparing “Vertigo”, Hitchcock was taken ill and during his convalescence, he had read the book “The Wreck of Mary Deare”, which impressed him to such a degree, that he decided for it to become his next project. He subsequently made a one picture deal with MGM to film it. To write the screenplay, Hitchcock took Ernest Lehman onboard, and while he wasn’t that impressed with the book, actually thinking the book wouldn’t make a good film, he wouldn’t miss the chance to work with Hitchcock. Lehman and Hitchcock would meet and spend the day talking, but each time Lehman began talking about the film, Hitchcock became distressed. It became obvious to Lehman, that Hitchcock had no idea how to turn the book into a film, which again stressed him more, as he was less than enthusiastic about writing it. Eventually, Lehman told Hitchcock, that he wouldn’t write it, to which Hitchcock relaxed said, “then we do something else.” Discussing what that something else should be, Lehman eventually told Hitchcock, that he wanted to make a Hitchcock film to end all Hitchcock films, and thus “North by Northwest” was born.

During the following weeks, Hitchcock and Lehman would then sit and talk about different story elements, which eventually turned into an idea, which then took shape and finally became the script. The story is a concoction of various ideas Hitchcock always wanted to make, of paraphrasing different Hitchcock films and themes and so forth, for instance Hitchcock’s idea, to have a speaker at the UN become more and more agitated about a member who was sleeping during the speech, only to discover he actually was dead. Eventually, it all began to take a shape and later on turned into a story.

Roger O. Thornhill is your everyday Madison Avenue advertising man, who gets mistaken for the spy George Kaplan. Escaping a staged accident, he is determined to find out what its all about, but instead of answers, he finds himself on the run from the police, being a murder suspect, and from the those who set him up and want him dead. The problem is however, that George Kaplan doesn’t exist, but is a phantom created by an intelligence agency, a decoy, so that the real spy isn’t uncovered.

“North by Northwest” is the definitive Hitchcock film. It is a celebration of everything that Hitchcock is about: stunning set pieces, seductive blondes, espionage, double chase motif, mistaken identities, innocent accused, macguffin’s, trains, Hitchcockian wit and Cary Grant. In short, all of Hitchcock’s dreams and nightmares in overdrive.

As with all of Hitchcock’s films, it deals with loss of identity. Here even more, as Roger O Thornhill really doesn’t have an identity to begin with. He is still attached to his mother and the middle initial, “O”, stands for nothing (except an in-joke about David O. Selznick). As Donald Spoto notes, the film is about self-realization. Once he unwillingly becomes George Kaplan, he becomes a man of action, rather than a man of excuses, thereby gaining a personality, an identity and realizing himself.

It is no coincidence that Cary Grant became the lead. He was Hitchcock’s favourite actor, more than that, he was Hitchcock’s dream projection of himself. “North by Northwest” can thus be seen as a homage, not only to himself, but also to Grant and to acting.

A key motif is make-believe and Hitchcock even creates somewhat of a parallelism between advertising and espionage, as “in advertising, there is no such thing as a lie”, which one might as well say about the world of espionage. Both worlds live by deceiving others, in fact their survival depends upon it.

North by Northwest” became Hitchcock’s greatest box office success, only beaten by Wyler's “Ben Hur”, and today it is the most seen and most celebrated of his films. It is a film made by one of the greatest masters of cinema at the height of his career, it is a declaration of love to everything his art was about and thus the definitive Hitchcock film. A timeless masterpiece.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 17, 1959

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Comparison:

Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner (50th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray same as Universal (Masterpiece Collection) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

NOTE: * The DVD of "North by Northwest" in "The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection" is the same 04/08/2000 R1 edition.

Universal (The Masterpiece Collection) - Region FREE - Blu-ray Package

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow and Guillaume Mareri for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

4) Universal (The Masterpiece Collection) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

  

The DVD also comes in The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection which includes - Strangers on a Train Two-Disc Edition / North by Northwest / Dial M for Murder / Foreign Correspondent / Suspicion / The Wrong Man / Stage Fright / I Confess / Mr. and Mrs. Smith

          

Distribution

Warner Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Warner Home Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Warner Home Entertainment
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Universal (Masterpiece Collection) - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:16:15 2:10:44 (4% PAL speedup) 2:16:25.218 2:16:25.218
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.71 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.91 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,246,306,294 bytes

Feature: 34,328,414,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.73 Mbps

Codec: VC-1 Video Video

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,824,536,468 bytes

Feature: 33,591,656,448 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.73 Mbps

Codec: VC-1 Video Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Warner Home Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

Warner Home Entertainment (UK)

 

Bitrate:

Warner

Blu-ray

Bitrate:

Universal

Blu-ray

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English, 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono French, 2.0 Dolby Digital (score only)

5.1 Dolby Digital English, 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono French, 2.0 Dolby Digital (score only)

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1326 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1326 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1326 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1326 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, French and None English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, German, English CC English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Ernest Lehman
• Destination Hitchcock: The Making of NbNW (39:27)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:15)
• Hitchcock Trailer (3:16)
• TV Commercial (1:04)
• Stills gallery
• Score only track

DVD Release Date: August 29, 2000
Snapper Case

Chapters 46

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Ernest Lehman
• Destination Hitchcock: The Making of NbNW (39:27)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:15)
• Hitchcock Trailer (3:16)
• TV Commercial (1:04)
• Stills gallery
• Score only track

 

DVD Release Date: April 9th, 2001
Snap Case

Chapters 46

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,246,306,294 bytes

Feature: 34,328,414,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.73 Mbps

Codec: VC-1 Video Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Ernest Lehman
• "The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style" documentary (57:32 SD)
• "North by Northwest: One for the Ages" documentary (25:29 SD)
• "Cary Grant: A Class Apart" documentary (1:27:12 SD)
• "Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest" documentary (39:27 SD)

• 'Music Only' Audio track

• Stills gallery

• Theatrical trailers, a guided tour with Alfred Hitchcock, and TV Spot

Blu-ray Release Date:
November 3rd, 2009
Digibook Blu-ray Case

Chapters 46

Release Information:
Studio:
Universal

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,824,536,468 bytes

Feature: 33,591,656,448 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.73 Mbps

Codec: VC-1 Video Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Ernest Lehman
• "The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style" documentary (57:32 SD)
• "North by Northwest: One for the Ages" documentary (25:29 SD)
• "Cary Grant: A Class Apart" documentary (1:27:12 SD)
• "Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest" documentary (39:27 SD)

• 'Music Only' Audio track

• Stills gallery

• Theatrical trailers, a guided tour with Alfred Hitchcock, and TV Spot

Blu-ray Release Date:
October 29th, 2012
Custom Bookstyle case

Chapters 46

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Universal (Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection) - Region FREE Blu-ray - October 12': The Universal (Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection) is the same transfer as the 2009 Warner Blu-ray - same encode; VC-1, same bitrate, Dolby TrueHD, same extras, same subtitles and DUBs, and starts with the Warner logo.

***

ADDITION: Warner - Region FREE Blu-ray - October 09: The Press Release for this Blu-ray Edition states: "The arrival of North by Northwest on Blu-ray is a landmark event in home video history, as it marks the very first of the famed director’s films to become available on this state-of-the-art format. Accordingly, the film has received a meticulous restoration and remastering especially for this occasion with Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging scanning the original VistaVision production elements in 8K resolution. The resulting presentation reveals a depth of field and clarity never before possible, only serving to heighten every thrill-packed moment of this beloved classic." It is not quite the first Hitchcock film on Blu-ray as ITV in the UK nipped them in the bud with The 39 Steps released mid-October of 2009 HERE.

Like most Warner Blu-rays this is region FREE and the film starts immediately upon putting the disc in the player.

While colors are more intense on the new 1080P edition - the overall image is quite a bit darker. Blue seems far more predominant than on the previous snapper -cased DVD editions. Never having seen this theatrically I'll have to let the experts debate the correctness of the bolder color scheme.  The DVDBeaver ListServ says:

"If memory serves me right .... (which at my age it doesn't always do) ... the colour on the Blu looks a lot like the colour I saw in cinemas. The earlier DVD releases seemed to sport more "natural" colour than I remembered."
(Thanks BR!)

"Yes, Bill I think that's pretty close to theatrical presentations. They seem to have rebalanced the red down the dial to normal - certainly blues look cleaner. My only fear is that it could go too far into the dark range like Warner's awful HD/BD version of Rio Bravo (which is muddy and brown.) But given it's from an 8K pass it should be pretty amazing!"
(Thanks DH!)

"I can anecdotally confirm that the Blu-ray images are accurate (or much more so than the DVD images). I saw the film when it was released, several times when shown in art house cinemas in the 80s, and, most recently, when I saw it in a theater about ten years ago."
(Thanks RB!)

Noise still exists - but to a far lesser degree - and there is not as much grain to report as I had anticipated. Black levels are piercing and I felt I could appreciate the darker film look rendered by Warner with VC-1 with the 2 hour feature filling almost 35 Gig of the dual-layered disc. The bitrate can fluctuate quite dramatically but lies in and around the mid 20's (Mbps). As Henrik states about the aspect ratio: "There are several different framings of “North by Northwest”. The MGM laserdisc had the AR of 1.66:1, the Criterion had 1.75:1, the DVD( and Blu-ray) is in 1.78:1. “North by Northwest” was shot in VistaVision, basic aspect ratio of 1.66:1, but it was the property of MGM, who framed their widescreen releases into 1.75:1. This was before 1.85:1 became a standard widescreen format and when each studio had their own unique widescreen format. One can thus think of the 1.66:1 VistaVision ratio as open matte, while the MGM ratio of 1.75:1 was the Original Theatrical Aspect Ratio. It remains to be said, that during the 60s, re-releases of “North by Northwest” was reformatted into 1.85:1, as this format became the standard. Please note, that this is my guess, in order to answer for the various aspect ratios."

Audio: Firstly, the Bernard Herrmann score sounds wonderfully crisp in TrueHD and you can isolate it in standard 5.1 as well. The 5.1 lossless track is transferred at 1326 kbps and I have no complaints at all. It may not be as robust as a modern mix but it just sounds so good with an intense bass depth as Herrmann's score comes pounding through in some of the more iconic sequences. There are a host of foreign language DUBs and subtitle options signifying this region FREE Blu-ray, aside from the packaging, as the only, and international, release of the film in 1080P.

Extras: We get the same competent Ernest Lehman Audio Commentary and 40-minute "Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest" but there are three new, featurettes - two of which are quite lengthy. "The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style" is a new 2009 documentary by Gary Leva. It runs almost an hour. It has input from William Friedkin, Curtis Hanson, Martin Scorsese and Guillermo del Toro discussing The Master's filmic style. It's quite interesting. "North by Northwest: One for the Ages" is another new Gary Leva documentary from 2009 running 30 minutes. "Cary Grant: A Class Apart" is Robert Trachtenberg's 2004 documentary running almost 1.5 hours. It covers a ton of the enigmatic actor's life on and away from the screen with sound bytes from Jeanine Basinger, Peter Bogdanovich, past wives Barbara Harris and Betsy Drake plus many others. One can access the aforementioned 'Music Only' Audio track and there is a Stills gallery some Theatrical trailers, a guided tour with Alfred Hitchcock, and TV Spot. The case is a Digi-book with 44-pages of beautiful colors photos, essays and bio information. It's is really quite special - one of the best of these I have seen.

I expect we will be making further comments but I'd like to 'live' with this, much anticipated, Blu-ray for a while before making more judgments. Personally, I LOVE the darker appearance, the audio and the extensive supplements. I was unsure of what I was expecting but this surely equals my wide-eyed anticipation. I'm sure most Hitch fans will be absolutely thrilled with the presentation, extras and packaging.

Gary Tooze

****

ON THE DVDs: This is a stunning DVD. The picture is crisp, sharp and has saturated balanced colors. Every detail is clear and the soft focus scenes are smooth. It has never looked better.

Except for the framing (see below), there are minute differences. In the cornfield scenes the R2 is slightly more blue than the R1. Likewise elsewhere involving solid colors, the R2 is more vivid, as well as being lesser "grainy". While both look amazing, the R2 is a notch better.

The sound has been updated from mono to 5.1 Dolby Digital. While purists would prefer the presence of the original mono track, the 5.1 DD supports the film very well, without being intrusive, and as its very center speaker sound to begin with, it really only makes the viewing experience better.

The additional material is superb. Starting out with an audio commentary by writer Ernest Lehman, he shares valuable insight knowledge. However, this is not a full frontal historical commentary and there are long pauses. Following comes a very well produced 40 minutes documentary about the production. Rounding up comes three trailers. An added bonus is the isolated score by Herrmann.

One could wish that Warner had gotten permission to use the story boards and the Hitchcock interview, which are to be found on the Criterion Laser, as these are very valuable and insightful.

About the Original Aspect Ratio:
There are several different framings of “North by Northwest”. The MGM laserdisc had the AR of 1.66:1, the Criterion had 1.75:1, the DVD is in 1.78:1.

“North by Northwest” was shot in VistaVision, basic aspect ratio of 1.66:1, but it was the property of MGM, who framed their widescreen releases into 1.75:1. This was before 1.85:1 became a standard widescreen format and when each studio had their own unique widescreen format. One can thus think of the 1.66:1 VistaVision ratio as open matte, while the MGM ratio of 1.75:1 was the Original Theatrical Aspect Ratio. It remains to be said, that during the 60s, re-releases of “North by Northwest” was reformatted into 1.85:1, as this format became the standard. Please note, that this is my guess, in order to answer for the various aspect ratios.

About the DVD Aspect Ratio:
While both the R1 and the R2 DVD have the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16x9), they are not the same.

Using the 800px frame as base, the R2 DVD has 5px black space on the left side, where the R1 has none, but is missing about 10px of frame material, visible on the R2. Additional, the R1 has two distinct green miscolorations running along the left side, both approx. 10px wide. On the top, the R1 is missing 5px of frame material, visible on the R2. This suggests, that the R2 image is the OAR of 1.75:1 stretched to fit the 1.78:1 frame, while the R1 image is cropped (or scanned) down to 1.78:1.

* The DVD of "North by Northwest" in "The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection" is the 04/08/2000 R1 edition.

 - Henrik Sylow

 


DVD Menus
- Same form Both editions!
 

 

 

Blu-ray (same for both Blu-rays) Extras

 

 

Universal Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner and Universal (Masterpiece) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner and Universal (Masterpiece) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner and Universal (Masterpiece) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner and Universal (Masterpiece) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner and Universal (Masterpiece) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Warner Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Home Entertainment (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Warner and Universal (Masterpiece) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

DVD Box Covers

  

The DVD also comes in The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection which includes - Strangers on a Train Two-Disc Edition / North by Northwest / Dial M for Murder / Foreign Correspondent / Suspicion / The Wrong Man / Stage Fright / I Confess / Mr. and Mrs. Smith

          

Distribution

Warner Home Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Warner Home Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Warner Home Entertainment
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...