Tony Lee Moral talks about his book “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie”

A filmmaker himself, author Tony Lee Moral is best known for his books about the legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock. In 2002 he released “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Marnie'” and followed it up a decade later with “The Making of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds'” His next book is also about the master of suspense, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass.”

With the growing popularity of Alfred Hitchcock, 33 years after his death, Mr. Moral has released a revised edition of his first book. He recently took the time to answer some questions about the influence and genius of Alfred Hitchcock.

Mike Smith: You’ve written three books on Alfred Hitchcock. What is it about him as a filmmaker that makes him your favorite subject?
Tony Lee Moral: Hitchcock for me is the definitive film maker, and his career and films span the history of cinema. His films have been a huge part of my life, ever since I saw my first Hitchcock film (I Confess) at the age of 10. I took part in the 1999 Alfred Hitchcock Centennial celebrations and have interviewed many scriptwriters, producers, actors who worked with Hitch. The more I watch his films, the more I become fascinated by the man behind the camera, as there is so much to learn from his life.

MS: Why do you think that, more than three decades after his passing, people are still interested in his films?
TLM: I think Hitchcock was a great storyteller and that will never go out of fashion. He was a master entertainer who put the audience first and always wanted to take them on a roller coaster ride. “Psycho” is probably the best example of that, as watching it is like a trip to the Horror-Fun House.

MS: Do you have a favorite Hitchcock film?
TLM: That is very difficult to choose, I’d say “Marnie” because of the characters and psychology. “Vertigo” is a very close second. And after that I’d choose “North by Northwest” or “The Birds.”

MS: As a filmmaker yourself, have you ever caught yourself intentionally cribbing a shot from Hitchcock’s work?
TLM: Absolutely, I’m very influenced by Hitchcock’s film grammar, from Long Shots to Big Close Ups for emotional impact. For my “Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass” book, I really studied his use of film and my respect for him as a master film maker deepens. He was a true director who understood the medium of cinema and was a great teacher who influenced many other directors.

MS: What did you think of the film “Hitchcock?” Did you think Anthony Hopkins captured Mr. Hitchcock’s aura?
TLM: I liked it, but have only seen it once in the cinema, which isn’t a good sign. I thought it was light hearted and not mean spirited. I admire Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as actors, but there were dramatic licenses taken in the film which I didn’t agree with. Overall, if it brought Hitchcock to a new, fresh young audience then that’s a good thing.

MS: What is your next project (either written or film)?
TLM: My next project, which I’m currently writing, is a book about Alfred Hitchcock’s reputation, especially since his death and the recent biographies that have followed it. It’s going to be very revealing and I’m really digging deep for this one, though it won’t be published for several years. I’m speaking to people who haven’t spoken out before about Hitchcock, and I’m hoping that this book will change the way we view Hitchcock and his movies in years to come.

Book Review “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie – Revised Edition”

Written by: Tony Lee Moral
Hardcover: 283 pages
Release date: 2013
Rowman and Littlefield

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

It has been more than three decades since the great director Alfred Hitchcock died (April 29, 1980 to be precise). In that time his legend has grown to almost mythic status. Last year the master filmmaker was the subject of not one but two films: HBO’s “The Girl” and the feature film “Hitchcock,” which centered around the director, played by Anthony Hopkins, during the filming of “Psycho.” In 2002 author Tony Lee Moral released a book dealing with the director and his project after “The Birds,” the psychological thriller “Marnie.” This year Mr. Moral released a revised edition of the book and it is among the most in-depth and interesting “behind the scenes” books ever.

After the double-barreled success of “Psycho” and “The Birds,” Hitchcock set his sights on Winston Graham’s upcoming novel, “Marnie.” He envisioned it as a comeback vehicle for Grace Kelly, who had retired a few years earlier after marrying Prince Ranier of Monaco. However, the publicity surrounding Kelly’s comeback, plus the disapproval of the people of Monaco that their Princess would be playing such a character (Marnie is a thief) resulted in Kelly leaving the project.

In the fall of 1961, while watching “The Today Show” on television one morning, Hitchcock spotted a pretty blonde in a commercial for “Sego” and asked to meet with her. That actress was Tippi Hedren, who Hitchcock soon signed to a contract and cast in “The Birds.” Hitchcock often compared Hedren to Kelly in interviews and when Kelly became unavailable he offered the lead in “Marnie” to her. The rest is film history.

“Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Marnie'” is packed with the kind of inside information that film fans love. From the studios’ reservations about casting Sean Connery, who they were only familiar with from his appearances as James Bond to tidbits of Hitchcock’s directing shorthand (to add drama to a moment Hitchcock would tell his actors to give him “Dogs Feet” – – – Pawses (Pauses). It is inside info like this that gives the book life, so much so that you feel you are personally involved in the production.

An entertaining read from start to finish, I highly recommend “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Marnie'” to any film fan curious in the art of motion picture making.

Tippi Hedren reflects on working with Alfred Hitchcock and the 50th Anniversary of “The Birds”

Tippi Hedren is known best for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films, “The Birds” and “Marnie”. This year “The Birds” is celebrating its 50th anniversary, yet the film is as popular as ever and still very relevant. Besides acting, Tippi also works with animal rescue at the Shambala Preserve, which is a 73-acre wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Tippi about working with Hitchcock, his films and her work on the Shambala Preserve.

Mike Gencarelli: With “The Birds” celebrating its 50th anniversary, what is your most memorable experience with this film?
Tippi Hedren: There were so many of them, since it was such an overwhelming experience for me. “The Birds” was my first film. So not only having Alfred Hitchcock discover me in a commercial that I had done, but he took me under his wing – you might say. He put me under contract before I had even met him just based on my commercial and photo work. It was a very exciting time for me.

MG: Can you reflect on the film with about today’s audience and why the film is still relevant?
TH: “The Birds” really seems to have a life of its own. So many people are really enchanted with it. The fact that this film was even able to have been done is amazing. Year after year, the film gets introduced to a younger generation. When you watch it with the audience of today, when you see the telephones 50 years ago they start laughing. It is interesting for me. But on the other hand the film holds up so well. Fortunately Hitchcock always had his leading women dressing in very traditional clothes. I could wear that green suit right now and be perfectly in style, which I actually still have six of them today.

MG: I recently saw the HBO film “The Girl”, which was based on the making of “The Birds”; how accurate was the film to what happened?
TH: Yes the film was totally accurate. In fact, the writer Gwyneth Hughes came out to my Shambala Preserve, where I live and she spent an afternoon with me talking about my years with Hitchcock. So, yeah the film is absolutely accurate. Also at the time that she was writing she would also call me and discuss any issues or concerns.

MG: What are your feelings on seeing Sienna Miller playing yourself in the film?
TH: I thought she was wonderful. Sienna also came out to the preserve and I got to spend an afternoon with her as well. She called me several times during the filming, which was done in South America. There was a close comradery between all of us.

MG: In the final attack scene of the film; how many times did you have to shoot that?
TH: When I opened the door to that room and all those birds came flying at me and I was under attack for a full week from Monday to Friday. It was unbelievable and also very exhausting.

MG: How would you compare Hitchcock’s style to other director’s you’ve worked it?
TH: The thing that impressed me so much was that he was always so well prepared. He literally worked 9-5pm. At 5 o’clock, we had the martini shots…every day. Most directors will go into very late at night or tremendously long hours, which is actually the norm. With Hitchcock, he always kept to a schedule. That was pretty amazing.

MG: How did the production of “The Birds” and “Marnie” compare?
TH: They are two entirely different films. In “The Birds” you have the added problem of working with live animals, which is always a difficult situation. They do not care about being in a movie. So there is a great deal of difference. I loved doing “Marnie” since it was such a psychological piece and entirely different.

MG: My site partner told me that if I didn’t ask you about working with Sean Connery that he will quit, so tell us about working with him in “Marnie”?
TH: I was very fortunate having Rod Taylor as my leading man in “The Birds”. I was working with all  consummate actors including Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette. They were all great. So, it was kind of a surprise for me when they told me I was going to play Marnie. I play a compulsive thief that is so frigid that she screams every time a man comes near her. So when I was asked who would be playing Mark Rutland in the film, Hitchcock told me that it would be Sean Connery. I said “Sean Connery? The Sean Connery that just got out of ‘Dr. No’? Sean Connery, who could melt the iciest of blondes? Mr. Hitchcock, do you remember that Marnie is so frigid that she screams everything a man comes near her? How am I supposed to handle that?” He simply told me “It’s called acting my dear”. And that was the end of that [laughs].

MG: How was it being the topic of the season and guest starring on the season finale of “Cougar Town”?
TH: It was great fun. It was such a short piece. The whole season was about how can they find Tippi Hedren, so then at the very end is when I appeared. I wish it would have been a little longer but it was still a lot of fun.

MG: Tell us about the inspiration behind the film “Roar”?
TH: Well it goes back to 41 years ago when I started rescuing lions and tigers. I had just done two films in Africa. During those years, environmentalists all over the world were saying that if we didn’t do anything right then, which was 1969-70, to save the animals in the wild then by the year 2000 they would be gone. So my then husband (Noel Marshall) and I decided to do a film about the animals in the wild. We choose the great cat, because people are either enchanted with them, scared to death of them or think they should be admired from afar. We had seen an abandoned house while on a photo Safari in Mozambique. The owner had moved out since it flooded during the rainy season. So when he moved out a tide of lions moved in. It was the largest pride in all of Africa. We couldn’t count me but there was somewhere between 25-30 lions of all sizes that were living in this house. We thought that this was incredible. They were sitting in the windows looking like great portraits. There were going in and out of the doors. They were napping on the verandas. So we decided to use these animals as our stars. We then went back to California and got the script written. When we gave the script to the trainers of these Hollywood animals and they all came back to us laughing that this film could not be made. They told me to get my own animals for the movie. All of the sudden I had little lions and cubs all over my house. It was quite an experience and we learned right then and there that they are definitely not pets.

MG: Tell us about continued your work today with the Shambala Preserve?
TH: The preserve is 73-acres and it is very beautiful. We keep the animals that we rescue for the remainder of their lives. We give them huge areas in which to life, many of which are over an acre. It is so expensive though. I have to raise over a million dollars a year, which is quite difficult. I would appreciate if your readers can visit our website, http://www.shambala.org/ and see what we have to do in order to keep this going each year. I am doing everything I can and any help is appreciated since this place is so beautiful and necessary. I am also working on federal bill which will be introduced this month, which will stop the breeding of lions and tigers to be sold as a pets. So please look that up as well.

Blu-ray Review "Hitchcock"

Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston
Directors: Sacha Gervasi
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first saw Anthony Hopkins in make-up for the role of Alfred Hitchcock, I was blown away.  Kudos to my buddy Greg Nicotero and his team at KNB EFX on that wonderful make-up job (snubbed for the Oscars BTW).  I have always been a fan of the mysteriousness of Alfred Hitchcock.  “Psycho” is one of my favorite films of all-time.  I was thrilled to see the story behind the making of it. I know this film may not be 100% correct with the facts but it is very entertaining and packs some very impressive cast performances. The film is well-paced running just over 90 minutes but I was literally enjoying every second of it.  I loved Helen Mirren in it and in fact, Media Mikes awarded her with our Best Actress of 2012 award.  All around witty, interesting and just fun to be had here. Recommend to check this out.

Official Premise: Oscar® winners Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren* are spellbinding in this provocative story about the making of one of cinema’s most iconic films. Plagued by both a reckless ego and nagging self-doubt, Hollywood legend Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins) becomes obsessed with a grisly murder story that the studios won’t back. Determined, he risks his reputation, his home and even the love of his wife Alma (Mirren), as he sets out to make the film. Ultimately, Hitch wins Alma over, and the two collaborate to create an enduring masterpiece – Psycho.

Fox is delivering this released as a combo pack with the Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc and also a digital copy of the film. The 1080p transfer for the Blu-ray looks great.  There are no noticeable flaws or issues that I was able to pick out. The colors are sharp and the picture quality is super clear. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track is also fantastic.  It works perfectly with the dialogue, which this film is quite driven by. It also works great with Danny Elfman’s score for the film.  Danny delivers a fun and very unique score, which is much different that we are used to for him.

The special features are very impressive for this release and come jam-packed.  First, there is a feature “Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock”, which showcased the transforming of Hopkins into character. “Obsessed with Hitchcock” and “Remembering Hitchcock” look into the phenomon behind the man. “Sacha Gervasi’s Behind the Scenes Cell Phone Footage” is fun to watch but remember it was shot on a cell phone. Speaking of cellphones’ “Hitchcock Cell Phone PSA” is included which aired in theaters prior to the films release. Next, there are three featurettes focusing on the the film’s story, the cast and the score with “Danny Elfman Maestro”, all three are great.  There is also a piece of “Hitch and Alma” from the film, as well as a deleted scene included.  Almost forgot that there is a decent audio commentary track with director Sacha Gervasi and Stephen Rebello, author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”, which is information packed.  Wrapping up these extras is a theatrical trailer.

Film Review “Hitchcock”

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Sacha Gervasi
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 38 mins
Fox Searchlight

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

More than three decades after his death, director Alfred Hitchcock is still referred to as “The Master of Suspense.” And rightfully so. Films like “Rebecca,” “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest” were wildly successful. Yet, even with that track record, it took every resource he could find to make his most famous film, “Psycho.” But he turned the production into a labor of love, both on screen and behind it.

Any film that includes conversations between one of films greatest directors and killer Ed Gein can best be described as tongue in cheek. And that is the tone director Gervasi sets in “Hitchcock.” Gein, whose horrible crimes were not only the basis for Robert Bloch’s novel “Psycho” but the characters of Leatherface in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs.” Incidentally, I didn’t call Gein a serial killer because, even though he killed several people, to save money he was only tried for one murder. And apparently you have to be convicted of at least three murders to be called a “serial” killer. Who knew?

“Hitchcock” finds the great director gaining a new generation of fans through his weekly television program. However, he feels “cheapened” by television and looks for his next great film. Coming across Bloch’s book he becomes fascinated with the subject matter and, despite the protests of the big shots at Paramount, decides to make a movie. Behind the scenes is his long time adoring wife, Alma (Mirren), who was in fact a fine filmmaker before she and “Hitch” met.

Hopkins does a good job imitating the voice and cadence of the great director, however sometimes his makeup makes him look more like Bob Newhart then Hitchcock. As Alma Mirren is strong and decisive. “Psycho” is as much her film as it is Hitchcock’s and the film stresses that point. Johansson and James D’Arcy are well cast as “Psycho” stars Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins while in a quick cameo Ralph Macchio plays screenwriter Joseph Stefano, hired by Hitchcock because he had issues dealing with sex, rage and his mother!

Production values are fine, giving the film a nice period feel. The film is also a nice look back at the early days of Hollywood, when the fact that Hitchcock wanted to show a toilet on screen was deemed shocking.

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Directed by: Sacha Gervasi
Screenplay by: John J. McLaughlin
Based on the book: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello
Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollock, Joe Medjuck, Tom Thayer, Alan Barnette
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, James D’Arcy, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow, Kurtwood Smith

HITCHCOCK is a love story about one of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife and partner Alma Reville. The film takes place during the making of Hitchcock’s seminal movie Psycho.

Blu-ray Review “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection”

Starring: James Stewart, John Forsythe, Bruce Dern, Tippi Hedren, Karen Black, Priscilla Lane
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Format: Limited Edition
Number of discs: 15
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Run Time: 1759 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Man, when Universal says it is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary, they aren’t messing around. Earlier this month they released the stunning “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection”. and now this release even tops that. This ultimate box set is jam-packed with 15 classic Hitchcock films including 13 that have never been released on Blu-Ray. “Psycho”‘ and “North by Northwest” are the only films in this set that have released previously. The 15 films are included in this “Masterpiece Collection” that span over three decades from 1942-1976 including “Psycho”, “The Birds”, “Vertigo”, “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, “Marnie”, “Saboteur”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Rope”, “The Trouble with Harry”, “Torn Curtain”, “Topaz”, “Frenzy” and “Family Plot”.

These films feature some of the best talent and performances that Hollywood has to offer, including James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Julie Andrews, Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Tippi Hedren, Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, John Forsythe, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Priscilla Lane and even Sean Connery. If 15 amazing Hitchcock films in high definition isn’t enough this release also includes over 15 hours of bonus features including a newly produced documentary for “The Birds”. If you could want any more Hitchcock (if that is possible), Warner Home Entertainment has recently released both “Strangers on a Train” and “Dial M for Murder 3D” to Blu-ray. This “Masterpiece Collection” is only set to be available for a limited time only for if you are a fan of Hitchcock, then I would highly recommend not missing this release.

Everyone knows that the legendary Alfred Hitchcock is the “Master of Suspense”.  He has directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and recognizable classics. This release is definitely the definitive collection and it showcases Alfred Hitchcock’s true cinematic talent.  The packaging for this release is similar to “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection”. The 15 discs are packaged inside a really high-quality and sharp flipbook packaging with some amazing glossy images.  It also includes an exclusive 58-page collector’s book, called “The Master of Suspense”, which includes original artwork, trivia, and information about the films.  Besides “Psycho” and “North by Northwest”, which has been treated well on Blu-ray, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements in order to guarantee the ultimate Hitchcock experience.

Here are the premises for the 15 films included: “Saboteur (1942)”: This riveting wartime thriller stars Robert Cummings as a factory worker who is falsely accused of sabotage and sets off on a desperate, action-packed cross-country chase to clear his name. “Shadow of a Doubt (1943)”: This thriller about a young woman (Teresa Wright) who comes to suspect that the uncle (Joseph Cotton) she idolizes may in fact be a murderer was considered Alfred Hitchcock’s personal favorite. “Rope (1948)”: Two friends strangle a classmate and then hold a party for their victim’s family and friends while their former teacher (James Stewart) becomes increasingly suspicious that his students have turned his intellectual theories into brutal reality. “Rear Window (1954)”: James Stewart and Grace Kelly star in this voyeuristic masterpiece about a photographer who becomes obsessed with watching his neighbors and discovers a possible murder. “The Trouble with Harry (1955)”: While no one really minds that Harry is dead, everyone has a different idea about what should be done with his body in this quirky mystery starring Shirley MacLaine and John Forsythe. “The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)”: James Stewart and Doris Day star as a vacationing American couple who accidentally become involved in an international assassination plot and must take matters into their own hands after their son is kidnapped. “Vertigo (1958)”: James Stewart and Kim Novak star in this dizzying web of mistaken identity, passion and murder involving an acrophobic detective and the mysterious blonde he rescues from the San Francisco Bay.

“North by Northwest (1959)”: Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint star in this edge-of-your-seat thriller about an adman who gets plunged into a realm of spy and counterspy and is abducted, framed for murder, chased and crop-dusted. “Psycho (1960)”: Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh star in this shocking classic about an unsuspecting visitor to the Bates Motel who falls prey to one of cinema’s most notorious psychopaths, Norman Bates. “The Birds (1963)”: ‘Tippi’ Hedren and Rod Taylor star in this horrific tale of nature gone berserk when thousands of birds flock into a seaside town and terrorize the residents in a series of deadly attacks. “Marnie (1964)”: ‘Tippi’ Hedren stars as Marnie, a compulsive liar and thief, who winds up marrying the very man (Sean Connery) she attempts to rob in this psychological thriller that races to an inescapable conclusion. “Torn Curtain (1966)”: Paul Newman and Julie Andrews star in this action-packed thriller about a world-famous scientist who goes undercover to get top-secret information and ends up running for his life from enemy agents. “Topaz (1969)”: John Forsythe stars as an American CIA agent who hires a French operative to travel to Cuba and investigate rumors of Russian missiles and a spy codenamed “Topaz”. “Frenzy (1972)”: In this morbid blend of horror and wit, the “Necktie Murderer” has the London Police on red alert and an innocent man (Jon Finch) is on a desperate quest to find the real criminal and clear his own name. “Family Plot (1976)”: Chaos ensues in this suspense-comedy when a phony psychic and her not-so-bright boyfriend cross paths with a slick diamond merchant and his beautiful girlfriend.

On the packaging Universal is pushing the fact that this release included PERFECT video and PERFECT sound and, hot damn, that is not a lie. I would literally call these perfect transfers. Here is the listings of the audio tracks available for each film. “Saboteur”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Rope”, “Rear Window”, “The Trouble with Harry”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, “Marnie”, “Torn Curtain”, “Topaz”, “Frenzy” and “Family Plot” all include a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono tracks. They all sound amazing on Blu-ray and work perfectly for each film. “Vertigo”, “Psycho” and “The Birds” include both a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, as well as a DTS Master-Audio 2.0 Mono. Lastly “North by Northwest” includes the movie impressive with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround track, as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track.

If the amazing collection of 15 years isn’t good enough each film is packed with some really ace special features. “Saboteur (1942)” includes three featurettes including “Saboteur: A Closer Look”, “Storyboards: The Statue of Liberty Sequence” and “Alfred Hitchcock’s Sketches”. There are also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included. “Shadow of a Doubt (1943)” includes two featurettes including “Beyond Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock’s Favorite Film” and “Production Drawings by Art Director Robert Boyle”. There are also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included. “Rope (1948)” includes a featurette called “Rope Unleashed”, as well as Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer. “Rear Window (1954)” comes chock-full of goodies. First there is a commentary track with John Fawell, author of “Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film”. There are a bunch of great featurettes including “Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary”, “A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes”, “Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of The Master”, “Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock”, “Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview Excerpts” and “Masters of Cinema”. There is also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included, as well as a re-release Trailer Narrated by James Stewart. “The Trouble with Harry (1955)” comes with one feature titled “The Trouble with Harry Isn’t Over”. There are also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included. “The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)” includes a behind-the-scenes look into “The Making of The Man Who Knew Too Much”. There is also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included.

The next four films comes with the most impressive extras.  “Vertigo (1958)” comes with two audio commentary tracks with Associate Producer Herbert Coleman, Restoration Team Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz + more and there is also one with director William Friedkin. There are four featurettes including “Obsessed with Vertigo: New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece” and “Partners in Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborators”, “The Vertigo Archives” and “100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era”.  As well as Hitchcock / Truffaut Interview Excerpts and the Foreign Censorship Ending.  Lastly this wraps up with the Theatrical and Restoration Theatrical Trailer. “North by Northwest (1959)” includes a commentary track from screenwriter Ernest Lehman.  As well as four featurettes including “The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style”, “Cary Grant: A Class Apart”, “North by Northwest: One for the Ages” and “Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest”.  I also am a huge fan of the isolated music-only audio track included.  Lastly, there is a stills gallery and theatrical trailers and a TV spot included. “Psycho (1960)” starts off with a commentary track from Stephen Rebello, author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”. There are a bunch of amazing featurettes including “The Making of Psycho”, “Psycho Sound”, “In The Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy” and “The Psycho Archives”. There is also “Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview Excerpts” and “Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho” included.  Fans of “The Shower Scene” will be happy to find it here with and without Music and also in storyboards by Saul Bass. Lastly there are Posters and Psycho Ads, Lobby Cards, Behind-the-Scenes Photographs, Production Photographs and Theatrical and Re-release Trailers included.

“The Birds (1963)” is the only film wiht a newly produced extra, “The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie”. It also includes a rare Deleted Scene and Original Ending.  There is a featurette called “All About The Birds”. There is vintage “Tippi Hedren’s Screen Test” footage, as well as Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview Excerpts. There are two Universal International Newsreels included “The Birds Is Coming” and “Suspense Story: National Press Club Hears Hitchcock”. There are Storyboards, as well as Production Photographs and the theatrical trailer included. Lastly there is “100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics and The Lot”, which are also available on the “Universal Classic Monsters” release. “Marnie (1964)” comes with two featurettes “The Trouble with Marnie” and “The Marnie Archives” and wraps up with the Theatrical Trailer. “Torn Curtain (1966)” has two featurettes “Torn Curtain Rising” and “Scenes Scored by Bernard Herrmann”. There is also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included. “Topaz (1969)” includes Alternate Endings, as well as a featurettes “Topaz: An Appreciation by Film Historian and Critic Leonard Maltin” and “Storyboards: The Mendozas”. There is also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included. “Frenzy (1972)” includes one feature “The Story of Frenzy” and there is also Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included. The last film “Family Plot (1976)” includes two features “Plotting Family Plot” and “Storyboards: The Chase Scene”. There is also Storyboards, Production Photographs and a Theatrical Trailer included.

If you are a Hitchcock fan, I know this release might be a little pricey but it is honestly worth every penny.  The films look not only impressive but like I said perfect.  You may find that the UK also has this release available for cheaper (when converted) but be warned since the UK box does not contain “North By Northwest.” So depends how much that film is worth to you, especially since it has been previously released. I just wait till my daughter (not 5 months old) will get to experience these films with me.  I am going to look forward to spending a lot of time introducing her to the masterpieces of Alfred Hitchcock.

Book Review “Alfred Hitchcock: The Complete Films”

Author: Paul Duncan
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Taschen
Release Date: April 1, 2011

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Mystery is mystifying; it is an intellectual thing. Suspense is an emotional thing.” — Alfred Hitchcock

Who doesn’t love the work of Alfred Hitchcock. He is the master of suspense and will never be forgotten in the world of cinema. Taschen really scored another winner with this release. It is about 200 pages, hardback and yet sells for a very reasonable $10 dollars. It is a real celebration of Hitchcock’s work and covers his complete film history. I think the book could be a little more in depth like Taschen’s “The Stanley Kubrick Archives” but this definitely does the job, especially for its price.

The best part of this book are the pictures and their captions. They are presented in large scale and really sharp presentation. This is not the most in-depth analysis of Hitchcock but it definitely satisfies the basic fan of his work. The book does provide a decent overall of his classic films like “The Birds”, “Vertigo”, “Rear Window” and of course “Psycho”. It ranges not only from his earliest silent films to his last picture in 1976, it also focuses on his life. One of my favorite parts of this books is the list of his cameos, that is always just a fun task while watching his films.

The images in the book are very high quality and if they are in black and white or color, they still are very clear and looks fantastic. I also like the behind-the-scenes look into his films, I have never seen some of these images before and it is a real treat. Hitchcock was such a unique filmmaker with techniques that will never be able to be replicated. For people looking to find out some interesting information of Hitchcock’s career, this would be the book for that. Taschen delivers another hit and I look forward to future topics that they will cover.

Interview with Air Supply’s Russell Hitchcock

Russell Hitchcock is one of the two members of the band “Air Supply”, along with Graham Russell.  The band has been around since 1975 and show no signs of slowing down.  They are currently playing over 100 shows per year and still releasing new music.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Russell about Air Supply’s new album as well as his new solo album.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you tell us about the new album “Mumbo Jumbo” and its creative process?
Russell Hitchcock: As all of our CD’s recently have taken about 2 to 3 years to put together as we spend a lot of time on the road. Generally what we will do is we record for a few days then go on the road for 3 or 4 weeks then back to recording. The album was a long time coming but it’s the first conceptual album of ours. Graham integrated a great story in the songs. The album is about a young guy who is just trying to find himself in the world today. It was time for us to do an album like this. We are always getting asked how we have changed in the last 36 years. It’s obvious that we are a lot older now and we are a lot more mature about the music we play and how we think about life. I think the album is a very mature body of work. It’s nice to be back in the lime light for a little bit of time.

MG: Can you tell us what you felt being back on the billboard charts for the first time in 17 years?
RH: It’s just a great feeling as we had so much resistance from radio basically after 1987. “Mumbo Jumbo” is actually our 24th or 25th studio album. People were always thinking we broke up. The bottom line was in North America we couldn’t get played on the radio. It’s a really great feeling to be recognized again and to be able to say that we have had chart success spanning over four decades.

MG: Air Supply has been together for over 35 years now. What drives you guys to continue recording and touring?
RH: We have a great passion for performing live together. When we first started we made sort of an unofficial pact that as long as we enjoyed working together still and people wanted to see us we would keep going. None of those things have changed other than we know more about the business now and we are way more experienced on stage. We play around 130 shows a year all around the world, which runs us about 9 months out of the year.

MG: Do you see the band slowing down anytime soon?
RH: I hope it keeps going! Physically and mentally we are both in good shape and we are playing with some fantastic musicians. What it really comes down to is the audiences and their response. Our shows are selling out quite regularly and the response to the old songs is phenomenal and we always are playing new songs in the show as well and the responses to those have been great also. We don’t see any reason for us to slow down just yet.

MG: What do you like most about playing the new songs to the audiences?
RH: I think it’s exciting to play something new and something that you have put your heart into. Graham works very hard at writing quality material and we always want the best vocally we can get out of it. To play something new and getting to see the reactions is fantastic. People always seem really into it. We have a great core of material to build on and we also have a very distinctive way of singing together so we are in good shape from the start.

MG: What can you tell us about your new single which hasn’t been released on any album yet?
RH: We are going to do that and we have two songs in mind but we haven’t picked which one its definitely going to be so I don’t want to tell you too much just yet. We just finished the vocals last week and its going to be a nice surprise.

MG: What can you tell us about your new album “Tennessee: The Nashville Sessions”? How do you feel it differs from your work with Air Supply?
RH: It certainly has a Nashville feel to it and that’s obvious from the musicians playing on the album and the instrumentation that was used. I was offered the opportunity a few years a go by a friend to come to Nashville and record. Finding the time was the hardest part. We listened to around 100 songs before picking 24-28. Originally the producer wanted to release a double album and I told him he was out of his mind! I have had some critics ask why I’m in Nashville being I am not a country singer. I have responded by saying I am a singer and just want to sing all kinds of songs. I have had some good response to a few of the songs. We are currently in the early stages of promotion so we will see what happens. I hope to put some of the songs in our set starting next year.