Rear Window appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. I felt largely pleased with this presentation.
Sharpness presented a well-focused and accurate image. The use of opticals and some glamour photography led to a little softness, but those instances reflected the source and created no issues, as this became an accurate transfer.
I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edges haloes remained absent. Grain felt natural, and source flaws seemed minor. I saw a handful of small white specks but nothing prominent.
Colors offered a warm, earthy feel that translated well. The hues represented the design choices and appeared rich and full. The disc’s HDR added a bit of impact to the tones as well.
Blacks looked deep and dense, while shadows showed nice smoothness and clarity. HDR contributed nice impact to whites and contrast. Outside of the occasional print issues, I thought this became a terrific image.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it held up well after 66 years. Speech seemed solid, as the lines were relatively natural given their age. Effects were a little thin, but these seemed typical of the period and presented no significant problems.
Music was appropriately distant. Since almost none of this took the form of a proper score, music really acted like another effect, and these parts sounded accurately thin and detached. Ultimately, the soundtrack seemed more than adequate for its age and ambitions.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the prior Blu-ray? Audio remained identical, as both discs sported the same mono mix.
Visuals became a different matter, as the 4K UHD boasted improved sharpness, colors and blacks. While the BD looked fine, the 4K UHD delivered an obvious upgrade.
As we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film historian John Fawell. He provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at cinematic techniques, the complex set, cast and performances, themes and interpretation, music and story.
How much you like this commentary will depend on what you want from it. If you desire good introspection about the story and characters along with plenty of themes and interpretation, then you’ll enjoy the track. If you want concrete information about the flick, you’ll not go home happy.
Honestly, I’d have preferred more details about the movie’s creation, especially since Fawell’s effort sags at times and the piece suffers from too much dead air. He does give us some nice insights, but I’d like better balance between interpretation and information.
Next comes a documentary called Rear Window Ethics. This 55-minute, 10-second program provides modern interviews with filmmakers Curtis Hanson and Peter Bogdanovich, author Robin Wood, Hitchcock’s daughter Pat, Paramount publicity director Herb Steinberg, assistant director Herbert Coleman, actor Georgine Darcy, and restoration supervisors Robert Harris and James Katz.
Their statements are interspersed with film clips and photos from the set, and we also hear a few sound bites from an old Bogdanovich interview with Hitchcock.
All in all, this is a solid look at the creation of the film. We find a lot of good information about the production and the various participants, and we also learn about the history of the restoration.
The “before and after” shots shown are questionable as the two mainly look different based on brightness, but I still enjoyed this view of the classic film and its legacy.
A Conversation With Screenwriter John Michael Hayes offers exactly what the title states: an interview with the writer of the script. This 13-minute, 10-second piece uses the same format found during “Ethics”: an interview combined with film clips and production photos. The only difference is that we only find one participant: Hayes.
I’d assume that he gets his own featurette because his material is so good it deserved to stand on its own rather than get mixed in with the others. We get a terrific discussion of the history of the film plus a lot of great anecdotes about working with Hitchcock and the others. It’s a solid little piece that added a lot to my appreciation of the movie.
Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master goes for 25 minutes, 12 seconds and features Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto, film critic David Sterritt, and filmmakers Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, John Carpenter, Randy Thom, Guillermo del Toro, Gary Rydstrom, Bill Pankow, Craig McKay, Mark Goldblatt, Eli Roth, and Joe Carnahan.
“Eyes” looks at all the visual techniques Hitchcock used throughout his movies. The various filmmakers and others offer a fine appreciation for the work. We get a very nice dissection of the different methods and learn a lot about how Hitchcock worked his magic.
Next we locate the 23-minute, 31-second Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock. It provides notes from Goldblatt, Friedkin, Sterritt, Thom, Rydstrom, Pankow, Hitchcock’s Music author Jack Sullivan, and filmmaker Mark Stoechinger.
As implied by the title, “Barriers” offers an auditory counterpoint to “Eyes”. It digs into Hitchcock’s use of sound and music throughout his flicks. The program creates a nice complement to “Eyes” and works equally as well.
Masters of Cinema delivers a 33-minute, 38-second 1972 TV program. We see Hitchcock interviewed (separately) by Ingrid Bergman’s daughter Pia Lindstrom and film historian William K. Everson.
Hitchcock chats about why he likes to make scary movies, working with actors, themes in his films, aspects of his early career, and some other thoughts connected to his work. Hitchcock was always a delightful, insightful subject, and this turns into an enjoyable program.
For a chat between legendary directors, we go to the 16-minute, 14-second Hitchcock/Truffaut. This provides an audio excerpt of Francois Truffaut’s extensive 1962 interviews with Hitchcock.
They discuss the adaptation of the short story, aspects of how Hitchcock tells the tale visually, characters and their behavior, and a few other elements of the production.
Due to all the translation time, these Truffaut interviews tend to move slowly, and they’re not always packed with insight. Still, it’s great to hear from Hitchcock himself instead of from surrogates, and there’s enough good material to make the chat worth a listen.
Some Production Photographs appear in a separate section. These stills are presented as a running video montage.
Backed by Franz Waxman’s score, the images mix advertisements with shots from the set, and the entire package lasts three minutes, seven seconds. I like the video presentation and think this program offers a nice compendium of pictures.
We conclude with two trailers. Though billed as the film’s “theatrical trailer”, the first accompanied a re-issue alongside Psycho.
The second trailer acknowledges it came with a re-release. At six minutes, 14 seconds, it runs longer than most, and narrated by James Stewart, it touts five Hitchcock movies, not just Window. Stewart’s presence makes it interesting.
1954’s Rear Window stands with the best of Alfred Hitchcock’s material. The film moves at a slow but compelling pace and uses simple methods to ensnare the viewer. The 4K UHD offers positive picture and audio along with a good collection of supplements. This became a pleasing version of an engaging film.
Note that as of September 2020, this 4K UHD version of Rear Window appears only as part of the four-film “Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection”. It also includes 4K UHD versions of Psycho, Vertigo and The Birds.
To rate this film, visit the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection review of REAR WINDOW