Guide to Hitchcock on DVD – part 2

Following on from the first part of the guide, here’s the low down on the rest of Hitchcock’s films from the 1920s.
In the US, virtually of the DVD releases of the following films have been lower quality budget “public domain” discs.  Whilst these are a cheap way of getting hold of the films, you’ll probably be disappointed with the video quality.
4) The Ring (1927)
By far the best transfer to date is in the French Les Premières Oeuvres 1927/1929, volume 1 box set from Studio Canal.  For anyone considering this box set, it’s worth noting that the French subtitles (although generated by the DVD player) cannot be easily disabled during playback.
In 2007, there’ll be new DVDs released in the UK (by Optimum Releasing) and in the US (by Lionsgate Home Entertainment) — these should have transfers on par with the French box set.
5) Downhill (1927)
Currently unavailable in the US, “Downhill” has seen a number of good DVD releases (see this page to compare the transfer quality).
If I had to suggest one, then I’d recommend you purchase the German The Early Years box set from Concorde.  Although 3 years old, the set still contains some of the best transfers available.
Completists might want to note that none of the DVD releases of “Downhill” use the original green tinting for the sea-sickness scenes.
6) Champagne (1928)
For many years, “Champagne” was only available on low quality bootlegs — however, 2005 saw two releases on DVD.  Once again, it’s the French release which is the best.
7) Easy Virtue (1928)
“Easy Virtue” has seen numerous DVD releases, but all seem to be taken from the same low quality video source.  According to this 1937 newspaper articles, the British Film Institute may have a good quality print in their archives so there is still hope that we might see a decent quality release in the future.
8) The Farmer’s Wife (1928)
Once again, it’s that French box set from Studio Canal which contains the best transfer.
In 2007, we should see a new DVD in the UK from Optimum Releasing using the same high quality transfer.
9) The Manxman (1929)
In a repeat of the information for “The Ring”, the French box set contains the best transfer currently available, and 2007 releases from Optimum Releasing (UK) and Lionsgate Home Entertainment (USA) should have similar high quality transfers.
10) Blackmail (1929)
Although “Blackmail” is available in a box set from Studio Canal, I’d recommend the German release on the Arthaus label.
The German DVD contains both the “talkie” version of the film and also the the original silent version.  Although very similar, there are interesting differences between the two versions and some might even prefer the more natural performances in the silent version.
The French and German DVDs also contain the amusing “sound test“, shot to check how Anny Ondra‘s voice would sound on film.  Hitchcock takes the opportunity to embarrass Ondra with some good old English innuendo!
To date, the best releases of Hitchcock’s earliest films have been in France and Germany, but 2007 should see similar quality releases of some of the 1920 films in both the USA and the UK.  Fans in the UK should note that “Orbit Media” are planning to release a clutch of early Hitchcock films on DVD in early 2007, but these will be low quality “public domain” transfers — definitely a case of buyer beware!