DVD Release Date: November 24, 2009 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 36
Running Time: approx. 15 hours, 30 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English subtitles
Special Features: Fasten Your Seatbelt: The Thrilling Art of Alfred Hitchcock featurette
Murder and suspense are coming to your living room once again with Season Four of Alfred Hitchcock Presents! All 36 episodes of the fourth season of the anthology series hosted by the master of suspense himself are now available on DVD on a four disc set. For those not familiar with the series, it is the anthology series hosted by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock that told a different story of suspense (and often murder) each and every week, like a movie of the week, with different guest stars every week. It featured many guest stars who later went on to bigger and better things as well as some who were finishing up their careers. The stories almost never had a happy ending, and often left the viewer with questions and without a true conclusion at the end of the episode, part of the key to the success to the series.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
In “Don’t Interrupt,” an escaped mental patient is in danger of dying and a young boy can help him, but is told to not talk in exchange for a silver dollar. Will the boy give up the silver dollar to save the mental patient’s life, or will he keep his promise to not interrupt? Cloris Leachman guest stars. In “The Jokester,” a man learns that death is nothing to joke about, and he learns it the hard way. Walter Matthau guest stars in “The Crooked Road,” where a young couple stumbles upon one of the most corrupt rural speed traps in the world. Lloyd Ashley (played by Leslie Nielsen) is found not guilty of murder in “The $2,000,000 Defense,” but when he finds out that his attorney was fooling around with his wife will he face more murder charges? In “Design for Loving,” a man builds an android version of his wife, but the robot wife turns out to have feelings that are just too human: she doesn’t like her husband either. Elizabeth Montgomery plays an unfaithful wife who, as it turns out, is in fact not immortal, in “Man With a Problem.” Art Carney guest stars in “Safety for the Witness.” Hypnosis can be deadly, as we see in the episode “Murder Me Twice.”
William Demarest guest stars in “And the Desert Shall Blossom.” A dead man comes back to life to plan his own funeral, and then promptly dies again, in “Six People, No Music.” Miss Fox (played by Bette Davis) puts an innocent man in jail for a year in “Out There -- Darkness,” but you’d better bet he is going to get the last laugh. A woman decides to engage in an insurance scam in “Total Loss,” but will the fire backfire? A man is engaged to a woman, but also has another woman on the side in “The Last Dark Stop,” so how will he get rid of the mistress? Barbara Bel Geddes plays a woman that wants to meet her mother-in-law in “The Morning of the Bride,” but as it turns out, she is in for a big surprise. If a man is going to inherit everything from his cousin, why not take the money while he is still alive? That is exactly what he does in “Relative Value.” A man has an opportunity to kill his business partner (and wife) in “The Right Price.” A used car lot owner has to choose between his wife and one of his employees in “I’ll Take Care of You,” and goes for a “killer” deal so to speak.
In “The Kind Waitress,” a waitress has been left in the will of one of her customers and decides to see to it that she gets her inheritance as soon as possible. A stingy man wants to get back at his wife for spending his money in “Cheap is Cheap,” but will the $500 to hire a hit man and the $160 to have a funeral be too much for him to spend to kill her? A man makes up a mugging and robbery and goes the whole way when trying to cover up the fact that he lost his entire paycheck in a poker game in “A Night with the Boys.” In “Your Witness,” a woman kills her husband, an attorney, and the only witness is a man that her husband had previously proven to be a less-than-credible witness.
The packaging for this set is virtually identical to the previous sets. In fact, the cover art has not changed a bit on any of these sets. The cover art has a picture of Hitchcock holding a sign with the series title and season and the back of the box has information about the season with the same artwork as all of the other seasons. The only difference is that everything is in a blue color scheme this time. Inside, you’ll find a digipak that holds all four discs, each just having the series title on a blue background (there is no fancy artwork this time). The back of the digipak has episode titles and descriptions listed on it. Each disc contains exactly nine episodes.
Menu Design and Navigation:
In the typical fashion of Universal, the menus have not changed one bit for this set. The main menu has Hitchcock holding a clapboard that has options of Play All, Episode Index, Subtitles, and (on Disc 4) Bonus Feature. The theme song plays in the background of the main menu. When you select the Episode Index option, you get a menu that shows a snapshot from each episode on the disc, and the episode plays once you have selected an episode. Chapters are placed at all of the appropriate places in each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
Just as has been the case with the previous sets, the video and audio on the set is far from perfect and does show age, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad as it has been on the previous sets. The biggest issue would be grain and scratches on virtually every episode, and low audio levels as well as crackling in the audio. Still, the problems are an improvement from the previous sets, and are good enough that it doesn’t seem necessary to make too big of a deal out of it. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, and each episode is subtitled in English for those that require the subtitles.
The episodes all appear to be unedited, running around 25 or 26 minutes per episode. Exact runtimes are as follows:
1. Poison (26:04)
2. Don't Interrupt (25:57)
3. The Jokester (25:44)
4. The Crooked Road (26:13)
5. The $2,000,000 Defense (26:08)
6. Design for Loving (25:45)
7. A Man with a Problem (26:03)
8. Safety for the Witness (25:57)
9. Murder Me Twice (24:54)
10. Tea Time (25:01)
11. And the Desert Shall Blossom (25:06)
12. Mrs. Herman and Mrs. Fenimore (26:04)
13. Six People, No Music (25:04)
14. The Morning After (26:03)
15. A Personal Matter (26:05)
16. Out There - Darkness (26:02)
17. Total Loss (26:07)
18. The Last Dark Step (26:05)
19. The Morning of the Bride (26:03)
20. The Diamond Necklace (26:08)
21. Relative Value (26:04)
22. The RIght Price (25:47)
23. I'll Take Care of You (26:16)
24. The Avon Emeralds (25:41)
25. The Kind Waitress (26:05)
26. Cheap is Cheap (26:06)
27. The Waxwork (26:00)
28. The Impossible Dream (26:07)
29. Banquo's Chair (24:54)
30. A Night with the Boys (26:05)
31. Your Witness (24:33)
32. The Human Interest Story (26:06)
33. The Dusty Drawer (26:04)
34. A True Account (26:05)
35. Touche (25:58)
36. Invitation to an Accident (26:02)
The set advertises one special feature, a brief feature on Disc 4 called “Fasten Your Seatbelt: The Thrilling Art of Alfred Hitchcock,” (6:24) but it turns out to be one of the largest disappointments that I’ve ever seen as far as special features are concerned. It is clear that this wasn’t created exclusively for this DVD set, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it appears on other DVDs of Alfred Hitchcock movies. Basically, it is just an incredibly short piece that talks about the legacy of Hitchcock and his films, and does not provide anything new or insightful. It interviews some rather well-known people in the industry, such as Joe Carnahan, John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, Eli Roth, and Martin Scorsese, and had the potential to be much better than it actually was. Honestly, it feels more like a promotion in disguise than a true featurette about Hitchcock.
The episodes on this set are great, and I feel like the episodes on this set are some of the best ones to be released on DVD to date, but it would be nice if Universal could add some sort of bonus features to these DVDs. Alfred Hitchcock is not just any random person, he is a legend of his genre, and the series is a big part of his legacy. There should be lengthy interviews and maybe even a few commentaries. Original commercials from the episodes would be nice to have. Even though original commercials normally are not included in DVD sets, it would make a lot of sense in this series to explain the way that Hitchcock introduces the sponsor in each episode. Despite the barebones nature of this set, it is basically a decent set. It would be nice if Universal would move faster on these releases, but at least we are up to season 4, with only 3 more seasons of the half-hour version of the series remaining. We’ll just have to wait in suspense while we see if those will be released in decent time, but for now, we have these episodes to enjoy.