Mar 18, 2012

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Criterion Revisits Hitchcock's 39 Steps

I've been waiting for this ever since Criterion revisited their original release of Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes nearly five years ago! This June, finally, they will revisit the master's other essential prewar spy movie, The 39 Steps, with new Blu-ray and DVD editions. At the very least, that one was in dire need of an artwork update, and indeed this new cover is far more stylish and in keeping with the company's current Lady Vanishes disc. But I'd never been entirely satisfied with the transfer on the old 39 Steps, either, and expect big improvements with this Blu-ray's new high-definition digital restoration. In addition to the new transfer, the Blu-ray sports a typically impressive array of new and old supplemental material (all of the features from the previous edition appear to be present and accounted for), including (per the Criterion website) an audio commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane, a 2000 British documentary covering the director's prewar career called Hitchcock: The Early Years, original footage from British broadcaster Mike Scott’s 1966 television interview with Hitchcock, the complete broadcast of the 1937 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, performed by Ida Lupino and Robert Montgomery, original production design drawings, excerpts from François Truffaut’s (deservedly) ubiquitous 1962 audio interview with Hitchcock, and a new "visual essay" by Hitchcock scholar Leonard Leff. I'm actually really looking forward to that one, as Leff's visual essay on The Lady Vanishes (a sort of combination featurette and select scene commentary) proved to be a far more substantial extra than the name would imply. In addition to all that bonus material on the disc, there will also be a booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Cairns. The 39 Steps hits Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion on June 26, retailing for $39.95 and $29.95 respectively. Don't be misled by any of the many public domain versions of this title that are floating around out there; this Criterion edition is definitely the one you want.

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