From an audio standpoint, the collection is far more consistent. An impressively immersive 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix accompanies North by Northwest. Psycho already had a DTS-HD MA mix on its standalone Blu-ray and, while not as striking as the mix on Northwest, it’s effective. The only new surround mix is a very strong 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack for Vertigo. It makes the most of Bernard Herrmann’s classic score and also makes good use of the rear speakers.
All of the rest of the films are presented in DTS-HD 2.0 mono. Without any significant exceptions, these are clean tracks that feature clear, intelligible dialogue and a good balance of music and effects. On the negative end of the spectrum, Rope has some volume inconsistencies (and a few moments where ambiance seems to disappear, possibly a part of the original sound design). But for the most part, these mono soundtracks are perfectly acceptable and don’t have any problems such as distortion, clicks, or pops.
Special features are, with one minor exception, all carried over from the standard DVD releases. The one new Blu-ray exclusive is a 14-minute featurette on The Birds called “Hitchock’s Monster Movie.” It’s kind of a cool piece that puts the film in context with the horror films that came before, but it’s also little more than an advertisement for other Universal monster movies. Each film in the set has, at the very least, a previously available featurette (usually about a half hour, but sometimes considerably longer), still gallery, and trailer. Much longer pieces, with a variety of additional shorter features, are included on Northwest, Psycho, Rear Window, and The Birds.
There are a few analytical commentaries (including one from a 2008 DVD by director William Friedkin on Vertigo) and a few neat little bonuses, like alternate endings for Topaz and unreleased score segments by Bernard Herrmann on Torn Curtain (who was replaced by John Addison). All in all, there is a lot of informative stuff here that is of great interest, especially to those who haven’t seen it before. But along with the sometimes shoddy transfers, the lack of brand new features shows Universal wasn’t trying too hard with this set.
In closing, I feel I need to make mention of the packaging. Housed inside a sturdy box is a “book” in which each “page” is a sleeve that holds one disc. While attractive to look at, I question whether the binding of this book will hold up over time. As for the sleeves, I’ve already transferred each of the 15 discs into individual spare cases. Those who dislike sliding discs in and out of sleeves (these are not too tight, at least) will want to do the same in order to avoid scuffing. For such an expensive set, it’s too bad Universal didn’t think these movies were worth plastic cases.