Movie fans get a nice birthday present with Warner Home Video's 50th anniversary remastering of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece 'North by Northwest,' and Sony packages five 1950s noir thrillers in 'Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume 1.' Get the scoop on these and more Blu-ray and special edition DVD releases for Nov. 3. strong>'North by Northwest'
Why the Re-Release? Warner Home Video is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the greatest of all Hitchcock films with this retooled edition sporting a meticulous restoration and remastering: The folks at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging scanned the original VistaVision production elements in 8K resolution and produced outstanding DVD and Blu-ray versions.

New Special Features: "The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style" is a featurette that consists of interviews, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage that examines the unmistakable Hitchcock style; 'North by Northwest: One for the Ages' features Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, Curtis Hanson and Francis Lawrence sharing their interpretations on the film's importance and its influence on their own work; and a career profile of Cary Grant: 'Cary Grant: A Class Apart.' The Blu-ray comes packed as a DigiBook, with 44 pages of photos, film facts and "insider information."

Is It Worth Upgrading? Warners is at the forefront of film restoration and this remastering is just exquisite. The new featurettes alone are worth the price of admission. The Blu-ray edition is a must, of course; Hitchcock aficionados with earlier DVD versions will want to upgrade for the improved sound and image quality.

Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics: Volume 1
What's the Deal? This five-disc set from Sony brings together five restored and digitally re-mastered Film Noir classics from the 1950s: Edward Dmytryk's 'The Sniper' (1952), one of the earliest studies of a murderous psychopath who kills randomly and without motive, filmed in San Francisco; 'The Big Heat' (1953), Fritz Lang's policier that stars Glenn Ford as a loving husband and father driven by grief to conduct a relentless vendetta against mobster Alexander Scourby and his brutal henchman, Lee Marvin (featuring the famous disfiguring of Gloria Grahame's face by a cup of hot coffee); '5 Against the House' (1955), a thriller about a quartet of Korean war vets -- aided by a sizzling Kim Novak -- who plan a "perfect" crime -- robbing a casino in Reno, Nevada; 'Murder by Contract' (1958), starring Vince Edwards as a hired assassin whose latest "assignment" is about to testify against the mob; and Don Siegel's 'The Lineup' (1958), a double narrative that follows two criminals involved in a dope smuggling scheme and the police who follow their trail of violence and death across San Francisco.

Noteworthy Special Features: Commentary by authors Eddie Muller and James Ellroy on 'The Lineup,' commentary by author Eddie Muller on 'The Sniper,' five featurettes: 'Martin Scorsese on Murder by Contract,' 'Martin Scorsese on The Sniper,' 'Martin Scorsese on The Big Heat,' 'Michael Mann on The Big Heat' and 'The Influence of Noir With Christopher Nolan.'

Is It Collection Worthy? 'The Sniper' and '5 Against the House' make their DVD debut here; previous versions of 'Murder by Contract' and 'The Lineup' have only appeared in "public domain" anthologies. All five films get a nice makeover from Sony as part of their collaboration with Martin Scorsese's non-profit film preservation organization The Film Foundation. These are all classic thrillers and should be in every film buff's collection.

Also Notable:

'March of the Penguins' Limited Edition Giftset features the 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary packed in a gift box with a new documentary, "On the Wings of a Penguin," a plush African penguin toy and postcards; from Warner.

'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' Ultimate Collector's Edition includes the 1989 comedy packed in a collectibles gift tin with a replica of Clark Griswold's holiday Santa hat, a set of holiday themed drink coasters with memorable quotes from the film, a box of faux snow, and an "I survived a Griswold Family Christmas" button; from Warner.

'Forrest Gump' Box of Chocolates features a special edition of the 1994 film packaged in a "chocolate box" with chocolate scent, a commemorative booklet and a replica "Forrest Gump" feather bookmark, from Paramount

'Say Anything' 20th Anniversary Edition (1989), Cameron Crowe's first directorial outing and a gem of a romantic comedy about two high school grads who embark on an improbable relationship, starring John Cusack (in one of his best roles), Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor, Joan Cusack and Jeremy Piven, with such bonus features as "A Conversation With Cameron Crowe" featurette, "I Love Say Anything ...! featurette, intro and commentary by Crowe, John Cusack and Skye; alternate, deleted and extended scenes, and more; from Fox
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