Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection
Last week, we walked you through the basics of Sir Alfred Hitchcock, a tutorial prompted by the release of this delicious 15-movie Blu-ray box set, featuring several of his masterpieces (Rear Window, The Birds, Vertigo, Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, North by Northwest, etc.), and several underrated treats as well (Marnie, Frenzy, Rope, Saboteur). Plus, it’s loaded up with bonus features — commentaries, featurettes, storyboards, and (our favorite) audio excerpts from the immortal Hitchcock-Truffaut interviews. A couple of the transfers are problematic, but most of the movies look great; this is a treasure for cinephiles.
Any Gun Can Play: The Essential Guide to Euro-Westerns
With Tarantino working his spaghetti Western mojo at the multiplex this holiday season, several publishers are anticipating a curiosity for the genre. This excellent history of the European Westerns of the sixties and seventies should quench that thirst; author Kevin Grant wades deep into the films, directors, and actors behind the genre, and even got the most iconic of them (Django star — and Django Unchained co-star — Franco Nero) to contribute a foreword.
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
Another big box from Universal, this one spotlighting the best of their horror classics, with luminous black-and-white transfers and copious extra goodies. The eight-disc set gives us a gallery of the greatest monsters in movie history: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Creature from the Black Lagoon (in its original 3D), and the greatest of all horror sequels, Bride of Frankenstein.
Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror
Okay, all right, we know — Jason Zinoman’s wickedly entertaining history of horror in the late ’60s and ’70s “New Hollywood” era came out last year. But your film editor didn’t get around to reading it until this year, and there’s a chance (admittedly, a slim one) that your film geek hasn’t made it to this one yet either. If not, it’s a must-have — a page-turning account of how Romero’s Night of the Living Dead re-wrote the rules of low-budget horror, and how John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and their contemporaries created the most memorable and important era in the genre’s history. Highly recommended.
The fact that 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the first James Bond feature film, has not exactly gone unnoticed in the pop culture world — there have been books and specials and articles a-plenty, as well as the mentions in pretty much every glowing review of the new Bond movie Skyfall. But the best way to commemorate Bond’s birthday is this gorgeous anniversary box set, which features all 22 of the (official) Bond movies preceding the latest (and they’ve thoughtfully left a space for you to slide that one into when it hits Blu-ray next year). The transfers are eye-popping, the extras are voluminous, and Amazon’s got the pricey set on super-duper-sale this week.
The James Bond Archives
The Bond Blu-ray set also comes with a cool book of vintage Bond movie posters, but the must-have volume for Bond buffs is this handsome, bulky, 15-pound fetish object, which Paul Duncan assembled from photos, storyboards, documents, designs, production memos, and various other ephemera from the files of EON Productions — along with an oral history by the cast and crew. The price tag is hefty, but Bond freaks will drop their martinis over this one.
Tony Stark T-Shirt
Those clever folks at Think Geek thought up this clever tee for Avengers fans: a shirt that includes a replica of Mr. Stark’s Arc Reactor, which lights up just like Iron Man’s — though, per the sales pitch on their site, it “does not prevent shrapnel from reaching your heart.” Well, for thirty bucks, you can’t have everything.
The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time
The Coen Brothers’ cult favorite is turning 15 next spring, and this is the best of the (shockingly) many book-length investigations of its enduring appeal: a handsome, energetic volume that defly mixes trivia and making-of information, coffee-table design (it’s filled with fan art, charts, and other clever visual elements), and thoughtful analysis of the film and its popularity.
Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
The Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman classic turned 70 this year, and while some of the commemorations were unwelcome (no sequels, please), Warner Brothers did take the opportunity to issue a terrific, goody-packed special edition Blu-ray set. It features the original film in a glorious HD transfer, new documentaries, a DVD version, a lovely hardcover book, a replica of the original poster, and even a set of coasters from Rick’s.
Universal 100th Anniversary Collection
And if you really want to go overboard this holiday season: Universal is celebrating its 100th year of making movies with this big box (MSRP: 350 bucks), featuring 25 of their biggest hits (from Dracula and To Kill a Mockingbird to Jurassic Park and The Bourne Identity), extra bonus features, and an anniversary book. Some of the choices are a little dubious (The Fast and the Furious?), but it’s an impressive totem for the ultimate movie fan.