This set of five titles from the British phase of Alfred Hitchcock's early career serves as an outstanding reflection on the great director's evolving preoccupations and pet themes in the 1930s. The earliest inclusion is the 1930 Murder, starring Herbert Marshall as a famous stage actor who takes it upon himself to investigate a murder for which a young actress has been wrongly convicted. Clever and witty, the film finds Hitch exploring the blurry dualisms of reality and illusion, guilt and innocence, and watching and doing. The 1932 Number 17 is Hitchcock in a particularly playful vein. A bit bored by the "old dark house" Gothic tone of the story, he uses the film as an opportunity to push the limits of camera mobility, the emotional underpinnings of shots, and the sheer fun of using model trains and other vehicles to create climactic chases. In the 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, the director matches a sophisticated tone with a gut-wrenching tale of a child kidnapped by spies. A fascinating study in contrast with Hitch's 1956 edition of the story (the one starring James Stewart and Doris Day), this film highlights both his interest in the burden of secrecy as well as his youthful efforts at visual experimentation. The 1936 Sabotage is a stunning story of a naive woman's revenge-killing of her husband, a German spy, and the subsequent cover-up of her deed both by fate and by a police detective who chooses to keep quiet about her guilt. Finally, the 1936 Secret Agent, starring John Gielgud, Robert Young, Madeleine Carroll, and Peter Lorre in an espionage story of concealed identities and assassination, is dense with ideas about lies and the brutality of the hidden. A few features later, Alfred Hitchcock belonged to Hollywood, and the American cinema took a giant leap forward. But in this boxed set can be seen the blueprint of his genius. The prints of the films used in this set are serviceable and probably comparable to average 16mm classroom or museum presentations. The DVDs also include Hitchcock filmographies, trivia questions, a director biography, and scene access. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.