First the good news--we get a solid transfers of early Hitchcock with some minor and major classics early in his career. Studio Canal has done a nice job with these and while the transfers aren't scratch free, they look quite good given the age of the source material and quite a bit better than some of the earlier releases of public domain sources. This boxed set (once you open it) looks like an old bound copy of a script. The outside has a photo of Hitch (which reminds me of a deathmask)from the Universal archive.
The first two films in the set "The Ring" and "The Manxman" were made the year after the success of "The Lodger" (which would been shelved when studio executives thought it a disaster. Luckily, Michael Balcon stepped in a man who championed Hitch early in his career and the film was a wild success). "Murder!" is an early talkie (sadly the German version isn't included. It would have been nice to see for comparison sake as it was shot with a different cast on the same sets). In the early days of film alternate versions were shot for other markets where they might be popular usually with a different director. Hitch spoke German since he worked early on in that country shooting films and absorbing much of the early German expressionist styles that he would reference throughout his career)so directed it himself. "The Skin Game" and "Rich and Strange" (the latter an early Hitchcock classic) are also included. A pity that "Blackmail" (Hitch's first talkie that was also shot to be shown as a silent film) isn't included as well.
The bad news is that we don't get any feature length commentary tracks by Hitchcock historians and film scholars (which is just as well if these things bore you). We do, however, get a new 15 minute featurette focusing on Hitchcock's early life, his collaboration with his wife Alma (who is often overlooked--we must remember that it was team Hitchcock collaborating which consisted of Hitch, his wife Alma and whomever their current favorite writer was)and the development of his early style. It features interviews with USC Hitchcock Professor Drew Casper, director Peter Bogdanovich, Hitch's daughter and screenwriter/film historian Steve Haberman. We have a generous amount of clips from the set illustrating their points. I do wish that "The Lodger" had been included in this set but that's a pretty minor point (although honestly it does belong here as an example of his developing sense of style). Also missing is Hitch's "Number 17" which would have been a natural to include in this set even though the plot is a bit confusing, it's a fun ride.
This is an excellent collection of early minor classics as Hitch developed his film style. It's clear that he was influenced by seeing other directors such as Fritz Lang and FW Murnau but he had already begun to develop his own distinctive voice as a film director. This is a good set to get and is a pretty inexpense handsome package for fans.