2010 Calvin Awards: Best DVD

February 9, 2010

Hey, I'm just like Cary Grant! Women always look like they want to throw up on dates with me, too.

Best DVD is a category that may be in its final year and we largely viewed it as Best Disc since most of the selections listed here are actual Blu-ray nominations anyway. Keeping this in mind, at least disaster was averted as the best release of the year snuck out a win at the last moment.

The 50th Anniversary Edition of North by Northwest is our selection for disc of the year. This package is the rare exception that shows the proper deference to one of the greatest movies ever made. Too often, great films are reduced to the most generic of feature sets. We have oftentimes marveled at this devopment, wondering aloud why the owners of some of the most notable intellectual properties in the history of the industry treat them with less respect than an Alvin and the Chipmunks disc. Warner Bros. itself has been guilty of this on many occasions, but we are thrilled that they made an appropriate exception with one of the greatest films of one of the greatest directors of all time.


When writer Ernest Lehman embarked upon the creative process that would produce North by Northwest, his aspiration was no less than to make "the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures". Shockingly, he accomplished just this task in the eyes of many, bringing to life a character named Roger O. Thornhill, an ordinary man who suffers a case of mistaken identity that leads him to have a most extraordinary day. Mistaken for an undercover agent named George Kaplan, a person who does not even exist, Thornhill as played by Hollywood icon Cary Grant finds himself thrust into a series of spy games with the highest of stakes. Along the way, he meets a helpful but untrustworthy asset named Eve Kendall. She seems to like our hero an inappropriate amount, but she also seems to be in tight with the very villains who are chasing and attempting to eliminate Thornhill. It's yet another iteration of Hitchcock's ice queen blond fetish and perhaps the finest implementation in his storied career. North by Northwest has been acclaimed as one of the greatest action films ever made and currently sits in the upper list of AFI's list of 100 Years... 100 Movies. Also, proving the feature is timeless, it currently sits in the top 35 on IMDb's top 250.

While the quality of North by Northwest is irrefutable, the features on the disc itself are the key to its winning disc of the year. The 50th Anniversary Edition includes a 43-page booklet built directly into the collector's case. No wider than an ordinary Blu-ray package, the North by Northwest case is effectively a small book with a disc inlay on the final page. Contained are stories about the creative process as well as some fantastic production and promotional stills from the film. The disc itself contains the storied restoration of the original VistaVision film print as well as commentary from Lehman himself. Holding this disc case feels like holding an important piece of Hollywood history. I am surprised the vote to determine the best disc of the year was this close as from my perspective, the difference between North by Northwest and the rest of the nominees is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.

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