DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Alfred Hitchcock
Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, William Devane
Writing Credits:
Ernest Lehman

A phony psychic/con artist and her taxi driver/private investigator boyfriend encounter a pair of serial kidnappers while trailing a missing heir in California.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French DTS Monaural
Castillian DTS Monaural
Spanish DTS Monaural
Japanese DTS Monaural
German DTS Monaural
Italian DTS Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 5/10/22

• “Plotting Family Plot” Documentary
• Storyboards
• Production Photographs
• Trailers
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Family Plot [4K UHD] (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2023)

A great career came to an end when 1976’s Family Plot hit the screens, as it represented the final flick from the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. Though Hitch wouldn’t die until 1980, he stepped away from the director’s chair after this one.

Wealthy old lady Julia Rainbird (Cathleen Nesbitt) hires phony “psychic” Blanche (Barbara Harris) to use her alleged supernatural skills to locate the illegitimate child of Rainbird’s sister, a person who would be the sole heir of the family fortune. Along with her cabbie/aspiring actor boyfriend George (Bruce Dern), Blanche undertakes this search.

In the meantime, we encounter Fran (Karen Black) and Arthur (William Devane), a pair who kidnapped wealthy Victor Constantine (Nicholas Colasanto). They return him in exchange for an enormous diamond that they plan to pawn in Europe. The movie traces the two tales and how they intersect.

Since Plot represents Hitchcock’s swan song, it’d be nice to report that it qualifies as a classic. I can’t make that claim for the flick, but I think it marks a moderate return to form for the director. After the heights of 1963’s The Birds, Hitchcock created movies that ranged from mostly decent to disappointingly dull.

While Plot doesn’t soar, it does manage to keep our attention across its 120 minutes, and the dual plots that eventually intersect work pretty well. At first, it seems difficult to imagine how the film will interconnect them, but it slowly melds the two, and it does so in a smooth, believable manner.

Well, as believable as a story like this can be. We need to accept plenty of potential holes and liberties to enjoy this sort of tale, but Hitchcock makes those leaps of faith go down without too much effort. The situations and characters intrigue us enough to allow us to forgive the gaps.

Given the darkness found in so many Hitchcock films, Plot feels surprisingly light. Oh, it demonstrates some of the usual black comedy, but not to the standard degree. It comes across as almost chipper and good-natured at times, concepts I don’t expect from Hitchcock.

This doesn’t mean Plot comes across as something by a different director, as it clearly remains a Hitchcock work. I just think it’s a little softer than usual.

This doesn’t mar the flick in general, though I do dislike the comedic bent during one sequence. We see a runaway car that seems destined to crash and kill its inhabitants.

Rather than play this for its natural tension, Hitchcock turns it into a slapstick piece due to the hysterics of one of the folks involved. I’d prefer it if he’d gone for the drama, as the comedy makes the scene rather absurd.

Despite the occasional misfire, though, Family Plot remains a generally enjoyable flick. It presents an intriguing tale and allows events to unfold in a manner that keeps us involved. It’s not classic Hitchcock, but it’ll do.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Family Plot appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While not a visual showcase, the image replicated the source about as well as I think it could.

Sharpness varied and some instances of softness occurred. However, much of the movie showed appropriate delineation, so the inconsistencies created no real concerns.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt heavy but natural, and print flaws remained negligible.

The movie’s palette learned toward blues and earthy browns. Though these didn’t impress, the disc rendered them in an appropriate manner. HDR added emphasis and range to the tones.

Blacks could lean a little too dense, but they usually felt well-depicted, and shadows were reasonably smooth. HDR contributed oomph to whites and contrast. While you won’t use the 4K to show off your TV, it gave us a more than adequate rendition of the film.

As for the DTS-HD MA monaural audio of Family Plot, it fared nicely after all these years. Music sounded the best, as the score was surprisingly robust and dynamic.

Effects lacked the same vivacity, but they appeared clear and accurate. Dialogue was also concise and natural, and no source noise marred the presentation. I felt pleased with this high-quality single-channel track.

How does the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both provided identical audio.

On the other hand, the 4K’s visuals offered a tremendous upgrade on the severely problematic Blu-ray. Even with its inconsistencies, the 4K nonetheless delivered a better defined, cleaner and more film-like presentation. This was a major step up in quality after the weak Blu-ray.

As we head to extras, we locate a documentary called Plotting Family Plot. This 48-minute, 22-second program involves remarks from director’s daughter Pat Hitchcock O’Connell, assistant director Howard Kazanjian, Universal Studios executive Hilton Green, set designer Henry Bumstead, composer John Williams and actors Bruce Dern, Karen Black, and William Devane.

We learn about the source novel and its adaptation, pre-production and working with Hitchcock, visual effects, cast and crew, locations and sets, storyboards and planning, the score, and shooting specific scenes. Most of the prior Hitchcock documentaries proved informative and engaging, and that trend continues here.

While Plotting doesn’t follow the most logical path through its subjects, it covers a lot of useful subjects and throws out plenty of fun stories. It becomes a consistently enjoyable program.

Storyboards appear for “The Chase Scene”. This area uses still frames to show the storyboards. I like the inclusion of the drawings, but I’d have preferred a split-screen running comparison to this still presentation.

We find two moderately interesting trailers. Hitchcock appears during both, but he doesn’t add enough to make them great.

Under Production Photographs we find 87 stills. These mix shots from the set, publicity images and ads to create a good collection.

A second disc provides a Blu-ray copy of the movie. It includes the same extras as the 4K.

A great career came to an end with Family Plot, Alfred Hitchcock’s final film. While he didn’t go out on top, he did end things with a pretty good effort, as Plot was arguably his best flick since 1963’s The Birds. The 4K UHD offers generally good picture and audio as well as the usual allotment of interesting supplements. I like the movie and this becomes a satisfying rendition.

Note that this 4K UHD version of Family Plot can be found on its own or as part of a 5-film set called “Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection”. This also includes Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, The Trouble With Harry and Marnie.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of FAMILY PLOT

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main