Updated: Jul 18, 2021
Hitchcock fans get a new 4K release of The Birds, Edith Head fans can enjoy her final Oscar winner, and My Fair Lady devotees get a Blu-ray packed with extras.
If you love Edith Head, your fandom is sure to be sated with a pair of Blu-ray releases this month, while the film that's without a doubt Cecil Beaton's most celebrated work enjoys a new restoration with a bounty of extras.
The Birds (1963)
Starring Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hedren's costumes by Edith Head
It's far from Alfred Hitchcock's most stylish films, but The Birds instantly establishes the elegance of Tippi Hedren's character, Melanie Daniels, from its first scene, as she wears a chic navy suit while flirting with Rod Taylor in a pet store. Hitchcock wanted to position Hedren in the best possible light for her film debut, and that included engaging Edith Head to design her costumes, resulting in that navy suit and the smart mint-green ensemble that follows (both with matching shoes and bags). While the costumes aren't a key part of this story of a bizarre bird attack in the northern California town of Bodega Bay, Head's stylish designs instantly send signals about Hedren's socialite character, and that was precisely the point for both the director and the woman who was arguably his favorite costume designer.
This 4K release offers features that include a look at what was supposed to be the film's original ending (no spoilers), as well as a deleted scene, Hedren's original screen test, and excerpts of the famed interviews between Hitchcock and François Truffaut. For hardcore Hitchcock fans, a SteelBook release of The Birds is scheduled for the same day, with beautiful artwork that includes the legendary director's autograph.
The Sting (1973)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford
Directed by George Roy Hill
Costumes by Edith Head
This Best Picture winner in 1974 is also distinguished today as being the final Academy Award Edith Head would take home, her eighth Oscar in a career that included a record-setting 35 nominations, the most for any woman or designer in Oscar history. She would be nominated twice more, for 1976's The Man Who Would Be King and 1977's Airport '77, but Head's talents are on full display in this George Roy Hill film, the story of two grifters who excel at both short and long cons as they plot their revenge against a crime boss (superbly played by Robert Shaw) responsible for the murder of their mutual friend. The glamour is rooted in the men's costumes in this film (Head received an assist from costumer Bernie Pollack), from the chalk-stripe three-piece suits to the wing-collared tuxedo shirts. Indeed, Roger Ebert called it "one of the most stylish movies of the year" in 1973.
Without question the best bonus feature on this 4K release of The Sting is a three-part documentary that explores the film's creation and includes interviews with Paul Newman, Robert Redford and others. Four years earlier Newman and Redford cemented the star power of their partnership with 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; that film's popularity turned The Sting into an event film, as audiences couldn't wait to see the re-teaming of the two actors. You'll feel the same revisiting one of cinema's best buddy films.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison
Directed by George Cukor
Costumes by Cecil Beaton
Whether My Fair Lady is already part of your library or you're discovering it for the first time (and lucky you if it's the latter!), this latest Blu-ray release is a must for fans of Audrey Hepburn and iconic musicals alike.
This story of a cockney flower girl's rise to elegant and empowered woman, thanks to the phonetics lessons from Professor Henry Higgins that awaken her mind, is beloved for many reasons, from Hepburn's performance to its onscreen transfer from the wildly successful Lerner & Loewe Broadway musical to the spectacular costumes by Cecil Beaton, who was among the film's eight Oscar winners in 1965 (director George Cukor also took home the Academy Award, while My Fair Lady also captured Best Picture). Hepburn, alas, wasn't even nominated, while Julie Andrews famously experienced a bit of karmic retribution: She had won raves as Eliza on Broadway, but lost the film role to Hepburn, and then won the Best Actress Academy Award for Mary Poppins, released the same year.
In addition to its latest restoration — a mouthful of an explanation from distributor Paramount Pictures: "Restored in 4K from 8K scans of the original 65mm elements with 96K resolution Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track" — this release is also jam-packed with features, including a look at production tests, featurettes that delve into the story and design elements of the film, a making-of feature titled, "More Loverly Than Ever," a look at the Los Angeles and U.K. premieres, and a Rex Harrison radio interview. This release also includes Hepburn's own vocals on "Show Me" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," allowing viewers to judge for themselves whether she should have been dubbed by Marni Nixon. And no less than Andrew Lloyd Webber and Martin Scorsese weigh in with their own comments on My Fair Lady — after almost 60 years, the film's fans and its impact on cinema remain that impressive.