|Year Released||1948||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||127:31 Minutes
Fox Home Video
Harry Carey, Sr.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None||Dolby Digital||2.0|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The film begins with Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) and his young adopted son by the name of Matthew Garth (Mickey Kuhn) picking out a piece of land to raise their cattle on, and killing some rivals in the process. Once Dunson is finished dealing with other claimants to his land and espousing his dream of making a fortune as a cattle trader, we move forward an indeterminate number of years until Matthew is a young man, now played by Montgomery Clift in his cinematic debut. Due to the economic changes brought about by the Civil War, the bottom falls out of the beef market in the Southern States, leaving Thomas with no option but to take his numerous cattle and his employees on a long, dangerous trek to Missouri. Along the way, a dispute ensues between Thomas and Matthew, mainly owing to Thomas' tyrannical ways of dealing with his business, and Matthew takes off with the herd for Kansas on the basis of information given to him by Cherry Valance (John Ireland). Thomas, swearing to take vengeance for the betrayal, sets off in pursuit of his young ward and the cattle, with the inevitable Western showdown guaranteed in the chapter listing.
According to information I read on the Internet Movie Database, this is an accurate film about the life of a cattle herder during the post-Civil War days, but I still prefer the Westerns produced in Italy by the likes of Sergio Leone to this film. Obviously, this is purely personal taste, so bigger fans of the traditional Western will probably find this to be a perfectly satisfying film. One interesting thing to note is that Leonard Maltin is quoted as rating the film at four stars (out of how many, I do not know), and describing it as "an absolute must". What makes this so interesting is the fact that his surname is actually spelt Moltin on this cover, which leads me to believe that MGM have caught the nasty packaging-error bug from Warner Brothers.
Being a black and white film, there was no real colour saturation to speak of in this transfer, but thankfully all of the objects in this film are well defined against one another, in contrast to other black and white films such as Plan 9 From Outer Space. MPEG artefacts were not noticed at any point in the transfer, but they had plenty of chances considering that the transfer rate consistently falls below three Mb/s in order to fit all of the film onto one layer. Interestingly, the parts of the film that show the biggest problems with grain are those where the film is the most tightly compressed. Film-to-video artefacts were mostly absent, but consisted of some small amounts of telecine wobble in the credits that was more likely introduced by the camera used to shoot them. Film artefacts were constantly present, with all sorts of scratches, flakes, and dirt becoming apparent in the picture.
Interestingly, the subtitles encoded on this disc are given a slightly transparent grey background to separate them from the rest of the picture, a practise I would like to see more of with black and white films.
The music in this film is credited to one Dimitri Tiomkin, with Jester Hairston as the uncredited choral director and Vinton Vernon as the music recordist. It is fairly typical of the style and era. It is not a bad effort for the style that it employs, with abundant use of horns, guitars, banjos, and chanting men all present and accounted for. I cannot help but think of the Psycho Dad theme from Married With Children when I hear most of the music in this film, however. If you can imagine me giggling hysterically while listening to Western themes, then I'm sure you can understand just how comical the music tends to sound, if only by association. In any case, the music is nicely married to the on-screen action and perfectly suited to its purposes.
Being that this is a two-channel mono soundtrack, there was no surround presence to speak of. The centre and rear speakers basically yawned quietly and played cards with the subwoofer, which didn't even get any redirected signal to have some fun with. The lack of surround channel usage is a disappointment, but no real surprise in the context of the rest of the film.
The video quality is very good for a fifty-year-old film.
The audio quality is also very good for fifty-year-old film.
The extras are almost non-existent.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|