Six Black Horses (1962) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Oct-2019

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 80:08
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Harry Keller
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Audie Murphy
Dan Duryea
Joan O’Brien
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     As Six Black Horses starts Ben Lane (Audie Murphy) is walking in the desert carrying his saddle. He stumbles across a small herd of Mustangs and ropes one, breaking it in. Unfortunately, the horse belongs to someone and Ben is about to be lynched as a horse thief when he is saved by Frank Jessie (Dan Duryea) and the two travel to a nearby town. There they get into a gunfight and shoot two men neither of them knows but who were trying to kill them for some reason. As a result of their prowess with a gun they are hired by Kelly (Joan O’Brien) for $1000 each to escort her across Apache country to meet up with her husband. It is dangerous, but this is too much money to refuse.

     In Apache country it soon becomes apparent that Kelly has a secret agenda and finally we learn that Frank had in fact killed her husband and Kelly wants him dead, even going so far as to offer Ben the full $2000 if he will kill Frank for her. Ben refuses. But facing hostile Apaches, one of whom wants to trade a very good horse for Kelly, white scalp hunters and an almost inevitable confrontation between Ben and Frank there is no certainty that any of them will reach the next town alive. Or, in fact, be able to go out in style in a funeral carriage pulled by six black horses.

     Six Black Horses was directed by Harry Keller who had previously directed Murphy in Seven Ways from Sundown (1960) but the greater influence on the film was screenwriter Burt Kennedy. Kennedy had worked on five of the seven westerns made by director Bud Boetticher and star Randolph Scott including Ride Lonesome (1959) and Comanche Station (1960) and with Kennedy as writer Six Black Horses is deeper and more talky (and thus slower paced) than many of Murphy’s westerns with themes including loyalty, revenge, crime and retribution; indeed in Six Black Horses Kennedy repeated a line from his Ride Lonesome script that sums up his philosophy: “There are some things a man can’t ride around”.

     Murphy may not be in same league as Randolph Scott although he is more than adequate in Six Black Horses but the highlight is, again, Dan Duryea. Duryea had appeared with Murphy twice before, in Ride Clear of Diablo (1954) and Night Passage (1957), which was more a James Stewart film and in Six Black Horses he plays a wonderfully cynical and deceptive Frank Jessie whom one cannot help but like. And the dog that adopts Ben is also good value!

     Six Black Horses is a slow moving and talky western with some darker themes but it does have an Indian attack and chase sequence, good scenery, hidden agendas, an entertaining Dan Duryea and a bit of comedy with a dog.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Six Black Horses is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC but is not16x9 enhanced.

     Six Black Horses takes place in a dry, dusty landscape so colours are mostly muted browns and yellows with some scenes with trees with bright green leaves. Detail can be soft, especially in wide shots but as the night scenes where shot day for night blacks are solid and shadow detail good. Skin tones are natural, brightness consistent except at some scene changes. There are frequent small marks and a few bigger ones (see 20:33) as well as motion blur. Nothing serious, but it is there.

     No subtitles are available.

Video Ratings Summary
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Shadow Detail
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Overall

Audio

     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     Dialogue is clean. The sounds of galloping horses and gunshots were reasonable for a mono audio. There is no credit for the music; it could have come from any number of 50s westerns.

     There was no hiss or crackle.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Nothing. The silent menu offers only “Play”.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     I can only find a French stand-alone DVD release of Six Black Horses plus one in an Audie Murphy four film collection. In Australia the film was part of the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection, which is part of this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. See the summary section below.

Summary

     Six Black Horses is darker in tone than many Audie Murphy westerns due to screenwriter Burt Kennedy reprising some of his favourite themes although this results in a rather leisurely paced film. But with Dan Duryea in fine, cynical form, Audie Murphy and Apaches, the film is certainly worth a look.

     The video is acceptable although not being 16x9 enhanced the detail is affected, the audio is the original mono. No extras.

     Six Black Horses is included in the 14 disc / 14 film set Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. The 14 movies, made by Murphy between 1950 and 1966, are all westerns except for the army comedy Joe Butterfly. The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is made up from the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection and the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II. Both of these individual Man of the West Collection packs have been released previously. But if you are a fan of westerns or a fan of Audie Murphy and don’t have those two earlier collections, this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is a good buy.

     The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, November 08, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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