Bad Company (1972)

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Released 1-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 88:47
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Benton
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Jeff Bridges
Barry Brown
Jim Davis
David Huddleston
John Savage
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Harvey Schmidt


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Nothing to do with the rock band of the same name, although reportedly they took their name from the movie, Bad Company is a 1972 'reality' Western, showcasing Jeff Bridges in one of his first leads. I'd seen the movie described as 'one of the finest Westerns ever filmed' so I was looking forward to this review. The film is set in the time of the American Civil War and features the linear timeline story of the well-educated, nicely spoken lad, Drew Dixon. In an effort to save their remaining son from the Union army draft, Drew is sent away by his parents to the nearby town of St. Joseph, Missouri, in order to escape to the safety of the  Southern stronghold, Virginia City. Armed with the princely sum of $100, Drew arrives in St. Joseph to find a 6 month wait for the stagecoach or wagon train. After drawing the suspicions of a couple of Yankee soldiers, he falls in with the amiable, but treacherous ruffian, Jake Rumsey, played by a youthful Jeff Bridges. Jake is the Fagan-like leader of a band of local wayward youths, who spend their time cultivating the arts of  hold-up, pick-pocketing and miscellaneous ignoble acts of petty thievery. The story concerns the band's adventures as they head West, across the Indian-ridden prairie, hoping to find their fame and fortune in the silver-mining mecca of Virginia City.

    It might spoil your enjoyment  to include many more details of the movie as their aren't too many highlights in the feature. There really isn't much by way of excitement or high drama. Instead, the film offers a reality-perspective on the grubbiness and hard times of the real pioneering West, where the heroes are more likely to be a bumbling cack-handed peasant than the slick gun-toting hero of some of the better known Westerns. The cinematography is nicely detailed as befits acclaimed Director of Photography Gordon Willis and director Robert Benton's better known screen-writing talents. It's worth freeze-framing some of the interior scenes to reveal the attention to detail of the period sets. There are also some light-hearted moments and nice vistas of the prairie but all-in-all the film flows along at a fairly sedentary pace and in the end I was still trying to figure out what the point of it all was. I guess as much as anything it was the (often corny) interplay between the goody-two-shoes Drew and the roguish Jake, reminiscent of the later TV series Alias Smith and Jones, and the ultimate blurring of their respective moralities, or lack of them. Jeff Bridges went on to play similar goofy roles for much of the past 30 years whilst Barry Brown played a few more cowboy roles and died 6 years later, at the untimely age of 27, by shooting himself. I guess that Paramount were similarly unsure of the place of the movie in today's canon of re-issues, as there doesn't appear to have been a great deal of effort expended on the movie's transfer to DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is transferred from a nice clean master but overall quality suffers the limitations imposed by release on a DVD-5 disc.

    The DVD is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness suffers from the compression needed to fit the feature onto a single sided disc and as a result falls short of latter day encoding. It's on a par with most movies seen at the cinema, of its day, but suffers noticeable grain throughout when viewed on the large screen (i.e. anything over 68cm). Shadow detail is reasonable, essential for the interior shots, and low level noise is absent. There is fine pixellization (e.g. grass in the opening shots or sky at 27:09) throughout the movie on background low contrast shots but aliasing is minimal. There is a noticeable telecine wobble throughout the movie both on the film itself and the screen credits. The movie itself is pretty clean (apart from the artefact-ridden Paramount intro logo) and film artefacts are hard to spot (a fine white then black fleck can be seen at 4:18 if you're really bothered!)

    Colours are slightly muted but very natural and realistic looking. There was no chroma noise of note.

    Subtitles in English for the hard of hearing are reasonably informative but miss the finer elements of dialogue.

    The film is single-sided, single layer and thus has no layer change transition point.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is adequate for a feature of this nature but wholly unexciting. The transfer seems optimized for dialogue and is somewhat light on bass.

    There is one English soundtrack encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The dialogue was clear although the softly spoken Jeff Bridges and American drawl made comprehension sometimes difficult and I picked up more spoken detail with the subtitles switched on.

    I didn't detect any lapses in audio synch.

    The music is credited to Harvey Schmidt and is again uninspiring, although adequate, and comprises largely bar-piano rendered doleful melodies with an overlay of flutter belying its analogue origin.

    Surround or sub-woofer activity - forget it ! (or you could try one of your shiny new processor's enhancement modes!)

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

Extras

    No extras - I don't count scene selection or opening menus as extras anymore!

R4 vs R1

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

    We may have been short-changed here, as the R1 release has a dual-layered disc with a reported 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer with no mention in R1 reviews of some of the compression artefacts I have noted. The rest of the R1 specs appear identical to our own version.

Summary

    Bad Company is a passable but uninspiring pioneer of the genre of reality Western, much better portrayed by movies such as Unforgiven or Dances with Wolves.

   The video quality is pretty ordinary although passable on smaller screens.

    The audio quality is below average and barely adequate for the feature although I think this more reflects the source material than the transfer.

    Extras are non-existent but quite honestly I don't think they would have added anything to the feature.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmon & Kardon DVD10, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V995. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Benton's gem - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED
Bad Company 1972 Movie: Is there any sheet music for this piano music? -