The Man from the Alamo (1953)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 4-Aug-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 76:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Subtitle Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Budd Boetticher
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Glenn Ford
Julia Adams
Chill Wills
Hugh O'Brian
Victor Jory
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Frank Skinner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Portuguese
Dutch
Swedish
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Hebrew
Arabic
Russian
Turkish
Greek
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The 1940s and the 1950s were the heyday of the American western film. Classics such as Shane and The Searchers were produced during this time. While The Man from the Alamo is not in their class, it is still an enjoyable film which uses many of the conventions of the westerns from that period.

    The film stars Glenn Ford, a quiet but strong character in the Gary Cooper mold. Over this period he starred in a number of westerns and in his later years (1971-72) moved to TV in a western series set in the modern era (Cade's County). I have always enjoyed his movies and had fond memories of watching this one as a child.

    Watching the film after a span of some 30 years I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film holds up well. The archetype of the misunderstood loner (often used in later films by Clint Eastwood) is well used here, and the film effectively contrasts the space of the Texas plains against the claustrophobic atmosphere of The Alamo.

    The film begins at The Alamo with the Mexicans about to attack. A messenger manages to get into the fort from the outside and reveals that the Mexicans are also attacking the Ox Bow area. A group of 5 men from Ox Bow who are inside the fort decide to send one of their number to look after their families. Lots are chosen (well, actually beans), and Ford's character, John Stroud gets the black one, which means he has to leave the Alamo.

    When Stroud arrives home he finds his ranch burnt and his family murdered. As it turns out, they have been killed by American renegades posing as Mexicans. He goes in search of their killers but is treated as a deserter by other Texans, who throw him in jail and decide to lynch him. I won't reveal the further developments in the story, but it builds to a decent action-packed ending, and even finds time for some love interest (played by Julia Adams) along the way.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is quite an old film now, and it shows. It appears that there has been no attempt at restoration and while the overall experience is better than a VHS tape, it is not up to the standard expected on a good DVD.

    The film is displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (and so is naturally not 16x9 enhanced), which is close to the correct 1.37:1 "Academy" ratio for the film (as used by most films of the time; this was the very early period for Cinemascope and other wide-screen processes).

    The picture as presented varies between reasonably sharp and fairly soft, and shadow detail is particularly poor. Most of the night scenes are shot in the daytime and filtered badly, so that anyone out of the direct light is difficult to see clearly. There is some low level noise but it does not detract from the picture.

    The film was shot in Technicolour but it has not aged well. While it is vibrant at times, it is harsh in most sunlit scenes and too dark in night scenes, as noted above (see 39:41 for a particularly bad night shot). The colour also varies at times.

    There is some telecine wobble during the opening credits (particularly around the 1:36 mark). Significant negative film artefacts are noticeable (see the left of the screen at 32:20 as an example). Minor positive artefacts also show up on occasion.

    The subtitles do not reflect the exact words spoken by the actors. As one example "Says he wants to talk to you" becomes "Wants to talk to you". On occasion, complete sentences are missed.

    The DVD has the layer change at 43:21. It is not disruptive (but not many are on my equipment). I'm not sure why they bothered with the two layers, given the poor picture and average sound - the multiple languages may have been a contributor.

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

Audio

    Overall the sound on this DVD is serviceable, without being particularly notable.

    There are 5 audio tracks on this DVD, all in Dolby Digital 2.0. The default audio track is English, and the DVD also includes French, German, Italian and Spanish tracks. I listened to the English track, both with and without the English subtitles. I also briefly sampled the French soundtrack - the actor dubbing Glenn Ford did not have the voice to suit the image.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Audio sync was good throughout.

    The music by Frank Skinner was quite enjoyable, rousing at times and adding to the action at others. It has that style which can only be called "American western" (think "The Magnificent Seven"). While not up to the class of the best western scores it added a lot to the enjoyment of the film.

    There was no surround presence at any time in the film, with the dialogue mostly focused on centre screen. The music was spread well across the stage.

    The subwoofer saw little use, except for some bass activity in the initial battle scenes.

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

Extras

    There are no extras apart from scene selection (where you have 20 choices) and the choice of language and subtitle tracks.

Menu

    The menu is animated with music encoded at 2.0, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1 at the moment, making the Region 4 the best (only) choice.

Summary

    Overall, this is an enjoyable example of the American western, marred by a poor transfer and average sound. It is a marginal choice at budget price, but worth a purchase from the bargain bin if you like westerns.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

Other Reviews
Web Wombat - John K
DVD Net - Anthony Clarke

Comments (Add) NONE