In Pursuit of Honour (1995)

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Released 27-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 109:50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ken Olin
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Don Johnson
Craig Sheffer
Gabrielle Anwar
Bob Gunton
James Sikking
John Dennis Johnston
Robert Coleby
Neil Melville
Rod Steiger
Terence Crawford
Peter Curtin
Brian McDermott
Justin Monjo
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    There is one thing better than a good movie, and that is a fine movie that is also based on a true event. As luck would have it, In Pursuit Of Honour is both superb in its scripting and also based on fact.

    The Great Depression is commonly regarded as having started with the Stock Market crash in 1929, and ending in 1941 with America's entry into World War II. This movie begins with events which occurred on 28th July, 1932, which takes us to a time where money was scarce and jobs were almost a fond memory. A group of military troops are sent in to restore order during a public rally of 15,000 First World War veterans and their families. The crowd had come together to seek their rightful "bonus" payment, as promised by the Bonus Law of 1924 for payment in 1945. Due directly to the hardships caused by the depression, the group wanted payment immediately and would not budge. Whilst a bill was passed by the House of Representatives, the Senate blocked any immediate form of payment and tension mounted. General Douglas MacArthur (James Sikking) was given Herbert Hoover's Presidential orders to disperse the crowd, and not being a person known for his softly-softly approach, decided that brute force using Federal Cavalry Troops was in order. The result was that tanks, tear gas and armed soldiers were sent into the camps injuring hundreds of veterans and killing several poor souls.

    The movie actually starts a moment before this mayhem. Much background information is given in an initial black and white sequence which has the benefit of fitting in smoothly with the archival footage that is used in combination with a voiceover. Knowing more about the events leading up to this day can only make you fully understand the implications and therefore make a more informed opinion on the decision that was about to be made. When the soldiers were asked to attack the crowd, several retreated after Sgt. John Libbey (Don Johnson) made his horse back up a few paces. With a seething superior warning him of the repercussions if he failed to obey the General's orders, he had already decided that this was the worst possible solution and something he could not condone.

    The five men would ultimately spend a lifetime paying for this quick decision. We move forward 2 years and change to colour for the rest of the film. For their first punishment they are sent to the Texas/Mexico border area which at the time was one of the worst outposts to be placed at. Their days consisted of patrolling the border in hot and dry conditions and tending to their horses and training any that were caught. It was here that the group of men would be put into another position where they needed to make a split second decision that would last a lifetime. Due to increasing costs during the Depression, and the costs of feeding and maintaining a cavalry of horses, MacArthur decided that this money would be better spent on tanks and other military items. The required solution was to kill all but the mounts required for the men, keeping no spares. The other issues which upset the cavalry were that they were to bear an instant drop of 15% in their current wage, and swords were no longer to be issued, with those in use to be returned and possibly melted down. Rather than see the horses slaughtered by machine guns, the same five men decided to steal the lot of them and try to take them to safety instead. These animals were also soldiers and the cavalry had sworn an oath when joining the army that the horses could only be harmed by the enemy, not their own. The single act of watching them be killed went against all of their training and it would have been like asking them to watch the killing of a fellow soldier.

    This movie is really about their journey and the fact that a handful of men can make a difference. The US cavalry did not take the matter lightly and sent an entire Regiment to chase them down, a chase that would cover nearly 3,218 kilometres (2,000 miles) from one end of the country to the other against all odds. What amazed me was the fact they they couldn't be caught while crossing almost the entire country - it says a lot about military discipline and order at the time.

    I could write forever about the story from this point on, but you really must see this for yourself and see how history unravels for the five men. I also hope that the story has not been made more entertaining by altering some of the facts, but as best as I have been able to research, it appears to be quite a good interpretation of events. To top it off, the movie sports a great cast which includes Craig Sheffer as Lt. Marshall Buxton, Gabrielle Anwar as Jessica Stuart, Rod Steiger as Col Owen Stuart, Bob Gunton, Peter Curtin and many more.

    Put this movie at the top of your list to either own or rent - it truly is a compelling story and one that I am glad to have seen. This movie will be seeing many repeated viewings in the years to come in my household.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio of 1.29:1.

    The transfer is soft and reminiscent of a high quality VCR image and contains frequent grain. Shadow detail is rarely a problem - shooting in desert locations with their abundant natural light makes this particular problem almost non-existent. The best example of a low light area would be at 48:11 and you can see how much detail there still is. There is quite a lot of low level noise.

    The colours were average, which is disappointing for a film made in 1995. Colour does not always appear consistent throughout with some flesh tones being pink at one point and then realistic at another. Overall there tends to be a lot of colour detail evident - even the bland military uniforms clearly had enough colour information so you could discern which private had a faded shirt or a sun-bleached scarf around his neck. It's just unfortunate that the palette and contrasts falter at times, tarnishing the shot and the visual appeal of the story. The horses were spot-on in colour as was the military equipment and were probably the most consistent parts of the colour transfer. The best examples of colour were in MacArthur's office chambers (68:40) and in any footage involving the US flag (17:38).

    There were some mild macroblocking artefacts and aliasing was also evident at times. Film artefacts are a problem, especially early on, which can be attributed to the large amount of archival footage that is shown. Further into the movie this turns into dust and scratches on the image which can also cause a mild distraction.

    There are no subtitles at all on this disc.

    This disc is a single sided, single layered disc and therefore does not suffer from any layer change issues.

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

Audio

    There is only an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack on this disc.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer.

    The musical score by John Debney was well mixed and a fitting choice for this style of movie. The biggest problem, though, was the added sound effects that should have been subtle but which ended up driving me insane on the brief instances that they appeared. For example, at 17:56 to 18:57 there is a clock in the front left speaker. Whilst it is placed correctly in the soundstage, it is so loud that it was distracting and sounded downright wrong. When outside at dusk, the crickets are given too much volume as well. Whilst I have been on camping trips where these insects are deafening, this did not add to the movie but again distracted at these points. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point but that clock was coming d*** close.

    The surround channels were mildly used for ambience, music and special effects. At 33:08 there was some great surround use and it had the hallmarks of a 5.0 soundtrack briefly it was that well mixed. In other areas the special effects were realistic for tanks and vehicles. There was also great mixing for the horses with sound coming from all around at the times when this was required.

    The soundtrack does not utilise the subwoofer at any point but neither was it really missed or required during the film.

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

Extras

     There are no extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie and also in a full-frame aspect ratio with no audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version is also lacking in extras. Whilst the image quality is as bad as ours, the aspect ratio difference cannot be ignored and Region 1 clearly wins this race.

Summary

    This was a superb movie and far better than I was expecting it to be. I cannot recommend it enough - it's just unfortunate that something good comes along and it has been given such a poor transfer.

    The video quality is disappointing for a movie that was made so recently.

    The audio quality is better than the video but still contains flaws.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Monday, June 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Classic Series C31 (Mains); C06 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Transfer ? - wolfgirv
Among the Best - colin