Winchester 73 (1950)

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Released 17-Aug-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Interview With Jimmy Stewart
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1950
Running Time 88:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Anthony Mann
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring James Stewart
Shelley Winters
Dan Duryea
Stephen McNally
Millard Mitchell
Charles Drake
John McIntire
Will Geer
Jay C. Flippen
Rock Hudson
John Alexander
Steve Brodie
James Millican
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Walter Scharf


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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 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

    Winchester 73 was one of the first serious westerns of the 1950s, though today it is a little less impressive than it must have seemed in 1950. Lin McAdam (James Stewart) arrives in Dodge City with High Spade (Millard Mitchell), to join in the 1876 Centennial celebrations, at which a shoot-off will be held in which the winner gets a one-in-a-thousand Winchester rifle. Soon after arriving their guns are impounded by Wyatt Earp (Will Geer), which is just as well as McAdam meets up with the similarly gunless Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally). It is obvious that they have some history.

    McAdam has been searching for Brown for some time, to gain revenge for some past wrong. The plot of this film is a series of episodes, which follow McAdam's quest for revenge and the fate of the Winchester which passes from owner to owner. The film ends with a brilliantly made shootout on a rocky outcrop. In between, the film has some interesting sequences, such as that involving an Indian trader (John McIntire) and Dutch Henry, and the last 15 minutes of the film, which is exceptional. There is also an Indian chief on the warpath (Rock Hudson with a false nose) and one of those psycho killers than Dan Duryea was so good at. Shelley Winters also has a role as a "singer" (we are meant to infer what she really did for a living).

    This is a fine film, though it tends to meander for some of the journey. It was the first of eight collaborations between the star and director Anthony Mann, who was virtually unknown before this film. As Stewart points out in the commentary included as an extra, Mann was an expert at framing shots, and this comes across clearly in this film, with some nicely composed scenes filmed by veteran cinematographer William Daniels.

    This was a change of type for James Stewart, and he is very good as the driven McAdam. The supporting cast is also fine, with one of McNally's better performances and Duryea's typical whining killer. There are many familiar faces in the cast, even including a very young Tony Curtis in a small role as a soldier. Recommended for western fans.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1.

    The image is quite sharp and clear most of the time, with a good level of detail.

    There are some mild examples of aliasing throughout the film, though these are not severe. Curved lines tend to show jagged edges, and there is an example of the moire effect at 62:40. Edge enhancement is also visible when the background is lighter in colour, though this is only mildly distracting.

    The film has a lot of dirt, small white spots and specks, and is obviously not from an restored print. It is a pity as this film deserves better. There are splice marks at 20:16. There is also some larger print damage at 11:33 and 72:05. Grain is noticeable but not excessive.

    English subtitles are provided, in white lettering, and are very close to the spoken word.

    This is a single-sided disc, so there is no layer change to contend with.

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

Audio

    The sole audio channel is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. There is no surround encoding.

    The audio mix is very good, with clear dialogue throughout. I did not notice any hiss or distortion, although as you would expect the dynamic range is limited by the original mono recording.

    There is a credit for music direction by Joseph Gershenson, which suggests that the score was compiled from stock music, and it certainly sounds that way. Even so, it does fit the film.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu has a western theme that does not appear to come from the film.

Audio Commentary with James Stewart

     This is actually described as an interview, but is in fact a feature length commentary featuring Stewart reminiscing about the film, the actors, the director and his career. The commentary was recorded for the laserdisc edition of this film, and Stewart is interviewed by someone named Paul. He does state his lengthy and Germanic surname but I have no idea how to spell it, and have not been able to find any information about the interviewer, who often says "Oh my god!" rather than a more considered comment. Stewart is very forthcoming and this is an intriguing commentary, though I doubt if I would want to listen to it again.

Theatrical Trailer (2:10)

    This looks like a third generation duplicate print in poor condition. It gives a reasonable idea of the film without giving too much away. It ends rather abruptly.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 equivalent appears to be identical, so there is no reason to prefer one above the other.

Summary

    A fine western well worth seeing, though not an out-and-out classic.

    A good but not perfect video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    The commentary makes a nice extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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