Bend of the River (1952)

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Released 17-Aug-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1952
Running Time 87:24
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
Arthur Kennedy
Julie Adams
Rock Hudson
Lori Nelson
Jay C. Flippen
Chubby Johnson
Harry Morgan
Royal Dano
Frances Bavier
Howard Petrie
Stepin Fetchit
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Hans J. Salter
Frank Skinner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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 Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Bend of the River is one of those adult westerns that became popular in the 1950s and extended the life of the genre. Glyn McLyntock (James Stewart) is a former border raider turned guide, who wants to forget his past and become a rancher with some settlers he is helping to get to land in Oregon.

    On the way he saves Emerson Cole (Arthur Kennedy) from being lynched for horse-stealing. Like McLyntock, Cole was a border raider who has some notions of getting away from his past, but is not as serious about it as McLyntock. The wagon train is menaced by Indians who wound Laura Baile (Julie Adams). Leaving her to recover in Portland, McLyntock, her father Jeremy (Jay C. Flippen) and the rest head for the open plain, which they want to clear and build on before the snows arrive. Local businessman Tom Hendricks (Roland Winters) is to send up their winter supplies and cattle when they arrive in about a month.

    Several months later when the supplies have not arrived, McLyntock and Baile head for town, to discover that a gold rush has forced the price on everything up and Hendricks has reneged on their deal, even though they had already paid. The heroes forcibly take the supplies with the help of Cole and gambler Trey Wilson (Rock Hudson), but Hendricks and his gang set out in pursuit.

    The themes of this western are what greed does to a man and whether a man can reform from being bad to being good. It is tempting to read something about the Hollywood blacklist into the story, but not every film of this era has to be considered in that way. The film is well written and benefits from capable and unobtrusive direction by Anthony Mann, who made several fine westerns with Stewart in the 1950s. The storyline is interesting and good use is made of the outdoor location, with some spectacular scenery. The supporting cast includes many familiar faces, like Harry Morgan, Royal Dano, Frank Ferguson and Jack Lambert to name just four. The character played by Stepin Fetchit, a black caricature just like those he played in the 1930s, seems out of place and is the one incongruous note in an otherwise excellent film. Recommended for all western fans and all James Stewart 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. Colour is also good in this Technicolor film, but there are times when the colour strips are misaligned, resulting in a slightly reddish hue to background detail. There are two or three severe examples of this, such as at 27:15 for several seconds. Flesh tones are occasionally less than accurate, but this is probably how the film originally looked. Black levels are good.

    Aliasing appears throughout the film, though rarely severe in impact. A lot of curved lines show jagged edges, and there is an example of the moire effect at 36:28. Edge enhancement is also visible when the background is lighter in colour, though this is only mildly distracting.

    The film has a lot of small white spots, obviously from an unrestored print in good condition. Occasionally there are larger white spots, or a flurry of spots around reel changes, though thankfully there are no reel change markings. There is a larger green splotch at 58:53.

    English subtitles are provided, in white lettering, and are quite 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.

    The music score is credited to Hans J. Salter, and is one of those typical western scores, with no distinguishing features. It could almost be stock music, though by that I am not suggesting that it is poor, just not distinctive.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    Some generic western music backing this static menu.

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 has a theatrical trailer, otherwise the transfer appears to be the same. There is no reason to prefer one over the other, unless you really want the trailer.

Summary

    A fine western well worth seeing.

    A good if not perfect video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    No extras of any note.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, August 01, 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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