Man of the West (1958)

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Released 15-Aug-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1958
Running Time 95:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Anthony Mann
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Gary Cooper
Julie London
Lee J. Cobb
Arthur O'Connell
Jack Lord
John Dehner
Royal Dano
Robert J. Wilke
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Leigh Harline
Bobby Troup


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Finnish
Danish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Ageing ex-outlaw Link Jones (Gary Cooper) is travelling by train to Fort Worth to hire a schoolteacher for the small town he now lives in. On board the train are card sharp and con man Sam Beasley (Arthur O'Connell) and saloon singer Billie Ellis (Julie London). The train is held up by a band of thieves who make away with nothing more than Jones' overnight bag - unfortunately, it contains the money to hire the schoolteacher and Jones' gun. Even more unfortunately the three are stranded by the departing train a hundred miles from the nearest town.

    Jones leads the group to a house he once lived in. Here are the gang which held up the train, run by his uncle and former partner Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb). A nasty bunch of work they are too, including among their number a young and short-tempered gunslinger (Jack Lord), a mute (Royal Dano) and a roughneck killer (Robert Wilke). They are waiting for Jones' cousin Claude (John Dehner) to arrive before heading out to rob the bank at Lasso.

    Anthony Mann directed this Western which plays out more like a Greek tragedy against the barren and thinly populated landscape. The film is relatively short on action and long on verbal dramatics. There are some well staged action scenes, such as the gun battle between the gang on horseback and the train guard on top of the moving train, and the climactic shootout in the ghost town. But the substance of the film is in the barely concealed anguish within Jones; wondering whether he has really left his past behind, ashamed of what he once was and worried about his own survival with the homicidal and slightly deranged Tobin. Gary Cooper manages to carry off his part of the drama very well, but Cobb is less convincing in a hammy performance. Wilke is the most realistic of the outlaws, perhaps because he looks like an outlaw but more likely because he is not called upon to display any personal angst.

    The film looks a treat in widescreen with well composed shots showing off some stunning landscapes, or at least it would look a treat if any care had been taken over the transfer.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is transferred in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. That's about the best I can say about it.

    The transfer is reasonably sharp. Unfortunately the film has not been restored or even cleaned up to any significant extent. Contrast is average, with shadow detail disappointing. The film was shot in the DeLuxe colour process, but does not have the vividness that one would expect. Colours seem lifeless and slightly washed out. In dark scenes areas of the image that should be black often have a white, brown or blue sheen to them.

    There is plenty of grain, especially in the darker sequences, where there is also some low level noise. There is aliasing and some moire, and a small amount of telecine wobble. There are regular film artefacts, mainly small spots of damage. Reel change markings appear every twenty minutes or so and there are a number of tramline scratches from 76:00 onwards.

    The disc is single-layered. Optional English subtitles in large white lettering are provided. From the sample I viewed the dialogue seems to be translated verbatim.

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

Audio

    Audio is provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, with the English track supplemented by several dubbed versions.

    Dialogue is clear and distinct throughout. The audio is lacking in any sort of life but has no serious problems. There is some mild hiss and slight sibilance at times.

    The rousing Western score is by Leigh Harline. It is similar to those big western scores of the late 1950s (for example The Big Country) without being as memorable or as intrusive. There is also a title song.

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

Extras

    When the main menu has symbols without text for each of the options, you would not expect there to be any extras. And in that you would not be disappointed.

R4 vs R1

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

    There does not appear to be a Region 1 release of this film on DVD at the time of writing. The UK Region 2 is identical to the Region 4. There is a French Region 2 release which has several documentary extras (without subtitles I believe), but the picture quality is no better. There is no reason to shop overseas for this title.

Summary

    A good if not great western that deserves to be seen in the widescreen format.

    The video quality is not so good.

    The audio quality is average.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, September 10, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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