Angel and the Badman (Force) (1947)

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Released 21-Sep-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1947
Running Time 99:39 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Edward Grant
Studio
Distributor
Republic
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring John Wayne
Gail Russell
Harry Carey
Irene Rich
Olin Howlin
John Halloran
Joan Barton
Craig Woods
Marshall Reed
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $18.95 Music Richard Hageman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 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

    Remember the good old days of Saturday afternoon matinees? Those old staples, the westerns that we probably saw dozens of times and could barely distinguish one from the other? Well, Force Video have brought those days back with Angel And The Badman, one of the Duke's better films by reputation.

    Quirt Evans (John Wayne), a gunfighter of some past notoriety whose name commands instant respect, rides into town with a bullet injury. After "obtaining" the help of a local farmer, he manages to get his telegraph off staking his land claim before falling into the arms of the beautiful daughter, Penelope Worth (Gail Russell). Nursed back to health by Penelope, with the aid of the local doctor, Quirt naturally falls for the young lady - but her being a Quaker creates some confusions for him: after all, a Quaker is the absolute antithesis of a gunfighter. Nonetheless, in the desire to please he stays around the farm and in the process gets the water flow restored to the Worth's farm, which has been stopped by a neighbour, earning the respect of the Worth family and the local Quaker community. Caught between his desire to return to his former riotous ways and his love for the Quaker woman, Quirt variously gets involved in a cattle rustle double cross, a bar fight and the suspicions of the local marshall Wistful McClintock (Harry Casey), before finally deciding that the life of a farmer with his lady is the life for him.

    Like many a western before and since, the plot is not exactly the greatest story ever told - and nor do we expect it to be. Westerns are pure escapism and that's what we expect - the opportunity to switch off for a couple of hours and watch the clichés roll by. As long as the man gets the woman, everything is all right. The Quaker aspect adds an intriguing twist to this film, but this is a John Wayne vehicle like dozens of others churned out to keep his legion of fans happy. Although it is fair to say that he couldn't act to save his life, he had a presence that few actors had and it permeates the film, with basically everything else an irrelevancy. The support cast is good, if not especially memorable, and for its day the cinematography was quite good. But this is John Wayne as we remember him and just enjoy the film for that.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Okay, we are talking about a 1947 film here so some allowances have to be made, especially as this has not had the benefit of a THX remaster nor the wonders of a Columbia TriStar restoration.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, but is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Overall, the general transfer is not very sharp and definition at times is poor, especially earlier in the film. Clarity is quite poor early on in the film and the overall effect is very murky indeed. However, after about the 9:30 mark, the quality of the transfer improved considerably. Not the best black and white I have seen mind you, but respectable enough as the clarity and definition improves. Shadow detail early on was also quite poor but again improves as the film moves on - although obviously we are never going to talk demonstration quality here.

    This is not a very vibrant black and white transfer and there is a distinct lack of depth to the black and white tones: everything is very grey rather than black or white. Nonetheless, it is not as bad as I was expecting and overall quite respectable.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts during the film. Video artefacts were mainly noticeable in the form of loss of focus in panned shots, but this may of course be inherent in the original print and not a mastering problem. Surprisingly, film artefacts were not that prevalent and were hardly distracting at all. Indeed, this is one of the cleaner prints I have seen for films of this sort of vintage.

Audio

    Well, after the first two minutes I thought this was going to be a shocker, but it ended up not being too bad at all - within the realms of what we can expect for a soundtrack of this vintage.

    There is only one soundtrack on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, which sounds very decidedly aged mono. The reference to HiFi Stereo on the packaging is somewhat misleading, as it certainly does not appear to be stereo and is definitely LoFi. Early on the soundtrack was very poor with some noticeable distortion, some audio drop out and plenty of background noise. But after that magical 9:30 mark, it improved considerably and background noise was not a significant problem thereafter.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

    Audio sync is not a significant problem with the transfer, although there were the usual hints of it that are almost inevitable in a soundtrack of this vintage.

    The score was provided by Richard Hageman and a fairly typical western score it is too. Nothing especially memorable about it and very clichéd - but I suppose that is part of the charm of those Saturday afternoon matinee movies.

    The soundtrack is very much front and centre and there is no use made of surround channels at all. Somewhat unnatural to those used to the delights of modern digital recordings, but really not that bad once you get used to the sound stage. Given the age of the soundtrack, which is from the depths of the mono era, we simply cannot expect too much, and a stereo remaster would probably have been no great improvement.

Extras

    A very poor collection of extras - but still miles better than Buena Vista manage for most of their releases.

Menu

    Very plain indeed, but then again it does not have much to do.

Biographies - Cast

    Actually only a biography, and a very short one at that, for John Wayne. Quite disappointing really as it would have been nice to know a bit more about some of the rest of the cast, whose names I am not too familiar with.

R4 vs R1

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

   Available in two different versions in Region 1, the one issue appears to be similar to this Region 4 disc; the second issue (actually Region 0) is as part of a double feature with the featurette "John Wayne on Film". Assuming a similar quality of transfer, the latter would seem to be the way to go.

Summary

    Angel and The Badman is definitely not one of the classics of cinema, however it is representative of John Wayne's contribution to film history. I have to confess that I was overall quite pleasantly surprised by the general quality on offer in the transfer, and whilst it is by no means demonstration class in any way, Force Video should be congratulated for looking to expand the Region 4 discography with releases of this vintage.

    The overall video quality is acceptable for a film of this vintage.

    The overall audio quality is also reasonable for a film of this vintage.

    Perhaps a little more effort could have been made with the extras though.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, October 01, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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