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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Paint Your Wagon (1969)

Paint Your Wagon (1969)

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Released 6-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Theatrical Trailer-0:58
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 157:49
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Joshua Logan

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Lee Marvin
Clint Eastwood
Jean Seberg
Ray Walston
Harve Presnell
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Frederick Loewe
Andre Previn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (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
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

    This movie is a bit special to me. I was given the soundtrack album (on vinyl) for my birthday as a child - I hadn't seen the film at the time, and I went to see it not knowing quite what to expect. The film made an impression on a child.

    When you hear the names Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood what sort of film do you think of? The Dirty Dozen perhaps? Well, Clint Eastwood wasn't in that one, but he was in quite a few other war movies. Westerns? Well, they have both been in a lot of Westerns, but never together. In actual fact, the only film these two have been in together is this one.

    It's a strange idea - let's make a musical, and outfit it with actors who are not known for their singing ability. Lee Marvin's singing is...ummm...rudimentary. The one song he sings well is Wanderin' Star. Clint Eastwood can sing a little better, although one might hesitate to criticise the singing of the man who played Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name... As far as that goes, Jean Seberg was not known for her singing voice, but she copes well enough with being the only female voice. The only real singer among the named roles is Harve Presnell, playing Rotten Luck Willy, the town gambler - they needed one real singer to take the lead for They Call the Wind Maria, and he does an excellent job of it. Fortunately, most of the backing voices are professional and capable of excellent harmonies. This is a good musical if you like massed male voices. At the same time, I have to say that the casting is excellent - all of the stars are credible in their roles - it is quite clear they were casting for the acting, rather than the singing.

    Paint Your Wagon is a musical comedy set in the Californian gold rush of the 1840s. It begins as a covered wagon plunges down a steep hillside, killing one of the men in it and badly injuring the other. A lone gold prospector, Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin), wanders up and digs a grave for the dead man. During the creative funeral ceremony, attended by some of the other men in the wagon train, they discover gold in the dirt dug out of the grave - Ben claims the site for himself and for his partner - the survivor (Clint Eastwood). It is amusing that he is referred to as Pardner for almost the entire length of the film - I guess he's used to being a man without a name.

    The story follows the rise and fall of No-Name City (another Eastwood influence?) - a boom town built on gold prospecting. There are some marvellous moments of comedy along the way, and some excellent songs, as you'd expect this being a Lerner and Loewe effort. Included in the stand-out moments are the town meetings, the arrival of the Woodlings, the marriage under mining law, and the appropriation of the working girls, but the climax of the movie is the destruction of the town - you have to see it to believe it.

    Each time I see Clint Eastwood singing I Talk to the Trees I am reminded of the Eccles version: "I talk to the trees, that's why they put me away".

    Paint Your Wagon is a long movie (two and a half hours), but it doesn't feel like it - the story moves quickly, and keeps up its momentum all the way. We get the entire movie on this disc, from the overture over the watercolour paintings of the gold rush, the intermission with intervening music, and even the exit music (five and a half minutes of music playing over a black screen).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Paint Your Wagon
2. I Still See Elisa
3. The First Thing You Know
4. Hand Me Down That Can of Beans
5. They Call the Wind Maria
6. Ben's Wedding Day (parodies)
7. A Million Miles Away
8. I Talk to the Trees
9. There's a Coach Comin' In
10. No Name City
11. The Best Things In Life Are Dirty
12. Wanderin' Star
13. Gold Fever
14. No Name City (reprise)
15. Paint Your Wagon (reprise)
16. exit music - medley of reprises

Transfer Quality


    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's how I saw it over thirty years ago (well, not the 16x9 enhanced part...).

    The picture is surprisingly sharp and really very easy on the eyes. Shadow detail is very good, even in the flickering candle-lit scenes. There's no trace of low-level noise (the exit music comes over a jet black screen). There's no edge-enhancement.

    Colour is good. There's no trace of colour bleed or over-saturation, but there are few deeply saturated colours, because this is set in a time of drab colours, and a place of mud. One thing no one can complain about is the deep green of the forest around them - the scenery is good to look at, and the widescreen image gives it full opportunity to shine.

    There are spots and flecks on this print (the film is 33 years old, after all!), but they are almost all tiny. There's a fine blue line at 67:26, a watermark in the bottom right corner at 113:11, a blue splotch at 123:17, and a fine pale line across the entire frame at 118:58 (that's the only exceptionable artefact). There are moments of aliasing, but they're all minor. There's almost no moire, and no shimmer. There's a tiny frame jump at 57:23. This is quite a clean transfer for a film this age, excepting that line across the frame, and even that only lasts a single frame.

    There are subtitles or captions in 23 languages. As you know by now, I only understand English. The English subtitles are excellent - they are in a largish, clear and legible font and well-timed; single lines are placed under the picture, and they subtitle the songs as well as the dialogue (I always like that). Once again, I've spotted an error in the subtitles (yeah, I do take a perverse joy in that!): at 31:48 we hear Mad Jack (Ray Walston) say "eh, ba goom" in an Irish accent, but the subtitle shows "bridegroom".

    There are only 18 chapter stops in the whole two and a half hours, and that's pathetic - that's an average of over 8 minutes per stop. I'd rather see chapter stops placed every few minutes, especially at the start of every song. So I'd expect more like 60 or 70 stops in a movie of this length.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is superbly placed at 84:29, which is the start of the Intermission, on a static picture. It can only be spotted by the pause in the music.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The English soundtrack (the only one I listened to) is Dolby Digital 5.1. There are soundtracks in four other languages, but they are all mono.

    The dialogue is very clear. Audio sync is not visibly a problem, but some lines are audibly ADRed - the ambience behind the line is missing.

    We get music by Frederick Loewe, lyrics by Alan Jey Lerner, additional music by Andre Previn, and orchestral music scored and conducted by Nelson Riddle. It's good stuff - hearty, rollicking music that suits the gold rush setting, with the occasional more wistful note.

    This really isn't a 5.1 soundtrack - there's no content in the .1 track, so it's really 5.0. Not that you miss the subwoofer - it's not required. The surrounds don't get a heap of use, either - this is a frontal presentation, but that suits this movie - there's a slightly stagy feeling to this, but heck, it's a musical. Your front speakers will get a decent workout though - the sound is spread across left, centre, and right, and there's adequate bass in the soundtrack. There is some very faint hiss under the soundtrack, but it's only audible if you have excellent hearing, and it is drowned out by the sound almost all the time.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is simple and attractive, static and silent, and easy to operate.

Theatrical Trailer (0:58)

    This is a real theatrical trailer, presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. Enjoy it - it's your only extra.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 and R4 discs have the same cover art, and very similar content. The R1 only has English and French soundtracks and subtitles, though. The R1 even has only 18 chapter stops like ours. My estimate is that ours is the slightly better transfer, but the differences are small - you can be very happy with either disc.


    Paint Your Wagon is a marvellous musical, presented surprisingly well on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is rather good.

    The extra is rudimentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, June 03, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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