Pale Rider (1985)

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Released 18-Oct-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 111:01
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Clint Eastwood
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Clint Eastwood
Michael Moriarty
Carrie Snodgress
Christopher Penn
Richard Dysart
Sydney Penny
Richard Kiel
Doug McGrath
John Russell
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Lennie Niehaus


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (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
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Well, if you don't like the mini resurgence of the Western in the eighties and nineties, you can pretty much blame this film for your woes. And in many ways this is the epitome of the spaghetti western's rise to respectability, for this obviously has much in common with that subgenre for which a certain Mr Eastwood is very famous. And that is precisely why I love this film, as it is the return of the genre upon which I spent many a pleasant Saturday afternoon matinee, and despite all the plot holes and implausibilities, it is an enjoyable way of spending a couple of hours.

    Pale Rider is your fairly typical story of a mysterious stranger riding into town to help the good townsfolk to overthrow the shackles of oppression from the local head honcho. Just your typical western really, but I suppose you want a little more than that, so here goes. A small mining village finds itself at the mercy of the local mining entrepreneur Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart) who wants their canyon to extend his mining operation. In order to persuade the community to give up and leave the canyon, the henchmen conduct a little raid on the village, wrecking homes and shooting a few innocent animals. After the raid, local miner Hull Barret (Michael Moriarty) heads to the local township to collect some materials to repair the damage. Whilst there he has an altercation with a few of the said henchmen and is only saved from certain serious injury by the timely intervention of the said mysterious stranger, known as the Preacher (Clint Eastwood). The Preacher returns to the village with Hull, where his presence restores the confidence of the beleaguered townsfolk. LaHood meets with the Preacher and offers to buy out the townsfolk to the tune of $1,000 per head, but the village votes no and vows to resist LaHood. In the end it boils down to the Preacher facing the hired henchmen of LaHood, and despite overwhelming odds, the Preacher emerges triumphant (hey, it is a western and it is Clint Eastwood, so the outcome was about as predictable as politicians lying). Add in a romantic sub-plot or two and you have your basic western packaged ready for viewing.

    Which is not to say that there is nothing to enjoy here - far from it, for it is a comfortable enough story. This is the sort of stuff that Clint Eastwood knocks together in his sleep, and this definitely comes across as very good quality B-grade film making. You either love or hate Clint Eastwood in this sort of role, and the rest of the cast do a decent enough job supporting him. As a director though, Eastwood is becoming quite adept, and this shows some early indications of his style. Overall, not too bad a film for two hours of entertainment, but it does make an interesting comparison with Silverado, released in the same year.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I don't know, but maybe it is me and 2.35:1 transfers at the moment, but this is slightly disappointing.

    Presented in a aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is a little variable, perhaps reflecting its age, but is generally sharp throughout and has good definition to it. It is not however an exceptionally clear transfer, and it is a quite dark transfer - at times I found it too dark and detail was lost as a result. The darkness has at times contributed to a lack of definition, with no real separation between foreground and background details. Shadow detail was decent enough at times, although it did on a few too many occasions lapse to being quite poor. There did not appear to be any low level noise problems with the transfer.

    The colours come up quite nicely rendered, although there was a degree of variability to the vibrancy at times. Some of the scenery came up very vibrant, nicely saturated indeed, whilst other portions of the film came up quite muted. At times there was a lack of contrast in the colours, which again contributed to a lack of foreground/background definition. I felt that this should have come up a lot more vibrant than it did overall.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts. There appeared to be minor film-to-video artefacts in the form of very minor aliasing a couple of times through the film. There was also a small amount of wobble during the end credits. Film artefacts were a bit of a problem during the film, but no more than I was expecting in a film of this vintage..

Audio

   The audio transfer is a new 5.1 remaster and very good it is too.

   There are three audio tracks on the DVD: the default English Dolby Digital 5.1, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The musical score by Lennie Niehaus is not especially memorable but is suitably western in style, and contributes well to the overall flow of the movie.

    This is a very nicely detailed and well balanced soundtrack, with some gorgeous detail out of the rear channels (just listen to the flowing stream in the rears earlier on in the film) that provide wonderful ambience. The overall soundscape is very natural sounding and very believable, and you feel a part of the soundscape throughout. The bass channel gets very little use, other than to support some of the explosions (and we are not talking audio demonstration here at all).

Extras

    Nothing at all. Zippo, nada. Unbelievable.

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 4 release misses out on:     There is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other, although Region 1 is marginally better, apart from the inherent superiority of the PAL system.

Summary

    If you like westerns, this is not a bad flick at all, but you should really check out Silverado: it comes from the same year but is a significantly better transfer and a better film. Plus that is a Collector's Edition whereas this is not - I cannot believe that Warners expect us to pay $30 for fourteen year old films, with no extras whatsoever. If it were not for the fact that this is a decent enough film, I would have recommended that you avoid it like the plague in protest.

    The overall video quality is fairly good, but with problems.

    A very good audio transfer.

    Extras? Nope!

    A brief suggestion for Warners - can you at least get your cover designers to use font colours that stand out against the background picture on the cover? It is extremely difficult to read portions of the rear cover of this effort. (Ed. The back cover artwork has been redone and addresses this issue).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, December 15, 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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