Zane Grey-Thunder Mountain/Wild Horse Mesa (Double Pack 4) (1947)

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Released 16-Aug-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1947
Running Time 120:25
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5 Directed By Lew Landers
Wallace Grissell
Studio
Distributor
C&C Television Corp
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Tim Holt
Richard Powers
Jason Robards
Nan Leslie
Richard Martin
Virginia Owen
Harry Harvey
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Paul Sawtell


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

    This is the third Zane Grey double-pack I have reviewed, and I must admit to being tempted to copy the previous review - there's not a lot of difference between the last one and this one. Same presentation, many of the same stars, same music, ... If you liked one of the others you can buy this one with confidence - it's not a whole lot different. One thing is different, though - there's enough difference in the plots that you won't confuse them.

    This time the movies are called Thunder Mountain (1947 - 60:09 minutes) and Wild Horse Mesa (1947 - 60:16 minutes). Both movies star Tim Holt, although his character has a different name each time. The movies have different directors, but both screen plays were written by Norman Houston (again). I get the feeling that these movies were rolled off a production line (pun intended), using many of the same people in lesser roles (both acting and crew), but varying the star occasionally, and the director almost every time.

    There are some interesting links between these two movies. In both, the chief bad guy is played by Jason Robards (he is in none of the others), and in both the calibre of pistol used becomes an important clue.

    Given that all the other characters are different, it seems quite odd that every one of these movies has the same sidekick: Chito Rafferty (I can't remember all his middle names) - who is half Mexican / half Irish. In the six movies I've seen this character played by one actor five times, and once by someone else (maybe he was sick that day?). Maybe it is meant to be a running joke - I don't know. Or maybe these movies are meant to follow the adventures of Chito's friends? That seems unlikely, given that Chito is supposedly a long-time partner to many of the different heroes.

    Thunder Mountain follows a man (played by Tim Holt) returning to his ranch after being away at agricultural college. Even on the stage coach back he runs into trouble, and is warned to go away by two brothers and a sister. Seems there's a long-running feud going on between two families, and both fathers have died (amongst others) as part of this feud. But is the feud all that is going on? Perhaps not - there's that shifty Jason Robards running the gambling joint in town, and he definitely seems to have an interest in seeing Tim Holt run out of town.

    Wild Horse Mesa is about catching wild horses for sale. Pops (Richard Powers) is convinced that he knows where to find the famous Panquitch herd. Panquitch is a wild stallion, who must have absolutely legendary prowess, for his herd is over 2000 horses (a stallion can normally only cover about 100 mares in a season, and a mob of wild horses is typically much smaller than that, but we shouldn't let fact get in the way of a good story). He and his daughter (Nan Leslie, who is the pretty girl in many of these) have the help of Davy Jordan (Tim Holt), who scares off the competing horse catchers. We can tell that the competition are bad guys - they use barbed wire to catch horses. This time Jason Robards is the shifty horse dealer who buys the horses from Pops. But Pops never makes it back to his daughter...

    Although the plots are not complex (these movies only run about an hour) they offer plenty of opportunity for gun battles, leaping off rocks onto riders (ever wondered how come they never miss?), and some really awful stunt fighting (the good guys only use fists, but the bad guys kick!).

    Yeah, I do poke a little fun at these films, but I enjoy them, nonetheless.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Once again, we get pretty reasonable video, considering the age of the film, and the original production standards.

    These movies are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced. That's very close to the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio.

    The image is soft, but there's no edge enhancement. There's reasonable shadow detail on most shots. I don't believe I saw any low-level noise, but it could have been hidden by film grain and film artefacts.

    There's virtually no aliasing, and I saw no MPEG artefacts, but we have collected a full set of film artefacts: flecks, spots, blobs, blotches, scratches (including a large scratch down the left side around 52:07 in Thunder Mountain), hairs, smudges, and burns. There's some wobble in both sets of opening credits, but I don't think that's telecine wobble; it looks more like an original part of the source material. On top of that, we have an interesting ripple in the opening credits of Thunder Mountain - it looks like the film was mis-threaded in the telecine machine, or something - maybe the sprocket holes were damaged. There's even a bit of blooming on the scene selection menu for Thunder Mountain, but it is not troubling.

    Colour? Lots and lots of grey. Blacks are dark grey, whites are light grey.

    There are no subtitles.



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

Audio

    There's one soundtrack, which is English in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Dialogue is fairly clear and comprehensible. I saw a glitch in audio sync at 41:16 in Thunder Mountain, but it looked like part of the original soundtrack, rather than a mastering issue.

    The score is absolutely standard stuff. Both movies are scored by Paul Sawtell, just like all of the others.

    This is a mono soundtrack. The centre channel takes sole responsibility for all the sound, including reproducing the constant hiss in the background.



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

Extras

    There are no extras.

Menu

    The menu system is the same as all the others, with the same brief music clip.

R4 vs R1

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

    These movies appear to be available in R1 only on VHS. Given that the quality we have on the R4 DVD is no higher than VHS quality, the only clear advantages are that the R4 DVD won't wear out, and doesn't require rewinding.

Summary

    These movies will never be presented better. If you are fond of the Western genre, and tolerant of old film, then maybe you should collect the whole set.

    The video quality is as good as can be expected from this source material.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, August 05, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, 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 and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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