Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on February 28th, 2003
posted by Marc Atonna
Mitchum and Wayne are joined by a very young James Caan in this western tale of a few very talented fighters fighting a group of evil businessmen and cattle barons. Mitchum is the drunken sheriff who trades one crutch for another. Wayne plays an old friend with a fast gun and a bum right arm. Caan is a young expert with the knife, but needs a shotgun to hit the side of a barn.
The first hour introduces the bad guys and establishes the relationships and weaknesses of the good guys. …he second hour has our heroes working through their own demons and bad guys trying to break Edward Asner (yes, it’s Lou Grant) from jail. The story is important to the film, but it’s the characters and dialogue that drive this opus.Hawks and his team produced a very good looking product. Edith Head’s costumes are great, the score is not overbearing or absent, the dialogue drives every scene, and the timing of the comedy and action make the 126 minutes fly past. Just hit pause along the way and see how each scene is perfectly framed and balanced.
Paramount’s John Wayne movies have all either been kept in great condition or restored beautifully. There’s hardly an artifact that shows up in the whole film. The colors are ripe and make the players wardrobes look great whether they’re red or tan. The film is presented in its original, 1.85:1 widescreen format, and is enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions.
The sound options are what you’d expect from a sixties western. English and French mono are the choices here. The English track is crisp and clear. I gave the French a minute or so and, as you would expect, it sounds dubbed.
As is the case with most Paramount catalog discs, all you get is the standard trailer and scene selections. Not much to write home about.
Red River, Rio Grande, and El Dorado are all Hawks/Wayne collaborations based on the same basic story. I can understand why this was done. The story and characters are great compliments to each other. The disc could use at least some production notes or bios. Other than that, it’s a great example of a great western tale and a very good disc to experience. I’m just glad my lot in life isn’t to be the short piano player in a dusty town that has to quiver every time a gun is drawn.
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