Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 9th, 2005
The term Reivers, it is explained, is a turn of the century word for thieves. From that explanation one might expect an action adventure heist film. What you get instead is a Faulkner coming of age story. While the film has quite a few memorable moments of pure Americana, there seems little point in anything that happens on screen. Even the wonderful acting of Steve McQueen leaves most of the film muddied in a period piece about nothing at all. Burgess Meredith does a fine job of narrating the film from the point of view of an old man recalling a moment in his 11th year. I think I would have rather had Meredith providing a books on tape version of the original Faulkner work. The cinematography appears older than its 1969 production year implies. I don’t feel like I got to know these characters enough to simply want to be with them. The adventure is anything but. There’s a questionable moral character to the entire premise.
Boon Hogganbeck (McQueen) takes his boss Winton Flyer’s automobile on a joyride to a cathouse in Memphis. His sometime friend, Ned (Crosse) and a young boy, Lucius (Vogel) come along for the ride.
About the only impressive thing about this Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the awesome early score by John Williams. I must confess that this disc delivers a wonderful reproduction of the colorful music. The rest is far from fantastic. There is almost no use of ambient channels which begs the question: Why even use the 5.1 format at all? My sub was asleep the entire trip. (I was quite envious.) Dialogue is audible for the most part, but don’t expect much of a range here.
I could not find an exact spec for the aspect ratio, but judging from my own monitor I would put it at about 2.35:1. The picture is clean from specks or other film artifacts. The colors are quite subdued and soft. I’m guessing this was intentional to create the turn of the century atmosphere. There is considerable grain at times. I was also disappointed in the compression. With nothing else on the disc I see no reason for the average 4mbts this print offers. There are some very rough edits throughout, most notably one about 7 minutes into the film. I’m not sure if these are transfer problems or flaws in the original print.
Not One Thing!
Reivers is one of those down home films that come along every now and then. The concept of an older narrator telling us about some turning point in his life was probably done much better in A Christmas Story. Steve McQueen was probably looking for a break from his tough guy characters and took the film as a change of pace. The film is quite obscure today. I would suggest merely a rent if you’re curious or simply a McQueen fan. This was either an attempt to recreate McQueen or to merely capitalize on his then risen star. “I couldn’t figure out which.”