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    Hickok (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 31st, 2017

    “Sometimes it takes a good man to stop bad people.”

    And sometimes you can have good actors and a rich genre to draw upon with classic characters and still not get the job done. Sadly, that’s the big story for Hickok. This one arrived with some rather high expectations. It was being released in 4K, which appeared to signal some confidence from Cinedigm, who are just entering the UHD fray. The cast is also a good sign. Luke Hemsworth plays the titular character with a supporting cast that includes legend Bruce Dern, Trace Adkins, and Kris Kristofferson.
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    John Wayne Double Feature Rio Lobo/Big Jake (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 15th, 2017

    “It is, I think, going to be a very harsh and unpleasant kind of business and will, I think, require an extremely harsh and unpleasant kind of man to see to it.” 

    That man, of course, is John Wayne. They called him The Duke, and he was indeed western cinema royalty for six decades. He represented the American ideal of the tough guy who stood up for the weak and didn’t shy away from a fight. His characters usually worked hard, and they played just as hard. He had a unique way of turning a phrase and has been one of the most widely impersonated Hollywood voices. By the time the 1970’s rolled around, Wayne was coming to the end of a long career.
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    Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 23rd, 2016

    There’s a man comin’, and he aims to bury you.”

    That sort of threat — especially when it’s made within the trigger-happy Western genre — usually refers to a wronged hero looking to rain vengeance upon some dastardly villain who wronged him in an extremely personal way. The only most interesting thing about Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story is that our presumed hero is the one being hunted…and the “bad guy” has a legitimate gripe.
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    The Duel (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 30th, 2016

    You’re about to witness a Helena duel…a most noble affair of character and honor.”

    A “Helena duel” is also a brutal, bloody ritual where two combatants are joined at the wrist before engaging in a knife fight to the death. That combination of genteelness and barbarity is at the heart of The Duel, a Texas-set Western that reaches for grandiosity and doesn’t quite get there, but is nevertheless thoroughly entertaining.
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    Traded (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 11th, 2016

    “The story of the American Frontier is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the grit of the people.”

    And the story of the American Western is a tale of quick draw competitions, fights aboard speeding trains, and other assorted horseplay. Each of those elements can be found in Traded, which inelegantly grafts the plot of Taken onto an Old West setting. The problem is that nothing here is executed particularly well.
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    Forsaken (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 4th, 2016

    When you see the name Kiefer Sutherland and Jon Cassar together, you might well expect that you’re going to get another helping of the popular television series 24. There Sutherland made a pretty big name for himself in the television landscape as the gritty and “get it done” cop Jack Bauer. In the director’s chair for a good many of those episodes was Jon Cassar, who also shared executive producer duties on the long-running show. But you won’t find the ticking-clock-modern world of Jack Bauer here. Instead you’ll find a thoughtful western that actually avoids a lot of the genre-typical violence and delivers one of the better westerns I’ve seen in many years.
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    The Hateful Eight (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 30th, 2016

    The name Quentin Tarantino carries the weight of legacy as such directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and more recently Christopher Nolan.  I’m not saying one is better than the other, but simply by name recognition alone Tarantino is in the company of directors that when you hear that his name is attached there will be a loyal fan base flocking to the theaters to see what they have to dazzle us with.  This time around Tarantino returns to the cinema in his biggest release to date; in glorious 70mm we have The Hateful Eight
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    Bone Tomahawk (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 31st, 2015

    We’re in hell.”

    The Blu-ray cover for Bone Tomahawk features a grizzled Kurt Russell donning a cowboy hat. That image immediately indicated to me that I would be in steady, exceedingly capable hands for the forthcoming Western adventure. What I didn’t necessarily expect was for Bone Tomahawk to also deliver one of the more frightening, engrossing, and pulse-pounding movie-watching experiences of the year.
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    The Legend of the Lone Ranger (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 20th, 2015

    Who is that masked man?”

    That’s actually a loaded question when it comes the famously troubled 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger. It obviously refers to the masked former Texas Ranger who battles outlaws in the Old West, but it also applies to star Klinton Spilsbury, who never made a movie after this one. The question could also be a nod to the producers of this film suing actor Clayton Moore — who famously played the Lone Ranger on TV and film in the 1950s — to prevent him from appearing as his signature character in public. Unfortunately, none of that fascinating information is included (or even hinted at) on this bare bones Blu-ray.
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    Slow West

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 9th, 2015

    There’s a moment about halfway through Slow West where the two main characters partake in some absinthe. What follows is a disquietingly vivid dream and our two “heroes” essentially wobbling around until sobering up the next morning.The sequence is actually a pretty perfect encapsulation of what it feels like to watch Slow West, a woozy and refreshingly off-center entry into the Western canon.
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    How the West Was Won: The Complete Second Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 16th, 2014

    The West — once a land of awesome but tranquil beauty — had become a battleground for a hundred diverse reasons.”

    The “second” season of How the West Was Won — and I’ll explain in a bit why the word “second” deserves to be in quotation marks — does a strong job dramatizing the myriad dangers of the Old West. This batch of episodes showcases vengeful gunfighters, greedy gold prospectors, a taxing cattle drive, and the tenuous relationship between frontiersmen and Native Americans. Of course, at the center of it all is one particularly intrepid clan.
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    McLintock! – Authentic Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on May 27th, 2014

    by Eric Mitchell

    G.W. McLintock (John Wayne, True Grit, Rooster Cogburn) made most of his money by being a cattle baron. He made so much money, in fact, that the film’s fictional town was named after him. How cool is that? But all is not milk and honey in McLintock’s life. He has an estranged wife who does not live with him (Quiet Man co star Maureen O’Hara), and now wants a divorce
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    Sheriff of Contention

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 14th, 2014

    When it comes to the very worst movies I’ve ever seen, I admit that I grade on a curve. Filmmakers working with extremely limited resources get more of a pass from me. This certainly appears to be the case with Sheriff of Contention, a low-budget Western/serial killer mystery. Unfortunately, there’s only so much amateurish acting and technical mishaps I can overlook. Everyone knows that if you can’t say something nice, you’re not supposed to say anything at all. In a related story, this might end up being one of my shorter reviews.
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    Sweetwater (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 30th, 2013

    “Violence is never the answer.”

    That statement is said unironically by a character in Sweetwater, but we know better; in the movies, violence is pretty much always the answer. This is especially true when it comes to the revenge genre which, the films of Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding, is largely a man’s game. (Risk-averse Hollywood studios are much less likely to greenlight WoMan on Fire.) This bloody, straightforward Western from twin filmmakers Logan and Noah Miller is not terribly original, but it does try to put its own spin on the hallowed tradition of cinematic payback.
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    Gunsmoke – The Ninth Season Volumes 1 & 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on August 2nd, 2013

    I’ll say this about a program that has remained  consistent in quality for twenty seasons…it makes for challenging reviews. Talking about each season of Gunsmoke is difficult in that you either write briefly to try to avoid redundancies, but might seem too hasty, or you have to labour over each episode, in which case, you’re only going to have hardcore fans paying attention. Since this website has touched on previous seasons: ( http://upcomingdiscs.com/?s=gunsmoke ) I shall opt for the former option, and hope y’all out there catch that I’m not being hasty…but respect a show that warrants no fresh complaints after 9 years a-runnin’ thus far.
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    Love Me Tender (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 29th, 2013

    Elvis Presley was easily one of the most impactful pop culture icons of the 20th century during his life, and that status has barely waned in the decades after his death. (Or “alleged death”, given the number of Elvis sightings each year.) Presley obviously made his most lasting mark in the world of rock and roll music (and fashion), but he also had a surprisingly fruitful film career. Though none of his movies turned out to be cinematic masterpieces and no one was confusing him with Marlon Brando, The King brought his charismatic presence to more than 30 movies between 1956 and 1969. He was 21 when he made his film debut in Love Me Tender.
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    How the West Was Won: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 8th, 2013

    “The 1860s was a decade in which one of the most terrible civil wars in history was to begin and end. But far from the bloody fields of Gettysburg and Shiloh, changes — which were to alter forever the face of the American West — had already begun.”

    And that pioneering spirit continued to capture the American public’s imagination 100 years later. The Western was the big boy on the block during the 1950s and ‘60s on both television — peaking in 1959, which saw 26 such shows air in prime time — and in the movies. How the West Was Won — starring John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck, among others — is one of the more enduring titles from that era.
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    In Old Arizona (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 13th, 2013

    For a significant part of the last century, the Western was the dominant form of entertainment, ruling the Hollywood roost on both the big and small screen. Some of moviedom’s most iconic sounds — galloping horses, trusty six shooters, Ennio Morricone’s best work, “In this world, there’s two kinds of people: those with loaded guns and those who dig” — have come from the genre. And it all started In Old Arizona.
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    Rawhide: The Sixth Season – Volume 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on June 9th, 2013

    For 8 long seasons Rawhide followed the adventures of a cattle drive. Season 6 was separated into two releases. Here we shall look at what Part Two has to offer. Feel free to browse previous releases covered by Gino on this same site: http://upcomingdiscs.com/?s=rawhide
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    Rawhide: The Sixth Season – Volume 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on June 9th, 2013

    For 8 long seasons Rawhide followed the adventures of a cattle drive. Season 6 was separated into two releases. Here we shall look at what Part One has to offer. Feel free to browse previous releases covered by Gino on this same site: http://upcomingdiscs.com/?s=rawhide
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    Gunsmoke – The Seventh Season Volume One

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on December 11th, 2012

    I’ll say this about a program that has remained  consistent in quality for twenty seasons…it makes for challenging reviews. Talking about each season of Gunsmoke is difficult in that you either write briefly to try to avoid redundancies, but might seem too hasty, or you have to labour over each episode, in which case, you’re only going to have hardcore fans paying attention. Since this website has touched on previous seasons: ( http://upcomingdiscs.com/?s=gunsmoke ) I shall opt for the former option, and hope y’all out there catch that I’m not being hasty…but respect a show that warrants no fresh complaints after 7 years a-runnin’ thus far.
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    The Virginian – Complete Season Six

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 18th, 2012

    The changes in the 6th season of The Virginian were not intentional, to be sure. They were the direct result of a real-life tragic event. Actor Charles Bickford who was playing John Granger became ill. He was temporarily replaced by John McIntire, who joined the cast as his brother Clay. Clay and his wife Holly, played by McIntire’s real-life wife Jeanette Nolan, were looking after the ranch while John was out of town. Bickford continued in the credits, but was not fated to return. His illness lead to his death, and the characters of Clay and Holly remained
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    Gunsmoke – The Sixth Season Volume 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on August 2nd, 2012

    I’ll say this about a program that has remained  consistant in quality for twenty seasons…it makes for challenging reviews. Talking about each season of Gunsmoke is difficult in that you either write briefly to try to avoid redundancies, but might seem too hasty, or you have to labour over each episode, in which case, you’re only going to have hardcore fans paying attention.
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    Hondo (Blu Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on June 18th, 2012

    There are countless John Wayne Westerns in existence, but a hearty handful stand out above the rest. Hondo is a part of said handful. The story is a somewhat familiar one; that of a lone gunman seeking redemption by helping out a young woman fight off Indians…it just howls “John Wayne Western.” That being said, there are some standout performances and the portrayal of Native Americans is tad more progressive than what was within Westerns of the previous decade.
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    Hell On Wheels – The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 6th, 2012

    “Make no mistake. Blood will be spilled. Lives will be lost. Fortunes will be made. Men will be ruined. There will be betrayal and scandal and perfidy of epic proportions.”

    With a statement like that, how can you not want to check out AMC’s newest drama series Hell On Wheels? I’ve been told the title sounds like it’s about motorcycle gangs, and I couldn’t agree more. The term refers to the mobile tent city that housed the workers on the Union Pacific Railroad and the support entourage the camp attracted. It was a virtual tent city that had all of the essentials: a church, bar, and whorehouse.
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