A Trio of Treasures
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 06/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to 3 disc DVD set(Warner Bros) of "The John Wayne Collection" including "Stagecoach", "The Searchers", and "The Cowboys" ....
First things first...Thanks Warner Bros!...This John Wayne collection offers a great selection of not only some of the Duke's finest westerns, but is definitive of the American Westerns we have come to love. Spanning over 30 years, these three films, give us a good look at Wayne from his early years as a rising star, to the later years when this legend just awed us with his on screen presence. The selection of these three films is terrific. The wonderful stars, the masterful direction, the magnifcent cinematography, captivating storylines,fabulous music, all in one great DVD package is a real cinematic treat.
First up is "Stagecoach" from 1939. Wayne is a wanted man who is along for the ride with a group of passengers, each not only battling their own demons and prejudices, but the elements of the rugged terrain and Indian attacks as well. And what a group...it also stars Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, and Donald Meek. This one is directed by the great John Ford and the black and white cinemaptogrpahy of this journey is absolutley stunning. The DVD transfer of this 65 year old film is not as pristeen as some other B/W classic of the era, but certainly looks good. a few scratches here and there, a little flickering, but once you are involved with this film, you won't even notice. The Dolby Dig sound is very good, all the sounds of the old west clear and distinct. The DVD includes some production notes, seven trailers, and has subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
"The Searchers" from 1956 is up next. Do they come any better than this? The Duke is a war weary ex-confederate who becomes obsessed with hunting down the Comanche tribe who has massacred his family and kidnapped his young niece. We follow him for years as he will not let go of his mission or his beliefs. Wayne is amazing in this role as we see his hatred turn into humanity. This one is also from Director John Ford, and may just be his masterpiece. It is filmed in technicolor, and the stunning scenary may be viewed in the original widescreen, but also has the option of a standard version. It also stars Hollywood greats Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond and Natalie Wood. I thought this was the best transfer of the three(although not the newest). The picture was clean and clear with very good sound. There are a couple of documentary shorts included, made at the time of the shoot, one has a brief interview with Natalie Wood(glowing from her recent Oscar nomination for "Rebel Without A Cause"). It may be viewed in or with subtitles in English, French and Spanish, and it also contains some production notes.
From 1971, "The Cowboys" finds our guy as an aging rancher who must hire 11 young boys to help him on a 400 mile cattle drive.
He's tough and gruff, but really has a way with the kids,(only The Duke can cure a boy's stuttering in less than 2 minutes!), and soon finds himself acting as both trail boss and father to the group. The drive is rough for all and has the added suspense of some bad hombres led by Bruce Dern who are out to rustle The Duke's cattle. Wayne turns in a touching performance and if it was up to me, would have recieved an Oscar for this role. Dern is the baddest of the bad as he goes after our hero. The film is not short on talent, Directed by Mark Rydell, it includes Roscoe Lee Brown, a young A. Martinez, and a small but meaty part for the wonderful Colleen Dewhurst. A nice widescreen presentation, the picture and color were good but seemed just a little dated to me.The sound remastered in DD 5.1 is fabulous. There's a great documentary included. "The Breaking of Boys and The Making Of Men", talks about how the boys were selected, and how they trained for their parts. There are 13 (count em ..13) trailers of Wayne films from the 30's through the 70's, informative production notes, and has languages and subtitles in English and French.
One other note...the price is right for this set. Checking the prices individually, this is practically like buying 2 and getting one free.They each come in their own snap case and have an outer sleeve for the set.
A Trio of Treasures for fans of The Duke.
Go for it!...Happy Trails...Laurie
early John Wayne:
Shadow of the Eagle
His Private Secretary
Great American Western V.24, The