John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection

directed by William A. Wellman, John Sturges, John Farrow, Edwin L. Marin and Burt Kennedy
USA 1944 - 1974

     Tall in the Saddle     The Sea Chase       The Train Robbers     Blood Alley      McQ     

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video Boxset -  Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

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Distribution Warner -  Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC
Audio English (Dolby Digital original), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0) NOTE: No French DUB in Tall in the Saddle or Blood Alley
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Tall in the Saddle - 1.33:1, The Sea Chase - 2.46:1, The Train Robbers 2.40:1, Blood Alley 2.51 and McQ in 2.38:1

Edition Details:
• Black & White, Box set
• 5 Erroly Flynn classic films all with commentary:
Tall in the Saddle
The Sea Chase
The Train Robbers
Blood Alley
McQ

• See individual DVDs for more details
• Number of discs: 5

DVD Release Date:
May 3rd, 2005
Cardboard Box with 5 Keep Cases

 

Comments:

With a lot of John Wayne's films already on DVD this is a quite a patchwork of some of the remaining ones. They have no link excepting they star the "Duke" and are, of course, being released by Warner. None of the films would be considered to be his best (see Red River, Rio Bravo or The Cowboys - one of his best performances!) but there are no real flops either. John Wayne was a strong cinematic presence and has a devout following who will be pleased to see these releases on DVD. Many will be thrilled at the adherence to the extreme wide ratios of 2.46:1, 2.40:1, 2.38 and Blood Alley in 2.51:1 !

 

These DVDs are encoded for Regions 1 - 4 NTSC. The quality varies a bit and I have decided to make individual comments about each DVD below. The extras are a little weaker than in previous Warner boxset editions. No commentaries and only featurettes in Blood Alley and McQ. All have the extensive John Wayne trailer gallery.  "Tall in the Saddle" , "The Train Robbers" and "Blood Alley" have no French DUB option where the other three releases do. Subtitles are excellent as is the consistency of the original audio. 

 

NOTE: Buying the boxset outright is still the best way of saving as opposed to buying separately. Purchasing the entire set gives you 1.5 extras DVDs over buying individually.

 

 Good job Warner ! out of     

Gary W. Tooze


 

directed by Edwin L. Marin

USA 1944

 

What do you think of when you think of John Wayne? The pigeontoed swagger? The squinty gaze? The slow vocal delivery? All were born in Tall in the Saddle, a film that put Wayne in Sedona -- even if he never set foot here on the shoot.
John Wayne, the man, was born in Winterset, Iowa, in 1907, but you might make a case that "John Wayne," the cultural icon, was born in Sedona in 1944.

While "the Duke" cemented his stardom in John Ford's classic 1939 western Stagecoach, it wasn't until Tall in the Saddle, shot partially on location here, that many of the character traits and mannerisms we now commonly associate with the actor -- the deliberate, pigeontoed gait; the squinty-eyed gaze; the measured speech -- were seen by movie audiences for the first time, all against a backdrop of Sedona's landmarks.

Oddly enough, Wayne himself may not have seen Sedona's red rocks until he watched the movie. Tall in the Saddle pioneered a technique that allowed editors to realistically splice scenes Wayne shot in a Hollywood studio with exteriors filmed in Sedona. Moviegoers might have sworn the actor was standing in the Southwestern sun, but in truth he never crossed the California border.

And while John Wayne was hardly synonymous with feminism, Tall in the Saddle is also notable for providing the blueprint of a staple of Wayne's westerns for years to come -- the strong, independent woman who digs in her heels as a rival until romantic sparks fly. Of course, while the film makes no bones about the smarts and self-sufficiency of the female lead character, played by Ella Raines, it wasn't above exploiting her beauty, either -- the film's advertising prominently featured cowgirl Raines wearing a sexy hot pants outfit (see right). Apart from not being very practical for ranch work, it's a costume you never see Raines wear in the film.

Excerpt from the Sedona Monthly Online located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release:  September 29th, 1944 - USA

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Runtime 1:27:06
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.69 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 22

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments:

 

Very good image quality here. Sharp, excellent contrast and film grain peeking through. The oldest film of the boxset but one of the better transfers. No extras save the "Trailer Gallery". Great 16X9 menus. A nice innocent western. out of     



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directed by John farrow

USA 1959

 

John Wayne plays a "good" German in this World War II movie. The jacket cover makes excellent use of the film's original advertising artwork. The movie fits on one platter, but runs a full two hours, so that by the time it is over you really feel like you sat through a minor epic. The CinemaScope picture has been letterboxed with an aspect ratio of about 2.25:1. At times the image looks squeezed and at other times so much of the top and the bottom of the picture are on view that flaws on the sides of the image flash by at regular intervals. The color transfer is rich, though the image has some speckling and scattered lapses in intensity. If it were a highly regarded classic, the transfer might seem sloppy, but for a film of little renown, the disc is gorgeous. The stereo surround track is also imperfect, but super. Although there are volume dropouts and other minor flaws, the movie has an old-fashioned sound mix that is full of enjoyable separation effects, well worth amplifying past the point of distortion. The movie is as strange as they come. Wayne portrays the captain of a German merchant marine vessel caught in an Australian harbor at war's outbreak. He sneaks out, and is dogged all the way back home by British destroyers. Also aboard is a spy fleeing the British, played by Lana Turner, and although the captain dislikes her immensely, they're making out before the side break.

Excerpt from Doug Pratt's DVDLaser.com review located HERE  

 

Posters

Theatrical Release:  June 4th, 1955 - USA

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Runtime 1:56:56
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.27 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 31

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments:

 

This transfer shows some marks and damage although colors are excellent. It can be a bit hazy at times, but I adore the widescreen ratio. Nicely appointed menus and subtitles but only the "Trailer Gallery" again as an extra.  out of  



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directed by Burt Kennedy

USA 1973

The Train Robbers is a late film of the Duke's, but it is still an entertaining one. Directed by Burt Kennedy, the story follows a strong, proud widow, Mrs. Lowe (Ann-Margret), who employs Lane (John Wayne) to escort her to a cache of hidden gold that is said to have belonged to her recently deceased husband. Joining Lane are a couple of old compadres tagging along for effect. Director Kennedy chooses to remove many visual excess from camera's frame - a good choice - almost Bressonian. It simplifies the content giving more closeness to the under-expressive characters. Although not the purity of a John Ford or Howard Hawks western, this still has some redeeming qualities and a valued viewing experience for the genre fan in you.    

 

Posters

Theatrical Release:  February 7th, 1973

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Runtime 1:31:42
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.40 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 24

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments:

 

Very nice transfer - sharp - vibrant colors - one of the best looking images of the boxset. Nicely appointed menus and subtitles - 2 featurettes ("The Wayne Train" and "Working with a Western Legend") as well as the "Trailer Gallery".  out of     



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directed by William A. Wellman

USA 1955

 

(aka "William A. Wellman's Blood Alley ')

 

The opening scene has Capt. Wilder (John Wayne) burning his mattress in a Chinese hoosegow, drunk, and reading a letter he pulls from his pocket. He clamors for a new mattress, and one is brought in containing, to his surprise, a pistol and a Red Army officer's uniform, with which he makes his escape. Next he's wearing the uniform down in the fishing village dominated by the fortress of his incarceration. It fits him very well, exactly like the Soviet Army officer's uniform the waiter (Oskar Homolka) draws from his serving cart in Ken Russell's Billion Dollar Brain.

A village elder named Tao (Paul Fix) prevails upon Capt. Wilder to carry the villagers by steamboat to freedom in Hong Kong. En route, the captain must contend with agents among the passengers, an incendiary revolt in the engine room, and an attack on the bridge (filmed silently by Wellman from outside in a storm). Lauren Bacall gives his bloodied face a Veronica wipe as he stands at the helm.

They are nearly obliterated by a Chinese warship. The villagers pull the steamboat through high grasses on long ropes, up to their chins in the marsh. Capt. Wilder is moved by this sight, like something out of Exodus.

What it owes to Jet Pilot it repays to Firefox. An exciting voyage down the muddy, misty Chinese coast in a rickety steamboat only larger than the African Queen by a factor of CinemaScope, a hop, skip and a jump ahead of one mammoth Red frigate.

All of Wellman's vast art is put to depicting China viewed along the marge. Incredibly, this film was shot off the California seacoast, one of the most distinctive topographies you can name.

Excerpt from Christopher Mulrooney user comments on IMdb located HERE

 

Poster

Theatrical Release:  October 1st, 1955

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Runtime 1:55:04
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.17 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 39

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments:

 

Unfortunately the worst transfer of the Boxset. Very hazy at times and either a shade saturated or dull and pasty. A shame because this was an anticipated film on DVD. Two 'filler' shorts that are more-or-less unrelated to the film. Super widescreen ratio but overall a disappointment. out of  



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directed by John Sturges

USA 1974

 

McQ, the story of a tough cop, is delightful change of pace from the typical John Wayne movie. Gone are the endless Western vistas, the tumbleweeds, the trail dust, and the saloon brawls, replaced by a business suit, a Firebird 400, and a S&W 44 Magnum. The original choice for Dirty Harry, Wayne turned the role down, later proving he had what it takes by playing tough cop Lon McQ in this entertaining film.

Set in Seattle, McQ is the story of a drug deal gone bad. It opens with a mysterious series of hits performed by a guy who turns out to be a cop. Then the cop is hit himself… It turns out the rogue was none other than McQ’s partner, out moonlighting. Police Captain Kosterman (Eddie Albert) orders McQ to stay away from the case, so McQ resigns from the force. Kosterman believes it’s radicals and McQ believes it’s organized crime. It turns out they are both wrong…

Wayne is very believable as an aging detective who has had a few hard knocks and yet remains a decent guy. There is none of Dirty Harry’s viciousness in Wayne’s McQ; still he means business and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Wayne’s romantic scenes with the lovely Diana Muldaur and Colleen Dewhurst have sincerity stamped all over them and there is no doubt in my mind he was going to get the girl.

The cast was well-chosen and the supporting players including Eddie Albert, Clu Gulager, David Huddleston, and Al Lettieri were superb and played far better than the average detective cast. Colleen Dewhurst, always a favorite, and Diana Muldaur did wonderfully as the leading ladies. Finally, Roger C. Moseley (Magnum PI) did a bang-up job as a flashy pimp – one of McQ’s stool pigeons.

Director John Sturges did a fine job of putting the Lawrence Roman story on celluloid. It is a tribute to Sturges’ directorial ability that all the performances were believable and contributed to the story, unlike many of the throwaway scenes so often seen in typical detective movies. As always, the Elmer Bernstein score is impeccable, lending a sense of urgency to McQ’s quest to find out what happened to the dope and who killed his friend.

Excerpt from EOpinions.com located HERE.

 

 

Poster

Theatrical Release:  February 6th, 1974

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Runtime 1:51:08
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.4 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Chapters : 28

Bitrate:

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Comments:

 

Very sharp transfer! One of Wayne's last films its more recent production values show through with very clear image (reminding me somewhat of a television broadcast transfer). I saw a few scratches but it appears this has had no digital tampering (bravo!) and could be quite dark at times. The short featurette, "McQ: John Wayne in Action" is in horrendous condition - virtually unwatchable _ I am surprised Warner included it although it appears that they struggled to obtain some decent extras for this boxset.  out of  



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