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(aka 'They Called Him Hondo')

Directed by John Farrow
USA 1953

 

Often considered John Wayne's best and most memorable film. The character is Hondo Lane (which later spawned a television series) is a quiet loner who attempts to save rancher Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page) and her son, Johnny 'Small Warrior' Lowe, from Apache Indian attacks as they make a stand and refuse to leave their homestead. Much of the film is in the character of Hondo, another that cursory glances never give Wayne the acting credit he deserved. Easily cited as an essential western - quite violent in parts and a little epic it even has an intermission!  out of      

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 27th, 1953

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Comparison:

Paramount Home Video  - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  - LEFT

2) Paramount - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

Distribution Paramount Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Paramount Home Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:23:51  1:24:04.706  
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.88 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 35,716,260,414 bytes

Feature: 30,018,299,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.91 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1) , English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1971 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1971 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 598 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 598 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video 

Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Leonard Maltin, Frank Thompson (western historian) and Lee Aaker
• A Special Introduction by Leonard Maltin
• The Making of Hondo
• Profile: James Edward Grant
• The Apache
• The John Wayne Stock Company: Ward Bond
• From the Batjac Vaults
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Batjac Teaser
• Photo Gallery

DVD Release Date: October 11th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 13

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video 

Aspect Ratio:
1.78:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 35,716,260,414 bytes

Feature: 30,018,299,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.91 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Leonard Maltin, Frank Thompson (western historian) and Lee Aaker
• A Special Introduction by Leonard Maltin
• The Making of Hondo
• The Apache (14:51)
• From the Batjac Vaults (2:28)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (2:51)
• Photo Gallery

Blu-ray Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Standard
Blu-ray Case inside cardboard slipcase
Chapters: 13

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Paramount - Region FREE Blu-ray - May 2012: Advertised as 'first time in widescreen' we get a 1080P transfer of the classic western Hondo in a bastardized 1.78:1 rendering where we lose information on the top and bottom on the Open Matte and gain on the side edges. As with the SD image - there are some inconsistencies - which I would guess is mostly a factor of the source. The soft scenes of the DVD remain. There may be a touch of unsavory smearing here and there - but not the edge-enhancement halos of the SD. The Blu-ray has more pale/faded colors that I would guess are more accurate but I can't state with any authority. With 'The Duke' in a knife fight with an Indian brave we have the 3-D moments - that are generally more impacting in the high resolution - without the full 'glasses' effect. Vintage 3-D films which were preserved with some degree of care were DIAL M FOR MURDER and KISS ME KATE; most of the others, such as HOUSE OF WAX, were very faded.

Robert from the 3-D Film Archive sent us in email: "I just read your review of HONDO. It premiered on November 24, 1953 and went into wide release in December of that year.

The film was shot with the Warner Bros. All-Media camera rig and was composed for 1.85:1. Like most early widescreen films, it was also protected for 1.37:1 Academy ratio for smaller theaters.

Major theaters began installing new screens in the summer of 1953. A 12/5/53 survey of 16,753 operating indoor domestic theaters showed that 80% of downtown theaters and 69% of neighborhood theaters had installed widescreens. In total, 58% of all U.S. theaters had gone widescreen by the end of 1953. The conversion was slow in the Southern and North central parts of the country and that's why the films were still protected for the standard Academy ratio.
" (Thanks Robert!)

Also, the majority of 3-D color features from the 1950's were photographed on standard Eastman color stock and most were printed by Technicolor. The stock would not be any more prone to fading than Eastman color stock utilized on a standard flat film from that era."

Regarding the intermission card, MW tells us in email "HONDO, as were nearly all of the 3-D films of its time, was projected from 2 separate film reels running in interlock, one for the left and one for the right image. The longest reels of the time would only give the projector about one hour of running time, thus the intermission so the projectors could be reloaded. I think that including the intermission card was silly. When HONDO was run in 2-D, there was no break." (thanks!)

Audio is lossless with choices for a 5.1 bump or a modest, but accurate, mono (plus foreign language DUBs). The Hugo Friedhofer and Emil Newman score sounds solid. There are optional subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.

Most of the extras from the DVD are ported over including the commentary but we lose a couple - the Profile: James Edward Grant + The John Wayne Stock Company: Ward Bond.

Despite the inconsistencies - the film is such a fabulous western - to own it in widescreen (I know, I know) and in 1080P makes the offered price seem a very easy choice.

***

ON THE DVD: Let me tell you, this is an amazing DVD for the money... stupendous actually. The image has some minor flaws; some contrast fluctuations and a little inconsistency in shadow detail, one noticeable vertical scratch at one point but the colors are quite striking and the image has some edge-enhanced sharpness. One of the problems with HONDO was that it was one of the original productions done in 3-D; as with most of the 3-D films, the color processing was erratic (it was not in Technicolor, but in some alternative process) and the colors were faded even in the negative. So a full color restoration had to occur before the film could be reissued.

The extras seem to go on and on - commentary, introduction, featurettes, teasers, trailers, photo gallery etc. I only briefly listed to the 5.1 never being a big fan of these usually irrelevant bumps, but it did have some resonance if possibly a bit echo-ey, although we, of course, recommend the mono track. Hard to believe this film is over 50 years old and I applaud Paramount's pricing - $10 makes this a clear must-own DVD.  out of  

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Recommended Reading for Western Genre Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

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Distribution Paramount Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Paramount Home Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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