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(aka 'La Colline des potences')

Directed by Delmer Daves
USA 1959

Many stars saddled up and rode into Technicolor sunsets during the great Western revival of the 1950s, but only a few would be forever associated with the rugged individualists of the West. Among them are John Wayne, Randolph Scott and the start of The Hanging Tree, Gary Cooper. The story takes place in Skull Creek, an 1870s Montana gold camp. Dr. Joseph Frail (Cooper) arrives, setting out his shingle near the camp's boom-or-bust hubbub of adventurers, ladies of fortune, mountain men and just plain decent folks. As skilled with a six-gun as with a scalpel, Frail will need both. A tragic past shadows his days. The treachery of the mob clouds his future. A determined immigrant (Maria Schell), a shifty-eyed miner (Karl Malden) and a hellfire preacher (debuting George C. Scott) figure prominently in Frail's showdown with fate. Prominent, too, is the breathtaking countryside. Here the mountains are imposing. And a man alone looms ever taller.

***

Cooper turns in a classic performance as the Montana doctor with the big secret. When he comes to the aid of a young immigrant woman his past returns to haunt him. The melodrama is occasionally laid on a bit thick, but The Hanging Tree's questioning of whether breaking the law to do something right can ever be excusable is never a black and white affair. An above average western which doesn't go out of its way to offer easy solutions.

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 11th, 1959

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DVD Comparison:

Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC

Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL LEFT
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:43:04 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:47:12
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.93 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.92 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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

Bitrate: PAL

Bitrate: NTSC

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles French, None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: August 9th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Archive

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (2:46) 

DVD Release Date: August 16th, 2012

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

ADDITION- Warner Archive - September 2012 - Big improvement with this Warner Archive release. As well as the Technicolor colors being far bolder - this is now widescreen although slightly bastardized at 1.78:1 - marginally cropped (top and bottom) from the Open-matte transfer. It is dual-layered and anamorphic - a vastly superior representation. Steiner's score sounds uplifting in the standard Dolby. there are no subtitles but a trailer is offered as an extra. This is easily the best option for digital home viewing. Great western - go for it!

***

ON THE PAL EDITION: Progressive transfer here from Warner Europe - dual-layered (7.37 Gig), a strong bitrate and few artefacts. Colors are a very dull and washed and I see no apparent digital manipulations to correct the muddy colors of the print used. The film is fairly dark. Image quality is surprisingly sharp for a film this old. I am unsure of the correct aspect ratio but composition seems quite acceptable at 1.33:1 and the image is tight to the frame, but it is highly likely that they used the open matte negative - I can't imagine a major studio film being shown theatrically in 1960 at full frame. There are optional French subtitles and an optional French DUB to go along with the original mono English track. The English audio is weak and inconsistent and I fiddled with the volume several times during my viewing - gunshots very loud and dialogue very soft.

NOTE: Brian says the colors are about 20% of what they should be and concurs that the aspect ratio is incorrect. He is very adamant that this DVD it is not a very accurate representation of the film. In fact he calls it a 'travesty'.

No extras and I'm sad to see PAL DVDs adopting the forced 'Don't Steal' opening advertisement with that annoyingly loud music (kind of like the hypno-toad from Futurama). 

Gary Cooper is in perfect form and I really enjoyed this western - it reminded me of why I like westerns so much. Very interesting to see George C. Scott and Cooper square off... if only in a minor way! 

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

 

Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL LEFT
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT

 

 

 


Subtitle Sample (no subs on the Warner Archive)

 

Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL TOP
Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution Warner Home Vidéo / M6 Vidéo - Region 2 - PAL

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC




 

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