(aka 'Harold Hecht's The Way West')

 

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
USA 1967

 

In his heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, director Andrew V. McLaglen had a consistently good eye for locations and a fine knack for attracting powerhouse casts. More often than not, these were the best things about his otherwise banal movies, and The Way West (1967) is no exception. Expertly photographed by William Clothier, who worked with McLaglen eleven times, the locations are indeed magnificent - Oregon has probably never looked better. And topping the cast are Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum and Richard Widmark. Yet these factors cannot overcome a weak script that tries to tell too many stories or direction which is at best uninspired.

McLaglen learned from such icons as John Ford and John Wayne when he served as assistant director on movies like The Quiet Man (1952) and The High and the Mighty (1954). In his own movies, which include Shenandoah (1965), The Rare Breed (1966) and The Undefeated (1969), McLaglen seemed to be trying hard for a Fordian effect, but he came close only in his landscape compositions (and his frequent use of Wayne). There's a lot more to Ford, of course, such as a complexity and depth of feeling to the characters, and a unique mixing of the personal and the mythic.

In The Way West, Kirk Douglas plays a widowed senator and Robert Mitchum a trail scout with failing eyesight who lead a wagon train of pioneers from Missouri to Oregon. The property certainly had a good pedigree - it was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by A.B. Guthrie, Jr., who had written the screenplays for Shane (1953) and The Kentuckian (1955) as well as the novel of The Big Sky (1952).

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 24th, 1967

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
May 12th, 2008 sees multiple Westerns coming to DVD, including:

The Big Trail (Raoul Walsh, 1930) 20th Century Fox, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [Blu-ray] (George Roy Hill,1969) 20th Century Fox, Day of the Outlaw (André De Toth, 1959) - United Artists, Fistful of Dynamite (Sergio Leone, 1971) - United Artists, Fox Classic Western Collection (Rawhide / The Gunfighter / Garden of Evil) - 20th Century Fox, The Gunfight at Dodge City (Joseph M. Newman, 1959) - United Artists, John Wayne: The Fox Westerns Collection (The Big Trail, North to Alaska, The Comancheros, The Undefeated) - 20th Century Fox, Man of the West (Anthony Mann, 1958) MGM, Man with the Gun (Richard Wilson, 1955) United Artists, Navajo Joe (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) MGM, The Way West (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1967) MGM and The Westerner (William Wyler, 1940) MGM

Runtime 2:01:52 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.53 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:

Audio English (mono or Stereo), DUBs: French and Spanish (mono)
Subtitles English, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: May 13th, 200
8
Keep Case
Chapters: 28

 

Comments:

Unlike the other more pragmatic DVD transfers released on this date from MGM this is dual-layered and it shows with a strong, high bitrate, anamorphic offering. Sky vistas, mountain scenery and vast open plains are impressive with hardly a hint of digital noise. Colors appear a shade SD-dull, but none-the-less the progressive transfer, coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard, is a winner. Along with a choice of English mono or 2.0 channel stereo, there are optional subtitles and two mono DUBs. Once again there are no supplements keeping the price very reasonable.

Despite the star-powered trio (Mitchum, Douglas, Widmark) this may be the least impressive western I've seen for the group of MGM editions simultaneously released in May. I concur that they are at their usual high standard, as is the cinematography and decent, if unremarkable, direction from McLaglen - the fault lies in a weak script never approaching the grandeur of the prize-winning novel. Fun to see a cutesy Sally Field and the performances do carry the film to some degree - it wasn't totally boring - but I definitely think it underachieves. Still, try and stop me seeing a western with this group for $10!  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
May 12th, 2008 sees multiple Westerns coming to DVD, including:

The Big Trail (Raoul Walsh, 1930) 20th Century Fox, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [Blu-ray] (George Roy Hill,1969) 20th Century Fox, Day of the Outlaw (André De Toth, 1959) - United Artists, Fistful of Dynamite (Sergio Leone, 1971) - United Artists, Fox Classic Western Collection (Rawhide / The Gunfighter / Garden of Evil) - 20th Century Fox, The Gunfight at Dodge City (Joseph M. Newman, 1959) - United Artists, John Wayne: The Fox Westerns Collection (The Big Trail, North to Alaska, The Comancheros, The Undefeated) - 20th Century Fox, Man of the West (Anthony Mann, 1958) MGM, Man with the Gun (Richard Wilson, 1955) United Artists, Navajo Joe (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) MGM, The Way West (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1967) MGM and The Westerner (William Wyler, 1940) MGM




 

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