http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/wyler.htm
USA 19
40

 

Gary Cooper cemented his reputation as an icon of the Western screen in William Wyler's 1940 film The Westerner. He stars as Cole Hardin, a wandering horseman who is brought before the kangaroo court of the colorful but deadly Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan). Playing upon Bean's obsession with musical actress Lily Langtry, Hardin talks his way out of the hangman's noose, and strikes up a friendship with the hard-drinking, short-tempered, self-proclaimed "judge." Hardin soon learns that the territory is involved in violent range wars (a dispute between cattlemen and farmers over land rights) and lends his support to the homesteaders -- becoming attracted to Jane-Ellen Mathews (Doris Davenport), the daughter of an aging corn farmer (Fred Stone). But when Bean violates his word and allows the farmers' crops to be burned, Hardin has himself deputized and prepares for a final confrontation with the west Texas dictator.
[...]
Wyler and Toland made seven films together, including Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). At first their working relationship was strained. "I was in the habit of saying, 'Put the camera here with a forty-millimeter lens, move it to this way, pan over here, do this.'" remembered Wyler, "Well, he was not used to that. Making Westerns at MGM, I directed the camera work. I considered it part of my job. You don't do that with a man like Gregg Toland... He was an artist."

For Wyler, The Westerner was a homecoming of sorts. He had gotten his start as director by proving the speed (and quality) at which he could churn out two-reel Westerns -- a total of 21 between 1925 and 1927. In 1930 he abandoned the genre after The Storm, but would return to the American West a final time in 1958 with The Big Country.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 18th, 1940

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

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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 1:39:48 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.87 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), DUBs: French and Spanish (mono)
Subtitles English, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

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

 

Comments:

An HBO DVD came out (HERE) in September 1998, now out-of-print, and has been fetching exorbitant prices in the past few years.

The MGM DVD is how we suspected - competent and bare-bones. Considering the age of the film, and price of the DVD, it looks better than I would have anticipated. Contrast and detail are above-average and this is single-layered, progressive, and coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard. There are optional subtitles and mono DUBs - but there are, unfortunately, no extras.

I'm a big fan of William Wyler and owned the HBO edition (which I, of course, cannot find to compare). This is a decent DVD and very enjoyable early western. For this price it's an easy purchase in my opinion - one of Brennan's best performances.  

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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