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Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston are at their fierce finest in master Hollywood craftsman Anthony Mann’s crackling western melodrama The Furies. In 1870s New Mexico Territory, megalomaniacal widowed ranch owner T. C. Jeffords (Huston, in his final role) butts heads with his daughter, Vance (Stanwyck), a firebrand with serious daddy issues, over her dowry, choice of husband, and, finally, ownership of the land itself. Both sophisticated in its view of frontier settlement and ablaze with searing domestic drama, The Furies is a hidden treasure of American filmmaking, boasting Oscar™–nominated cinematography and vivid supporting turns from Judith Anderson, Wendell Corey, and Gilbert Roland.

***

A fraught, violent Freudianism stampedes through Charles Schnee's script (adapted from Niven Busch's novel) for Anthony Mann's intense Western - only his second stab at the genre which would bring out his very best qualities: his gritty treatment of physical and mental conflict, his classical intelligence and expressive use of landscape. In comparison, The Furies smacks of primitivism, its central feud between Stanwyck and her cattle baron father Walter Huston being both overwritten and underdeveloped. That said, these two performers are so compelling in their own right that Mann could get away with murder with them on the screen together.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 16th, 1950

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 435 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:49:00 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.29 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 (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring film historian Jim Kitses (Horizons West)
• The Movies: "Action Speaks Louder than Words," a 1967 television interview with director Anthony Mann (17:12)
• A rare, 1931 on-camera interview with Walter Huston, made for the movie theater series Intimate Interviews (8:56)
• New video interview with Nina Mann, daughter of Anthony Mann (17:28)
• Stills gallery of rare behind-the-scenes photos
• Theatrical trailer
• Booklet featuring a new essay by renowned critic Robin Wood and a 1957 Cahiers du cinéma interview with Mann, as well as a new printing of Niven Busch's original novel

DVD Release Date: June 24th, 200
8
Custom Case (see below)
Chapters: 24

 

Comments:

Although Criterion's The Thief of Bagdad, released prior to this one, does not have pictureboxing, The Furies indeed is transferred in a pictureboxed frame. Fans thought they had seen the last of this from Criterion, but it has returned (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Obviously, Criterion have not yet completely abandoned their policy of including a thick black border around the edge of the frame to counter overscan on production television sets. It elicits speculation that the process may have more to do with the accessible print quality utilized in the digitization than in the concern over cropping for CRT viewing.

The image transfer of The Furies is very good but I wouldn't say spectacular. Perhaps have been spoiled by Criterion's stellar work, but this doesn't look as good comparatively as Ace in the Hole, a film made only a year later. It's fairly clean and has moments of notable sharpness. Contrast is strong but there is some minor noise - looking akin to good grain. Outdoor sequences are bright and clear. The screen captures below should give you a decent idea of how this DVD looks. On my system, it honestly looked pretty impressive.

Audio is a consistent and unremarkable mono track. As with all Criterion transfers of the past few years it offers optional English subtitles (font size and color sample below).

Supplements are extensive with an audio commentary by film historian Jim Kitses (Horizons West). It's informative, but a bit slow and dry. It's evident he is reading from a prepared script rarely referencing the onscreen action simultaneous to his words. He focuses on the psychological aspects of the narrative, Mann's spatial style, deep focus and other interesting tidbits. He determines The Furies to be atypical Mann - a hybrid western and melodrama. There are very few gaps and overall it's good and I think he loosened up a bit as it progresses. Fans of Mann, or the western genre will definitely want to give it a spin.

There is 17 minute 1967 British television interview with Mann - a segment from the series The Movies entitled "Action Speaks Louder than Words". Next is a 9 minute rare, 1931 on-camera interview with Walter Huston, made for the movie theater series Intimate Interviews. Interview topics were determined by mail-in requests from audience members. Dorothy West was the interviewer. There is a 17 minute new video interview with Nina Mann, daughter of Anthony Mann. She says she gained an interest in her fathers films in 1998 when the American Cinemateque did a retrospective of his work - four weekends of his films back-to-back. She then saw him as an artist and not just her father. Rounding out the digital extras there is a stills gallery of rare behind-the-scenes photos (14) and a theatrical trailer. There are two liner books to the package - one featuring a new essay by renowned critic Robin Wood and a 1957 Cahiers du cinéma interview with Mann. There is also a new printing of Niven Busch's 265-page original novel which I look forward to indulging in soon.

Well, no one could keep me from a Criterion DVD of an Anthony Mann western with Barbara Stanwyck - especially with these supplements. It's quite a package and the film's unique qualities will intrigue most who view it. The psychological aspects may be heavy-handed at times but the instances when they are more subtly nuanced reflect its masterful status. Criterion maintain their high standards with this extensive boxset which I can't see disappointing anyone who decides to purchase it. No existing DVD production company would have done this better. Recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze

 


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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 435 - Region 1 - NTSC

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