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The Long Riders [Blu-ray]
(Water Hill, 1980)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: United Artists
Video: MGMHome Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 31,852,650,919 bytes
Feature Size: 30,962,927,616 bytes
Video Bitrate: 36.01 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: June 7th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2048 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2048 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)
DTS Audio French 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
DTS Audio German 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
DTS Audio Italian 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
DTS Audio Spanish 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB
English (SDH), Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, none
• Trailer (2:25 in 1080P)
Description: The origins, exploits and the ultimate fate of the Jesse James gang is told in a sympathetic portrayal of the bank robbers made up of brothers who begin their legendary bank raids because of revenge.
The hook in Walter Hill's mythic retelling of the James-Younger outlaw legend is in the casting; the James, Younger, Miller, and Ford Brothers are played by a string of acting brothers, the Keachs, the Carradines, the Quaids and the Guests. The film begins as outlaws are robbing a bank. After the robbery, Ed Miller (Dennis Quaid) finds himself kicked out of the gang for needlessly killing a man during the robbery. Jesse James (James Keach) hands over Ed's share of the money and tells him to leave, a feeling held mutually by Ed's brother Clell (Randy Quaid). After the killing the gang decides to split up for awhile. The James boys return to their wives and farms, while Cole Younger (David Carradine) travels to Texas with his prostitute girlfriend Belle Starr (Pamela Reed). After the brief respite, the gang reunites to rob a well-stocked bank in Northfield, Minnesota. The robbery turns out disastrously, with most of the gang either wounded or dying. The James boys are the only ones not seriously hurt, and they leave the rest of the gang behind, escaping while they can. After the James boys leave, the remnants of the gang are captured. But trailing the Jameses is a relentless posse. Frank and Jesse manage to keep one step ahead until the Ford brothers (Christopher Guest and Nicholas Guest) make a deal with the Pinkerton detectives trailing the outlaws.
~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide
Hill's film holds its head high in a distinguished company of movies about the Jesse James/Cole Younger gang, refusing to bother too much about historical facts or psychological motivation, instead serving up a potted commentary on the conventions of the genre itself. Concentrating on familiar rituals - the funeral, the hoe-down, the robbery (a stunning tour de force in slow motion) - Hill pays tribute to such directors as Ford, Hawks and Ray, emphasises the mythic aspects of the Western, and focuses on the subjects of kinship and the land (probably suggested by Scotsman Bill Bryden's screenplay). This last theme is emphasised by Hill's coup of casting real-life brothers as the members of the gang. A beautiful, laconic and unsentimental film.
The legend of American outlaw Jesse James (1847-1882) is an enduring one, having inspired broadsheets, dime novels, literary treatises, stage plays, Broadway musicals, folk ballads, rock songs, hip-hop shout-outs, weekly TV series and films dating back to the silent era (at which time the legendary bank and train robber was played by his own adult son). Moviegoers who enjoyed Brad Pitt's smoldering turn as the doomed title character in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) might be interested to check out previous attempts at the history, particularly Henry King's Jesse James (1939) starring Tyrone Power (with brother Frank played by Henry Fonda, who rated his own Fritz Lang-directed sequel, The Return of Frank James ), the 1948 Republic Pictures serial Adventures of Frank and Jesse James starring former Lone Ranger Clayton Moore, Samuel Fuller's I Shot Jesse James (1949), the short-lived ABC series The Legend of Jesse James (1965-66) featuring James Dean look-alike Christopher Jones, the Psychotronic favorite Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966), Philip Kaufman's revisionist The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972), in which Robert Duvall (eight years older than Jesse was at the time of his murder) plays the part for its weight in unrepentant bastardy, and Walter Hill's The Long Riders (1980), which delves deeper than most depictions of the mythos to tie the principals (Jesse and Frank James, Cole Younger and his brothers, the Miller boys, Bob and Charlie Ford) to their extended families, going the extra step to cast brothers as brothers.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Long Riders is a good western but the Blu-ray has some inconsistencies. The image can be quite striking at times but in other parts of the film is flat and lifeless. I am not blaming the transfer as it may be related more to the source or stock used (some 80's stock was less effective). It is dual-layered with a high-bitrate. The Missouri landscapes is impressive with tight colors and decent contrast. Mostly shot outdoors with plenty of daylight scenes produce a pleasing earthy brown image for the most part. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt much more could be done. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film The Long Riders - it is clean (a few very minor speckles). The budget was probably not huge and Hill did the best with what he had.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
It's a decent DTS-HD Master stereo track at 2048 kbps. There are plenty of instances expressing the film's depth. There is plenty of action and over the top 'Walter Hill' violence but without surround separations (not even stereo - very mono!) it is still aurally effective. Ry Cooder's score works very well and sounds pretty darn good too via uncompressed. There are plenty of subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Nothing but an HD trailer. Another bare-bones MGM Blu-ray that is offered at a reasonable price.
June 3rd, 2011