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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Rio Grande [Blu-ray]


(John Ford, 1950)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Republic Pictures

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:30.323

Disc Size: 18,767,067,959 bytes

Feature Size: 17,370,617,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 7th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 848 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 848 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)






The Making of Rio Grande (21:15 in 480i)

Theatrical Trailer (1:34 in 480i)





Description: In the John Ford (The Quiet Man) classic, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara (First of five films together) are embroiled in an epic battle with the Apaches and each other. Wayne leads his Calvary troops to the Rio Grande to fight a warring tribe. His toughest battle lies ahead when his unorthodox plan to outwit the elusive Apaches leads to a possible court-martial. Locked in a bloody war, he must fight not only to save his family, but also to redeem his honor. This was the third and final of the John Wayne/John Ford Cavalry films, which started with Fort Apache and was followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. The great supporting cast includes Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen and Chill Wills.



The Film:

John Wayne stars as Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, whose devotion to duty has cost him his marriage to his beloved Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara). Yorke gets word that his son, Jeff (Claude Jarman Jr.) -- whom he hasn't seen in 15 years -- has been dropped as a cadet from West Point, and that he lied about his age to enlist in the cavalry, in an effort to redeem himself. By chance, the boy is then assigned to his father's post. Once more, as a function of his duty as a cavalry officer, Yorke must sacrifice his love of family -- he cannot show any preferential treatment to the boy, or exhibit any sign of love and affection. But Jeff is too strong to be injured by his father's actions, and already enough of a man that he is befriended by two older recruits, troopers Tyree (Ben Johnson) and Boone (Harry Carey Jr.), who watch out for him while taking him in as a virtual equal. Yorke's resolve is further tested when his estranged wife, Kathleen, arrives at the post, the better to look after her son -- and possibly to buy back the boy's enlistment, which Yorke, as commanding officer in a remote post with a critical shortage of men, can't and won't permit. After an attack by the Apaches, Yorke orders the post's women and children to be moved to safety, and Jeff is assigned as part of the troop conducting the caravan, despite his wish to participate in the planned action against the Apaches. The caravan is attacked, and the wagon with the children is taken by the Apaches to their encampment in a deserted village across the Rio Grande in Mexico. Yorke has been given permission by General Sheridan (J. Carrol Naish) to take his men into Mexico in pursuit of the Apaches, but the punitive expedition is now a rescue mission, as the Indians' night-time vengeance dance is the prelude to certain slaughter of the children at daybreak. As part of the mission, it's up to Tyree, the slyest man in the troop, to infiltrate the enemy camp, and he chooses Jeff and Boone as the two men he wants with him on this dangerous mission.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Wayne's Captain York from Fort Apache has become a Colonel by the time Rio Grande closes the Ford cavalry trilogy, but is still much exercised by troubled notions of authority in both the mirrored families of home life (O'Hara and estranged son Jarman) and command (hamstrung by the inconveniently close Mexican border while keeping down marauding Apaches). A bit wordy, a bit plot-heavy, and with an unfortunate tendency to saccharine musical excess (the Sons of the Pioneers), it's fairly minor but still resonant Ford.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Rio Grande has a technically modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but contrast seems to hold up with adept layering - especially in the second half of the film. Black levels were rarely piercing though. 1080P detail can have some impressive scenes. The black marks I noted were one sequence of flickering contrast and there are some frame-specific scratch marks (see last capture). I'd consider neither disruptive. There is some texture to the visuals but there is no real depth. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and for the most part the image quality was pleasing.


















Minor scratch damage



Audio :

The DTS-HD Master in 1.0 channel mono at 848 kbps keeps with the modest roots of the film's audio. Nothing is dynamic but the music of Dale Evans and at least a 1/2 dozen songs by the Sons of the Pioneers as well as Victor Young's original score sound clean and very clear. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Olive offer a 21-minute documentary hosted by Leonard Maltin entitled The Making of Rio Grande (also found on the 2002 DVD) where some keen information is revealed about the production, Ford, Wayne, O'Hara and some of the other cast members. It is in 480i as is the included theatrical trailer.

NOTE: On the Menu is says 'The Making of High Noon' - but is the Rio Grande documentary.



Well it boils down to a strong Ford/Wayne western on Blu-ray. It's definitely a step up from SD and devout fans will quickly indulge. You have to gauge how serious a film devotee or fan of the genre. This is a near masterpiece and it gave me a solid presentation. I'm certainly glad I have it in my library.

Gary Tooze

July 12th, 2012

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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