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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Ramrod [Blu-ray]

 

(André De Toth, 1947)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Paramount

Video: Olive Films / Arrow (UK)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:35:08.703 / 1:34:44.220  

Disc Size: 18,737,050,322 bytes / 42,947,151,772 bytes

Feature Size: 18,642,450,432 bytes / 28,195,209,024 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps / 34.83 Mbps

Chapters: 8 / 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent BD case

Release date: November 20th, 2012 / March 5th, 2018

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 833 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 833 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps
'In Conversation' audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps

 

Subtitles:

None  / English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• None

 

Audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
Andre DeToth in Conversation with Patrick Francis, far-reaching audio-only interview conducted by the documentary filmmaker (1:34:45 - plays to film)
Newly-filmed appreciation by expert on American genre films, Peter Stanfield (21:04)
Andre DeToth Interviewed at the National Film Theatre, a career-spanning archival interview from 1994, conducted by writer and broadcaster Kevin Jackson (47:30)
Gallery of original promotional images
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Danks, contemporary reviews and production stories

 

Bitrate:

1) Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: This western from legendary director Andre De Toth (House of Wax) was the first of several films based on the stories of western author Luke Short (Silver City). Western legend Joel McCrea (Ride the High Country) stars as a veteran cowhand Dave Nash, who's hired by Connie Dickason (Veronica Lake), a strong-willed daughter of Ben Dickason (Charles Ruggles), a ranch owner who has become the toady of a powerful local cattleman, Frank Ivey (Preston Foster), whom Ben once wanted Connie to marry. Connie has inherited a sheep ranch from her ex-husband and is determined to run the ranch with the help of her new Ramrod and his crew of anti-Ivey locals despite the opposition of Ivey and her father. The resulting bloody range war is much to the dismay of Dave, who wants to resolve Connie's problems with Ivey legally. The Stellar cast includes Dan DeFore, Donald Crisp, Arleen Whelan and Lloyd Bridges.

 

 

The Film:

Andre de Toth's bizarre Freudian western (1947, 94 min.) features Veronica Lake in drag and Joel McCrea as a fading phallic symbol (you thought the title was accidental?) performing a barely sublimated sadomasochistic ritual—she's a lady ranch owner who teams up with her foreman to put her chief competitor, her father, out of business. With Arleen Whelan, Preston Foster, and Charles Ruggles.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr at the Chicago Reader located HERE

This cowboy drama from Hungarian director Andre De Toth was the first of several films based on the stories of Western author Luke Short. Veronica Lake stars as Connie Dickason, strong-willed daughter of Ben Dickason (Charles Ruggles), a ranch owner who has become the toady of a powerful local cattleman, Frank Ivey (Preston Foster), whom Ben once wanted Connie to marry. Connie instead married a sheep rancher and inherited his spread. With her husband out of the picture, Connie becomes determined to run the ranch despite the opposition of Ivey and her father. In her camp are the town drunk, veteran cowhand Dave Nash (Joel McCrea) and a crew of anti-Ivey locals. The resulting bloody range war is much to the dismay of Dave, who wants to resolve Connie's problems with Ivey legally.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

Ramrod has a standard modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. It has a lot of light scratches and speckles throughout - the print is not in premium condition and there are quite a few inconsistencies but I appreciated the grain and the 1080P's more film-like qualities. This is only single-layered and I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. Detail has some pleasing moments in close-ups of Veronica Lake. The outdoor sequences show good contrast but there is no real depth. The Blu-ray is imperfect but gave me an acceptable presentation.

 

Short story is that the Arrow, on a dual-layered disc, has about 50% higher a bitrate than the Olive. It still has the same scratches and light marks but the grain is significantly better supported and the contrast is richer with darker black levels. No contest, the Arrow wins in the image quality.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Adolph Deutsch's score sounded very standard-western but had a bit of depth via the DTS-HD mono track at 833 kbps. There is no depth or range to speak of but it seems a faithful transfer with only some minor fluctuations.  There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Audio also gets a bump with the Arrow in a linear PCM mono track but at 24-bit. The score by Adolph Deutsch (The Apartment, The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra, Across the Pacific) sounds, authentically flat, but effective with minor depth in the uncompressed mono. Arrow add optional English (SDH) subtitles on their Region 'B' Blu-ray disc.   

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with their releases.

 

If the superior a/v were not enough - Arrow add a fabulous audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin who mentions many details including how John Ford passed on Ramrod, how DeToth desperately wanted to make a western (this his first) and how he altered genre conventions in Ramrod and how it was a Western moving to a Noir with the characters motivations, 'perversity' in the film etc. It's fabulous and escalates the value of this Blu-ray immensely. There is also an audio only Andre DeToth in Conversation with Patrick Francis, far-reaching audio-only interview conducted by the documentary filmmaker that plays to film. We get a newly-filmed appreciation by expert on American genre films, Peter Stanfield running over 21-minutes. and 47-minutes of Andre DeToth Interviewed at the National Film Theatre, a career-spanning archival interview from 1994, conducted by writer and broadcaster Kevin Jackson. He is great to listen to and generous with his response. Arrow also include a gallery of original promotional images and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips and for the first pressings an illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Danks, contemporary reviews and production stories.

 

Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The film's odd qualities actually make it more intriguing as a piece of western cinema. I like the performances and its a film that I may revisit - to probe its more subtle themes. The Blu-ray gave me the opportunity to see the film but its bare-bones status is disappointing.

 

Obviously the Arrow is the one to own and I can't extol the Martin commentary enough - I could easily listen 2 or 3 more times picking up further information. This is a unique western with mixed and varied themes and multiple conflicts. It's really quite fascinating... The Arrow Blu-ray is strongly recommended - great cover art too! 

Gary Tooze

November 15th, 2012

March 27th, 2018

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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