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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Wake of the Red Witch [Blu-ray]

 

(Edward Ludwig, 1948)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Republic Pictures

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:47:00.414

Disc Size: 21,072,419,907 bytes

Feature Size: 20,953,829,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.98 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 23rd, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 839 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 839 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Director Edward Ludwig (The Fighting Seabees) and his star John Wayne (Big Jim McLain) teamed up again in this thrilling high seas adventure as Wayne battles enemies above and below the waves - including a giant killer octopus. Wake of the Red Witch pits the tough-minded Captain Ralls (Wayne) against the treacherous Captain Sidneye (Luther Adler) in a bitter rivalry on a mysterious Island. At stake is a fortune in pearls hidden in an undercover cave, at risk is the hand of the beautiful Angelique (Gail Russell), the daughter of the tyrant ruler of the Island who plans to marry her off to Sidneye. One year before, Russell and Wayne appeared together in the classic western, Angel and the Badman. Gig Young (City That Never Sleeps) plays Sam Rosen, a young sailor in love with Sidneye's beautiful niece, Teleia Van Schreeven (Adele Mara).

 

 

The Film:

No one can say that Republic has exercised caution or restraint in making a motion picture of Garland Roark's popular "Wake of the Red Witch." Everything in this wild screen version of Mr. Roark's lusty sea-adventure tale bespeaks the audacity of a studio that has been grinding out thrillers for years. And likewise, everything in it, now visible on the Mayfair's screen, bespeaks a magnificent indifference to the demands of illusion or good sense.

Right from the start of this fable of a four- or five-year-long feud between a fabulous South Pacific tyrant and a headstrong captain of sailing ships, the ballast of reason and continuity is casually tossed overboard. A gold-carrying ship is grounded, a captain is hauled into court, an expedition embarks for a pearl island—and then we flash back for several years. A castaway sailor is picked up from a shark-infested sea, a romance is hotly enkindled, a daring hero locks grips with a giant squid. There are witchcraft and tribal orgies, intrigues for gold and for pearls—and, in the end, there's a submarine shipwreck of a ship that is already sunk!

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

This unusual, dreamlike John Wayne vehicle is set in the East Indies. The focus of the film is the deadly rivalry between two men of the sea. Ship's captain Rails (John Wayne) nurses a long-standing grudge against shipping magnate Van Schreeven (Luther Adler). The reason for the animosity: Van Schreeven stole away Rails' love, Angelique (Gail Russell). Revenge has warped Rails to point that sometimes he seems to be the heavy of the picture. Complications involving valuable pearls ensue before the offbeat climax, which finds Rails scuttling his own vessel, the Red Witch, as means of getting even. The film's resolution is one of the strangest ever concocted for a Wayne picture. Wake of the Red Witch represented the second screen teaming of John Wayne and Gail Russell; the film must also have held some special significance for Wayne, since he named his own production company, Batjac, after the shipping firm depicted in the picture.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

Wake of the Red Witch gets a Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. It can tend to look quite thick and heavy in 1080P. This is, predictably, single-layered and contrast looks true to the source, if not producing crisp visuals. The image quality is consistent, clean with a few speckles and some nice texture. I would suspect that this a close approximation of how Wake of the Red Witch looked theatrically as I don't see evidence of fluctuations in the density of the print. As usual the Blu-ray significantly improved the presentation over an SD rendering and added that much-desired film-like appearance.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is in the form of a DTS-HD Master mono track at 839 kbps. The score by Nathan Scott (The Red Menace) has some emphasis with depth - and there are sea-faring effects that come through clean and clear - if flat. Also played in the film is Chopin's Nocturne sounding delightful.  There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

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

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I think Wake of the Red Witch is a good adventure film. John Wayne took the name of his production company, 'Batjac', from this film's shipping firm. In his character shows a dissimilar dark side and you can see quite a strong range in his performance.  I found the narration a bit odd. The Olive Blu-ray seems to do the job exporting an authentic-to-theatrical presentation as far as I can determine. I enjoyed the film as a very positive side-step from The Duke's other movies. 

Gary Tooze

April 19th, 2013

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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