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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

North to Alaska [Blu-ray]


(Henry Hathaway, 1960)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox

Video: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation



Region: 'FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:02:02.315

Disc Size: 38,883,779,074 bytes

Feature Size: 37,452,896,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.98 Mbps

Chapters: 36

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 3rd, 2013



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2440 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 2440 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 4.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 1046 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1046 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio German 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1041 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1041 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
* DTS Audio Japanese 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese none



• Movietone news: Premiere of North to Alaska Besieged by B'Way Throngs (:50)

• Theatrical Trailer (3:00)





Description: John Wayne and Stewart Granger strike it rich in this rousing comedy-adventure set in the heyday of the Alaskan gold rush. When prospectors Sam McCord (Wayne) and George Pratt (Granger) hit the mother lode, George asks Sam to go to Seattle and fetch his sweetheart, Jennie, but she has already married someone else. Determined to bring George a new love, Sam invites a saloon dancer (Capucine) back to Nome as Jennie's replacement.



The Film:

Those familiar only with Johnny Horton's song hit North to Alaska might not be aware that the song came equipped with a movie. John Wayne and Stewart Granger star as a couple of lucky miners in Alaska Territory during the '98 gold rush. Since the Duke is the only man he can trust, Granger sends his pal to Seattle to fetch his fiancÚ. Fabian appears in the cast (playing Granger's brother) primarily to attract teenage filmgoers; he gets to sing, of course, but he's better than usual. The film's centerpiece, an outsized brawl in the muddy streets of Nome, was repeated with several variations in Wayne's subsequent McLintock (1963). North to Alaska was based on a considerably more genteel stage play, Laszlo Fodor's Birthday Gift.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

For here in this wildly romantic, vividly imagined color film, which the new producer, Ray Stark, delivered to the Music Hall yesterday, there is packaged the glowingest commercial for love conquering everything including the taint of prostitution, these old eyes have ever seen. Nothing, including social stigma, can keep Western boy and Eastern girl from walking off into the sunset in it, an absolute twining of the twain.

Whether this beautiful concept of an American would-be painter's falling in love with a yum-yum girl in Hong Kong may be taken as a likely document of what might reasonably happen in that area is something else again. John Patrick's screen play is based on the popular Broadway play of the same name, which was based on a Richard Mason novel. And that was a hard one to believe.

So it could be assumed—again, by skeptics—that what we have here is a tale so purely idealized in the telling that it wafts into the realm of sheer romance.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

North to Alaska arrives on Blu-ray from Fox.  The image has a definite earthy-brown hue but detail is strong. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate. Daylight scenes look great but the overall image is a tad glossy. This Blu-ray has a few less-consistent moments regarding color shifts but the contrast and black levels seem solid.  It's nice to see some depth exported by the higher resolution. I haven't seen the DVD but this is probably a notable upgrade. This Blu-ray probably looks like the original presentation of the film North To Alaska and it's hard to get too finicky over such an embraceable film.


















Audio :

North to Alaska originally had a 4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System) and Fox stay with that producing a DTS-HD Master 4.0 channel track at a reasonable 2440 kbps. It sounds quite good, surprising at times. Violence exports some depth and the seperations are evident. Lionel Newman (A Kiss Before Dying, The Proud Ones) and, uncredited, Cyril J. Mockridge's (Desk Set, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Dark Corner, My Darling Clementine, Nightmare Alley) score never seems to settle but benefits from the uncompressed transfer. There are foreign-language DUBs and subtitle options and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

Not much in the way of extras - I assume they duplicate the last DVD with a 50-second 'Movietone news' piece entitled Premiere of North to Alaska Besieged by B'Way Throngs and a theatrical trailer.



Cute Alaskan Gold Rush romance/adventure beginning and ending with a brawl. Really quite a lot of fun... and that Capucine is quite the honey! The Blu-ray has decent value and provides as a reasonable, if shy of stellar, 1080P presentation. This is a very enjoyable flic... but no masterpiece. The Duke's fan-base should indulge. 

Gary Tooze

November 27th, 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.

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

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Gary W. Tooze






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