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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

South of St. Louis [Blu-ray]

 

(Ray Enright, 1949)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: United States Pictures

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:27:58.273

Disc Size: 18,697,800,429 bytes

Feature Size: 18,587,160,576 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.02 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 23rd, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 886 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 886 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: During the Civil War, Kip Davis (Joel McCrea), Charlie Burns (Zachary Scott), and Lee Price (Douglas Kennedy), are run out of town by the guerilla raider and Union Army leader Luke Cottrell, who burns down their ranch. Though Kip's fiancee, Deb (Dorothy Malone) begs them to stay in the small Texas town of Edenton, the three ranch owners vow vengeance on the Cottrell and decide to head south to find him. When they get to Brownsville, Texas, Lee decides to join the Confederate Army, while Kip and Charlie attempt to rebuild Three Bell ranch. Before they do, however, they take on offer from an attractive local lounge singer, Rouge de Lisle (Alexis Smith), to transport a box of furniture for fifty dollars. It turns out, however, that the box is instead filled with an illegal shipment of firearms and Kip is subsequently arrested. Before he is punished, however, he is freed and is picked up by Rouge, who offers him a job gun-running for the Confederacy. He accepts the offer, hoping to get enough money smuggling to rebuild the ranch. The trio then hires a group of gunmen, one of which is Slim Hansen, who used to work for Cottrell, and heads to Matamoros, Mexico to pick up a shipment of guns for the Confederacy.

 

 

The Film:

Produced by Milton Sperling's United States Pictures, South of St. Louis was given a widespread release by Warner Bros. The story begins in the last days of the Civil War. Chased off their property by guerillas, ranching partners Kip Davis (Joel McCrea), Charlie Burns (Zachary Scott) and Lee Prince (Douglas Kennedy) head southward to seek out a new life. Davis and Burns go into the gun-running business, while Prince joins the Confederate Army. Kip and Charlie battle over the affections of saloon gal Rouge de Lisle (Alexis Smith), a turn of events that falls into the plans of rival gunrunner Luke Cottrell (Victor Jory). The three former friends soon find themselves enemies, and thereby hangs the plotline. Curiously, Dorothy Malone, cast as the "good" heroine, seems to be more worldly and cunning than hard-boiled temptress Alexis Smith. Originally filmed in Technicolor, South of St. Louis was for many years available only in its black-and-white, TV-print form.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

McCrea, Scott and Kennedy are partners in a Texan ranch burned out by 'Cottrell's Raiders' (a snarling Jory standing in for Quantrill) during the Civil War. Kennedy joins the Confederate army, while McCrea and Scott - balking at army discipline - are recruited by a saloon girl (Smith) for a profitable venture running munitions from Mexico through the Union blockades. Disillusioned by Scott's increasingly murderous lust for money, McCrea opts out and turns to drink after his girl (Malone) falls for Kennedy. When the war ends, Scott decides to consolidate his position by eliminating Kennedy, now a Texas Ranger; and McCrea is persuaded by Smith, who loves him, to retrieve his self-respect by helping Kennedy. Plenty of action, plus personable performances (McCrea especially).

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

South of St. Louis comes across initially as a standard western but intelligently evolves by heading down some unique avenues and is a surprisingly fulfilling film. The Olive Blu-ray transfer sports a gorgeous image - notable especially for the bright, and rich, colors. This is only single-layered but is clean with healthy textures and some occasional depth. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. Contrast is adept with some layering and detail is surprisingly strong for a film of 65-years of age. The Blu-ray is quite dynamic and the video presentation impressively appealing.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Olive opt for a DTS-HD Master mono track at a modest 886 kbps. It handles the film with authenticity including some depth in the gunplay. The western-themed score sounds fine in lossless and is by Max Steiner (Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, Bird of Paradise, Beyond the Forest, Pursued) and we have Alexis Smith performing 3 numbers (actually, all dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams); Too Much Love, It Must Be Fun to Have a Soldier and Yankee Doodle.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo 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 their releases.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I enjoyed this western. South of St. Louis takes a different take on the stereotypical, passive, cattle rancher we have seen so often characterized in this genre. And Alexis Smith is pretty easy on the eyes. The Blu-ray is a pleasure to view with the intense colors and overall rich appearance. Those curious should give this a chance - I was happily surprised at the film and presentation!

NOTE: At the writing of this review the price is significantly cheaper at Barnes and Noble. 

Gary Tooze

September 5th, 2014

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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