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Directed by John Sturges
USA 1965

 

Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry) and Lee Remick (Days of Wine and Roses) star in The Hallelujah Trail, the widescreen comic western extravaganza directed by John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven) from a screenplay by John Gay (Separate Tables) based on the novel by Bill Gulick.

Under the watchful eye of its owner Frank Wallingham (Brian Keith, The McKenzie Break), the Wallingham Freighting Company is bound for Denver with forty wagons of whiskey to quench the town’s thirst. But there are others who have plans of their own for the load of libations including temperance leader Cora Templeton Massingale (Remick), who wants it destroyed, the Sioux Indians who want it for themselves, ditto the Denver citizens militia, as well as the Irish teamsters hired as wagon drivers. Fearing that the shipment may not reach its destination, Colonel Thaddeus Gearhart (Lancaster) assigns Captain Paul Slater (Jim Hutton; The Green Berets) to safeguard the cargo, unaware that Slater’s fiancée, Louise (Pamela Tiffin, Harper) – who also happens to be the Colonel’s daughter – has fallen under the powerful spell of Cora’s temperance message.

Rounding out the cast in this comic free-for-all are Donald Pleasence (Phenomena), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Dub Taylor (Bonnie and Clyde), John Anderson (Ride the High Country), Tom Stern (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) and Val Avery (Black Caesar).

The Hallelujah Trail was photographed in the Ultra Panavision 70 format by three-time Academy Award® winner Robert Surtees (King Solomon’s Mines – 1951, The Bad and the Beautiful – 1953, Ben-Hur – 1960), costumed by eight-time Academy Award® winner Edith Head (The Sting – 1974), with a rousing score by Academy Award® winner Elmer Bernstein (Best Music, Original Music Score, Thoroughly Modern Millie – 1968).

***

The Hallelujah Trail was an ambitious project from the very start. The story follows two cavalrymen (Burt Lancaster and Jim Hutton) as they escort a wagonload of whiskey to Denver while enduring Indian attacks, belligerent drunks, and a crusading temperance league led by Lee Remick. To Sturges, it was a Western composed of pure situational comedy elements, a form of filmmaking that he had not tackled previously, plus the scope of the picture was truly daunting, even for Sturges. The production alone totaled nearly 300 cast members and a myriad of crew members behind the camera.

Shot on location in Gallup, New Mexico, The Hallelujah Trail definitely had its share of behind-the-scenes crises. In Against Type: The Biography of Burt Lancaster by Gary Fishgall, second unit director Tim Zimmerman recalled that Gallup in the early sixties was "a truck stop on the old Route 66. It was a very rough town...There were a lot of bars, and everybody went to all of them, and everybody got into trouble." Some of that trouble spilled over to the set and it was reported that Lancaster did not get along with two of his co-stars, Brian Keith and Lee Remick. Another problem, according to actor Martin Landau, "was bad weather continually. The day would usually start beautifully, and then the afternoon storms would come up." Worst of all, a stuntman named Bill Williams was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a wagon while performing a stunt.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Posters

Broadcast: June 23rd, 1965

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Review:

Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

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Distribution Olive Films
Region
'A' Blu-ray
Runtime 2:35:20.811  
Video

Disc Size: 24,240,802,464 bytes

Feature Size: 23,602,477,056 bytes

Average Bitrate: 16.99 Mbps

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio English 2015 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2015 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Olive

 

Disc Size: 24,240,802,464 bytes

Feature Size: 23,602,477,056 bytes

Average Bitrate: 16.99 Mbps

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Trailer (2:10)

Blu-ray  Release Date: February 27th, 2018
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters: 8

 

Comments:

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

Olive's Blu-ray transfer is HD but looks quite poor. The, over 2.5 hour film, is transferred to a single-layered disc and hence has a puny, unsupportive, bitrate. This was shot in 70mm and is deserved of UHD - but this 1080P image is fraught with artifacts and inconsistencies that make it borderline unwatchable for discerning videophiles. It looks like an SD bump - it's that weak - although I don't believe it is. It may be the worst Blu-ray transfer of the early year.

NOTE There is an Overture, Intermission music - and the running time indicates this was the TCM print of the film.  

 

The audio transfer is in a linear DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel (24-bit) in the original English language. The 70MM presentations had a 6-Track audio so this is a lost opportunity. Elmer Bernstein (The Grifters, Birdman of Alcatraz, Love With the Proper Stranger, The Bride at Remagen, The Comancheros, The World of Henry Orient, Kings of the Sun, Hud, To Kill a Mockingbird, Summer and Smoke) did the score and it suits the epic western feel with some lighter, humor-filled, touches. There are optional, white subtitles, in shouting CAPITAL CASE font, on the Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

A true bare-bones disc with only a trailer as an extra.

 

This is star-packed, epic, adventure-western with some fun sequences and is deserved of a better digital presentation than this Olive Blu-ray offers. It also would benefit the package to have some extras. We say 'pass'.      

Gary Tooze

 

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Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution Olive Films
Region
'A' Blu-ray

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