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The Missouri Breaks [Blu-ray]
(Arthur Penn, 1976)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: United Artists
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,831,279,778 bytes
Feature Size: 23,625,504,768 bytes
Video Bitrate: 21.92 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: December 9th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1690 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1690 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Trailer (1:47)
Description:In their only cinematic pairing, screen legends Marlon Brando (The Godfather) and Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) are a dynamic star combo who set the screens ablaze in this intense and startlingly realistic western classic from director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde). Montana Badlands rancher David Brazton is a self-made man, through years of tireless effort and determination; he has transformed his vast and rugged land into a thriving, prosperous empire. So when his livestock, fortune and family are threatened by a ruthless horse thief (Nicholson), Braxton takes matters into his own hands by hiring a sadistic bounty hunter (Brando) to track down the outlaw. Braxton intends to liberate the territory from crime, but what he initiates instead is a complex series of events that result in brutality and savagery far beyond anything he ever thought possible. Co-starring Randy Quaid (The Long Riders), Frederic Forrest (Hammett), John P. Ryan (Avenging Force) and Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas), scripted by Thomas McGuane (92 in the Shade) and shot throughout majestic Montana, the Missouri Break is every bit as powerful and affecting as its dynamic leading men.
A wonderfully quirky Western, brilliantly scripted by Thomas McGuane, which strips all the cute whimsy away from the Butch Cassidy theme (outlaws on the run from a relentless lawman), replacing it with a kind of pixillated terror. Playing the 'regulator' as a camp Buffalo Bill with an Irish accent, Brando makes his entrance playing peekaboo from behind his horse, and at one point even stalks his prey in a dress and poke bonnet. But he is also a legalised killer, expert with a rifle but preferring (as the flail of God) to use a harpoon shaped like a crucifix. And as his gloating sadism shades into hints of bizarre perversion when he dedicates a love song and a kiss to his horse, the tone gradually darkens to a kind of horror. It's one of the few truly major Westerns of the '70s, with a very clear vision of the historical role played by fear and violence in the taming of the wilderness.
A rancher, a rustler, and a regulator face off in Arthur Penn's eccentric western. As a cover for their horse thievery, a gang of Montana rustlers, led by the laid-back Tom Logan (Jack Nicholson), buys a small farm adjacent to the ranch of their latest target/nemesis, Braxton (John McLiam). When the gang leaves Tom on the farm and heads to Canada for another score, Tom takes a shine both to farming and Braxton's rebellious, strong-willed daughter, Jane (Kathleen Lloyd). The slightly loco Braxton, however, hires the psychopathic regulator Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando) to root out the rustlers. With a series of unorthodox methods (and costumes), Clayton hunts down Logan and his gang one by one, even after Braxton fires him, but Logan isn't about to let Clayton (or Braxton) make him obsolete .Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Missouri Breaks has made it to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The image, even at theatrical release, was never crisp and pristine. The film has always looked heavy and supports the director's style. Everything looks true - and occasionally soft - without exuberant colors or substantial depth. Contrast seems fine - but not exceptionally defining. SD would carry this off quite poorly and I expect the single-layered transfer at 1.85:1 is about as good as it will get for home viewing. It's not a presentation intended to 'Wow' you with eye candy but settle you into the characters and story. The Blu-ray seems to do that adeptly.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
John Williams (War Horse, The Fury, The Cowboys) does a fairly sedate score and it is presented in a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at a reasonable 1690 kbps. Audio is, at times, intentionally scattered adding to the atmosphere and it creates a realistic ambience for the film's vérité feel. There are some effects with depth via the lossless. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Only a trailer. Too bad as I think the film is worthy of some discussion - if only for the director's style and two big stars.
December 6th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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