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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The White Buffalo [Blu-ray]


(J. Lee Thompson, 1977)


Re-issued in June 2023 by Kino:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Dino De Laurentiis Company

Video: Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 1:37:22.503

Disc Size: 21,587,638,764 bytes

Feature Size: 21,133,449,216 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.78 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 28th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1577 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1577 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English, None



• Original Theatrical Trailer (1:51)





Description: Two of the West's most legendary figures search for the demon buffalo that haunts them both! They called him Wild Bill Hickok (Charles Bronson, Breakheart Pass), the prince of pistoleers, a frontier adventurer and killer of men now, in his last years, he's in an old gunfighter plagued by fears and driven by a need to make peace with himself. The White Buffalo is his constant nightmare; he must find the fabled beast and destroy it... before it destroys him. He was Crazy Horse (Will Sampson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), the greatest of all Sioux chiefs. A warrior of dignity and pride - now a father who searches for the legendary albino buffalo so that the spirit of his dead child can go to heaven and he will stop at nothing to obtain the sacred white pelt. J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone) directs this one-of-a-kind western that features a brilliant cast the includes Jack Warden (Billy Two Hats), Kim Novak (Picnic), Stuart Whitman (Shadows in an Empty Room), Slim Pickens (Blazing Saddles), John Carradine (The Sentinel) and western legend, Clint Walker (More Dead Than Alive).



The Film:

J. Lee Thompson directs Charles Bronson in this strange western variation on Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Bronson plays a man named James Otis, who is disturbed by dreams of a giant white buffalo. He returns to the west under his new name --Wild Bill Hickok. Amongst his travels, he meets Chief Crazy Horse (Will Sampson), who is roaming the plains in an obsessive search for the giant white buffalo that killed his young daughter. Chief Crazy Horse wants to slay the beast in revenge for his daughter's death, and Wild Bill Hickok teams up with him to hunt down the giant white buffalo.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Bronson plays Wild Bill Hickok, whose nemesis is the giant white buffalo of the title which haunts his nightmares. But the major struggle in the film is over whether it is a 'big' or 'small' picture. Biggest are: the buffalo, another Dino (King Kong) De Laurentiis presentation; the cast of mainly fading stars featured in cameo roles; and the self-consciously epic character names like Hickok, Crazy Horse and Custer. All of which suggests a thunderously empty yarn mounted around yet another mechanical gimmick. Yet Richard Sale's adaptation of his own novel hints at something more intimate. His Hickok is haunted, ageing, and diseased, trapped and uncertain in his own myth. Because of this, the movie occasionally takes an interesting turn, but less often than it should, because J Lee Thompson's direction clings to the increasing number of action set pieces with all the relief of a drowning man clutching a life raft.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

Much to the delight of Charles Bronson's fan-base, The White Buffalo has made it to Blu-ray from Kino-Lorber.  This 'western with a monster' looks decent enough in the single-layered transfer with supportive bitrate.  There is some thickness which seems authentic and plenty of textures. There are some sequences with depth - although colors may be shade flat - but I'm not complaining. It is transferred in the, marginally, bastardized 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I expect it looks like a solid replication of the film from almost 40 years ago but it is not particularly striking in 1080P. This Blu-ray provides a decent, consistent and watchable HD presentation but lacks any dynamic visual appeal.



















Audio :

Kino use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1577 kbps. There are some effects including the almost mechanical sound of the charging Buffalo. Gunshots have minor depth  but the biggest beneficiary of the lossless rendering is the score by the iconic John Barry (Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves and the Bond themes among his many credits) which helps the film's mysterious atmosphere. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.


Extras :

Only a trailer - which is a shame - because I'd love to hear some discussion on The White Buffalo - such a strange film in many respects.



I couldn't distinguish between The White Buffalo being earnest or parody. It seems delivered with total seriousness, but I was scratching my head frequently at the production. The buffalo effects themselves are quite weak. It's always in-motion with the same unrealistic head-bob and you never seen it clearly - almost like a creature-feature from the 50's. Perhaps the film had a modest budget. I love Bronson, the extravagant dialogue, and the storyline on this was so intriguing. I think the comparison to Moby Dick may be more accurate as the film delves into psychological manifestations of the three men hunting the beast. The Kino-Lorber Blu-ray offers a decent 1080P presentation of a fascinatingly odd film - but the bare-bones status will, again, lessen the value. Fans of the performers may wish to indulge or those keen on its campy, nostalgic, appeal. 

Gary Tooze

March 25th, 2015

Re-issued in June 2023 by Kino:



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