|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Sam Peckinpah, 1978)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: EMI Films
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 38,506,887,571 bytes
Feature Size: 22,395,052,032 bytes
Video Bitrate: 21.96 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 28th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1699 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1699 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1559 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1559 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Commentary by film historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, and Nick Redman
• Passion and Poetry - Sam's Trucker Movie (1:13:02)
• TV and Radio Spots (1:01 + 3:16)
• Featurette promoting Convoy (5:35)
• Three Deleted Scenes (5:47)
• In-jokes, Friends and Cameos (5:59)
• Production Stills (3:13)
• Trucker Notes from Norway (3:14)
• Theatrical Trailer (3:47)
Description: When the Western film, for many decades the staple of the American cinema, suffered a decline in the Seventies, a new sub-species helped fill the void the trucking epic. The great Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) directed this action classic based on the runaway hit song, Convoy. Martin 'Rubber Duck' Penwald (Kris Kristofferson, Heaven's Gate) who, in pursuance of a feud with Sheriff Lyle 'Cottonmouth' Wallace (Ernest Borgnine, Marty), unites scores of his fellow-drivers via Citizen Band radio into a gigantic mile-long convoy which, powered by pent-up frustrations and resentments as much as by diesel-fuel, rolls irresistibly along the Arizona highways towards the freedom of the Mexican border. The stellar cast includes Ali MacGraw (The Getaway), Seymour Cassel (Opening Night) and Burt Young (The Killer Elite) as Bobby 'Love Machine' 'Pig Pen'.
The CB (citizen's band) radio fad had nearly run its course when this feel-good action film was made by director Sam Peckinpah. In the story, based on C.W. McCall's song "Convoy," a group of struggling truckers (who stay in touch by CB) run into a situation which ignites their indignation. They arrange to form a truck convoy under the leadership of the man whose CB nickname is "Rubber Duck" (Kris Kristofferson). He is the most aggrieved of the bunch, having been harassed beyond the point of endurance by Lyle Wallace (Ernest Borgnine) a blackmailing traffic cop who pursues him ever more frantically through several states after he fails to submit to the phony speed trap he had set up. As news of the truck convoy spreads, unexpected allies join the line, and the now-gigantic illegal protest becomes the subject of national news reports.
Taking CW McCall's hit single as starting-point, scriptwriter Bill Norton (director of Cisco Pike) makes Rubber Duck (Kristofferson) a populist hero of the classic Hollywood kind, leading a group of heavy truckers in their war of independence waged on the highways of America; and Peckinpah's direction places the film in the tongue-in-cheek comic vein of his own earlier Ballad of Cable Hogue. Its blatant and impossible artifice is also completely in keeping with Peckinpah's pessimistic streak. Police cars, trucks and bars are destroyed in balletic slow-motion, but none of the characters appears to get hurt (and no one dies - even when you think they do). The narrative goes a bit over the top in the second half, but it's after a large dose of the best kind of escapist good humour.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The good ol'boy favorite Convoy has made it to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The image is imperfect, at the mercy of the original production, but a wide step beyond the flat, artifact-ridden, and questionable colors of the old DVD from Cheezy Flicks Entertainment - available in 2003. This is dual-layered (because of the extensive extras) with a modest bitrate but it may be as good as the film has ever looked on digital but we will compare to the Region B version from Optimum (UK) one day. There is a tightness and depth in the 1080P rendering - skin tones look authentic. The title sequence is picture-boxed. Overall it looks quite acceptable in-motion. This Blu-ray offers a superior video presentation without manipulation - one that fans of the film will greatly appreciate.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1699 kbps and the film's bountiful effects - including plenty of aggression are backed with solid depth.. Aside from the Chip Davis 'Convoy' score, there is plenty of country/western music including Crystal Gayle, Billie Jo Spears, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, Anne Murray, Billy 'Crash' Craddock and others. It sounds pretty good although I did note some tinnyi-ness in the high-end on some of the music - but that may be inherent. The dialogue is a bit scattered but that would be in-line with the original production. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Included is a new commentary by film historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, and Nick Redman. This is the same group that did the excellent commentary on Twilight Time's Blu-ray of Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia. Collectively, they sure know the director's work and bounce well off each other. It is well-worth the listen. An excellent supplement is the 1 1/4 hour Passion and Poetry - Sam's Trucker Movie. Mike Siegel's (The Ballad of Sam Peckinpah) 2013 documentary explores Peckinpah's biggest success at the box office, out-grossing even his 1972 hit The Getaway. It documents how the entertaining actioner that had turned out to be a commercial winner and a public favorite in fact had a very troubled production history. Many viewers and fans probably will be astonished when they learn about the full story of Convoy with interviews with Ernest Borgnine, Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw and others. We also get some TV and Radio Spots, a 5-minute featurette promoting Convoy, three deleted scenes - 6-minutes explaining some interesting Inside jokes of the film and cameos by Peckinpah's friends in the film. There are production stills, a brief testament from a Norwegian fan and a theatrical trailer.
April 25th, 2015
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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