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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Wonderful Country [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Parrish, 1959)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: D.R.M. Productions

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:37:58.747

Disc Size: 23,116,718,689 bytes

Feature Size: 21,739,087,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.34 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 29th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1625 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1625 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, None

 

Extras:

• Trailers for The Wonderful Country (2:57), Man with the Gun (2:24) and Young Billy Young (2:16)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Having fled to Mexico many years before for killing his father's murderer, Martin Brady (Robert Mitchum, Man with the Gun) travels to Texas to broker an arms deal for his Mexican boss and Governor Castro (Pedro Armendariz, 3 Godfathers). Brady has an accident and the gun shipment he was returning to Mexico is stolen, complicating matters further is the wife (Julie London, Man of the West) of local army major Colton (Gary Merrill, All About Eve) who has designs on Brady and a local Texas Ranger captain (Albert Dekker, The Wild Bunch) who offers Brady a chance to join his outfit. But after killing a man in self-defense, Brady slips back over the border and is confronted by Castro who s unhappy that Brady has lost his guns, but may also join forces with Colton to battle the Apache Indians. Robert Parrish (A Town Called Hell) directed this action-packed western featuring a supporting cast that includes Jack Oakie, Charles McGraw, Anthony Caruso, John Banner, Mike Kellin and Baseball Legend Leroy Satchel Paige.

 

 

The Film:

Although a mood of melancholy or worse pervades this excellent western, it remains an honest and hard-hitting look at the realistic adventures of Martin Brady (Robert Mitchum -- who produced). Brady fled to Mexico while still quite young in order to avoid prison in the U.S. -- he had killed his father's murderer. After years spent working as a gunman for a wealthy "padron," he hates white Americans but has to go north to get weapons. Once on the wrong side of the border, he gets into trouble with U.S. Army for not helping them hunt down Apaches. But the people he meets in a small town, one a European immigrant, begin to change his black-and-white view of the world. Meanwhile, he and Ellen Colton (Julie London), the unhappy wife of an army major, begin to fall in love. Several more adventures and a tragedy or two affect the unlikely couple's future -- ultimately for the better. Baseball hero "Satchel" Paige shows up in a cameo role, leading an Afro-American unit of the U.S. army. Mexican star Pedro Armendariz is Brady's boss, Governor Castro.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

There's something to be said for letting a project get out of hand when the result is as sympathetic as this. Bursting with characters, sub-plots, themes, symbols, the movie centres on Mitchum, a gringo pistolero operating South of the Border. Crossing the river (a recurring image) on a gun running mission, he painfully rediscovers the blessings and burdens of home and belonging. A German immigrant, an unhappy army wife and a troop of black cavalry reflect different aspects of his situation. Photographically and musically it's a continuous treat, though having the hero ride a horse called Lágrimas - Tears - was carrying portentousness too far. From a novel by the artist Tom Lea, who has a cameo as a barber.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Wonderful Country has some issues with the color - it may have to do with the registry or they may just be bleeding a little. I didn't find it fatal but I did notice it and others will as well.  There is some consistent and appealing texture but it does tend to look flat although this does improve as the film progresses. Colors may also have a pink or green-leaning but I didn't find this detracted from the cinematography or atmosphere. The many outdoor sequences do look bight and more appealing. The source is reasonably clean. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable, but unremarkable, viewing but, as I have said, there were issues although in-motion they appeared less negatively impacting. It is certainly superior to the 2012 MGM DVD.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1625 kbps does a competent job of exporting the film's effects in the form of gunfire and horses. The score is by the great Alex North (Man with the Gun, Under the Volcano, Viva Zapata, Spartacus, Man With the Gun, A Streetcar Named Desire and more) sounding crisp and clean. The lossless audio sounds strong. There are English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Trailers for The Wonderful Country, Man with the Gun and Young Billy Young.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Wonderful Country is a different type of western. It dwells on the mysterious anti-hero protagonist - a 'man without a country' and his unresponsive ways. He's a true western character speaking with actions than words, but is also a mercenary and willing to encourage a dalliance with the wife of an army commander. Yes folks, that is the great baseball pitching legend Satchel Paige!  The Kino Lorber Blu-ray may have some color issues but it did give me the opportunity to see the film in 1080P. I enjoyed the slow pace, brooding atmosphere, cinematography, Alex North score, and Mitchum - in a unique, under-appreciated, role. Recommended despite the video weakness. 

Gary Tooze

September 16th, 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.

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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