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The Hurricane [Blu-ray]
(John Ford, 1937)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 21,793,140,431 bytes
Feature Size: 21,190,944,768 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.91 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: November 24th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1571 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1571 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride
• Trailer (2:35)
Description:Newly re-mastered in HD! The Hurricane is one of the most spectacular productions of the 1930s directed by the legendary John Ford (The Searchers). An intolerant Governor (Raymond Massey, Things to Come) sets off a series of tragic events in an idyllic Pacific paradise, disrupting the peaceful lives of newlywed islanders Terangi (John Hall, Arabian Nights) and Marama (Dorothy Lamour, Johnny Apollo). Terangi is wrongly imprisoned by racist officials and after many failed escape attempts, additional years are added to original his six month jail term. Terangi finally succeeds and returns to Marama after a long absence, but only to be confronted with one of the most savage natural disasters to ever hit the island. The devastating hurricane was created by special effects wizard, James Basevi (San Francisco), who used enormous wind machines along with elaborate network of pipes and holding tanks to destroy the native village he had built. Ford acknowledged that assistant director Stuart Heisler (The Glass Key) was the driving force behind The Hurricane, and together they created a highly enjoyable film that stands as a landmark of Hollywood disaster films. The amazing cast includes Mary Astor, C. Aubrey Smith, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine and Jerome Cowan.
Framed in a flashback related by doctor Thomas Mitchell, The Hurricane is in essence the story of a struggle between individual freedom and colonial oppression. Jon Hall plays Terangi, a tempestuous native of the French-controlled island of Manakoora. After marrying childhood sweetheart Marama (Dorothy Lamour, saronged as usual), Terangi takes a job on a ship. While docked in Tahiti, Teragni is goaded into a fight by a white man - an offense punishable by a stiff prison term. French governor DeLaage (Raymond Massey) has nothing personal against the native, but he is dedicated to upholding the strict letter of the law. Even the appeals made on behalf of Terangi by doctor Mitchell, priest C. Aubrey Smith, ship's captain Jerome Cowan and the governor's own wife (Mary Astor) fail to weaken DeLaage's resolve to do his duty. Thus begins a chain of events that entangles the freedom-loving Terangi in the impenetrable web of white "justice". Time and again Terangi escapes from prison, only to be recaptured and sentenced to longer and longer terms. Finally managing to make his way back to Manakoora -- and killing a prison guard in the process -- Terangi continues to be doggedly pursued by DeLaage. Just as Terangi is about to sail off to parts unknown in an outrigger canoe with Marama and their child, the hurricane begins. At the risk of his own life, and his freedom, Terangi rescue DeLaage's wife and several other storm refugees. Largely the handiwork of art director James Basevi, the hurricane of The Hurricane was not directed by the film's official helmsman John Ford, but by an uncredited Stuart Heisler -- a fact readily acknowledged by Ford. Adapted by Dudley Nichols and Oliver H. P. Garrett from a novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, The Hurricane was poorly remade in 1979 with Jason Robards and Mia Farrow in the Raymond Massey and Mary Astor roles.
A stunning big blowout; this South Seas spectacular from the great John
Ford is a rare perennial. The story is pretty much hooey with a dollop
of tropical glamour on top, but anyway, marvelously self-serving. The
beauteous Lamour is in love with barrel-chested Hall, whose hot temper
lands him in hot water with corrupt island governor Massey. There's a
fine assist from Astor, Mitchell, Cowan, Carradine, and Smith. Then the
hurricane comes--a real lulu--and steals everyone's thunder. These
scenes are terrifyingly spectacular, done on actual and miniature scales
so cleverly edited that it is next to impossible to discern where one
leaves off and the other takes over.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
John Ford's The Hurricane has joyfully arrived on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. It looks pretty sweet in 1080P. Contrast has pleasing layers and there is some impressive detail in the film's few close-ups. Grain textures are very apparent. There are some minor scratches, marks and speckles but overall the visuals must be considered to be a success. The majority of the film is naturally lit and comes across with excellent clarity. This looks far in advance of what I was anticipating. This Blu-ray gave me goose-bumps seeing it looking so 'effective' in HD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino Lorber use their usual DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1571 kbpsin the original English language. It is 16-bit. The effects (storm) and water, jungle and native noises sound flat but showing some depth but benefitting most is the score by the great Alfred Newman (The Diary of Anne Frank, Bus Stop, Blood and Sand, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Panic in the Streets, The Song of Bernadette etc. etc.) It sounds impressive - keeping in mind the age of production. It might have been a little tighter in 24-bit and linear PCM. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Kino give us an excellent audio commentary by film historian Joseph McBride (author of Searching For John Ford). He covers many details about the production, Ford, the performers... and it is an excellent dissertation. I can only assume this is new (2015) as I don't recall hearing it before. In fact is this the first time the film is on proper digital? (I mean aside from PD or Korean analog transfers) There is also a trailer for The Hurricane.
October 13th, 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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