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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cowboy [Blu-ray]


(Delmar Daves, 1958)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Video: Twilight Time



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

Runtime: 1:31:57.136 

Disc Size: 26,303,174,214 bytes

Feature Size: 25,572,274,176 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1075 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1075 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated SCore:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1686 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1686 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2043 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2043 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), None



Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor, and Nick Redman
Isolated Score Track
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:47)

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

Limited to 3,000 Copies!





Description: Another Western foray from the inimitable Delmer Daves, Cowboy (1958) - based on a book by the adventurous Frank Harris - tells the tale of a young Chicago hotel clerk (Jack Lemmon) who heads out on a cattle drive under the strict tutelage of a tough veteran (Glenn Ford). Featuring wonderful character turns by the likes of Brian Donlevy, Dick York, Richard Jaeckel, and Strother Martin, the film is supported by a sweeping George Duning score, available on this Twilight Time release as an isolated track.



The Film:

The once-scandalous autobiography of Frank Harris was the source of the fascinating "adult" western Cowboy. Jack Lemmon plays Harris, who when first the audience meets him is a citified desk clerk in a frontier hotel. Harboring romantic notions of the West, Harris prevails upon hard-living, hard-drinking trail boss Tom Reece Glenn Ford to take him along on Reece's next cattle drive. In the months that follow, Harris' idealized notions of the West are cruelly dispelled, though he eventually becomes accustomed to the rough-and-tumble life on the trail and to the curious cameradie between the drovers. The film's most talked-about scene finds a group of cowboys planting a rattlesnake in one of their comrade's blankets as a joke; their regretful but oddly detached reaction when the bitten man dies speaks volumes about the Real West. Also memorable is the performance of Brian Donlevy as Doc Bender, an ageing gunfighter who can't stand the notion of becoming an anachronism. One of the more unorthodox westerns of the 1950s, Cowboy is also one of the best.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Likeable attempt to show what life was really like in the old West (ironically based on reminiscences by the notoriously mendacious Frank Harris), with Lemmon as the hotel clerk who joins a 2,000 mile cattle drive from Chicago to the Rio Grande in the 1870s. The episodic narrative, taking in an Indian attack, a Mexican fiesta and a cattle stampede, is more romantic than realistic; but it remains consistently atmospheric and enjoyable, with the striking use of landscape characteristic of Daves.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Cowboy comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray sneaking into dual-layered territory with a competent 1080P transfer with their usual high bitrate. The visuals are very film-like with pleasing grain textures, true, tight, colors and some occasional depth. Contrast has some decent layering and its quite a consistent presentation in-motion with no damage or speckles.  I see no evidence of manipulation or noise. This Blu-ray is transferred in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio (original 1.85:1) - and is probably as good as it will get for this appealing, adventurous, road-western.















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master mono track at 1075 kbps (24-bit) sounds clean with a few richer moments in pushing the film's western-centric effects (horses, cattle etc.). The score was composed by George Duning (The Man From Laramie, Two Rode Together, The Eddy Duchin Story, 3:10 to Yuma, Jeanne Eagels, The Shadow on the Window, Tight Spot, etc.) and sounds buoyant and supportive. There are also optional English (SDH) subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

Twilight Time add a new, impressive, audio commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor and Nick Redman who discuss the production, Delmar Daves, the genre and the performances among other topics. It's professional and educational. There is also the usual Isolated Score Track, and an original theatrical trailer. The package has some liner notes by Julie Kirgo and is limited to 3,000 copies.



Cowboy is a above average western. I was expecting it to be lighter and humorous with Lemmon - but I was wrong. Delmar Daves is one of the greats and this is a very enjoyable film in the western genre. I'll watch anything with Glenn Ford regardless.  The Twilight Time Blu-ray provides their usual excellent a/v transfer for the film and further value with the commentary, isolated score and liner notes. It's a solid package of a rewarding and entertaining western - certainly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

March 1st, 2016


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.

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Gary W. Tooze





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