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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon [Blu-ray]

 

(John Ford, 1948)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: RKO Radio Pictures

Video: IVC (Japan)  / Warner Archive Collection

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:43:52.142  / 1:43:40.088

Disc Size: 21,917,097,842 bytes / 31,207,763,861 bytes

Feature Size: 21,804,490,752 bytes / 30,336,141,312 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.92 Mbps / 34.92 Mbps

Chapters: 11 / 31

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case / Standard Blu-ray Case

Release date: April 8th, 2016 / June 7th, 2016

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1617 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1617 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

Japanese, none  

 

English (SDH), Spanish, French, none

 

Extras:
None

 

John Ford Home Movies (4:05)

Trailer (2:32)
 

Firstly, Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films says that they bought the rights to the RKO catalog for the countries outside France (thanks Julien!). It means that all the RKO films released by IVC have been mastered by Lobster Films and won't be sold in France. They do indeed start with the Lobster Films logo.

Our comments are similar to IVC's The Magnificent Ambersons Blu-ray.

We are excited about the forthcoming RKO Collection Blu-rays from Japan by IVC - Cat People, They Live by Night, Suspicion, The Fugitive, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wagon Master and Bringing Up Baby. We are well aware of Warner's statement:

"Distribution rights to RKO films in Japan were sold off years before we ended up owning that library. We have no knowledge of what is being released there. We can only state that it does not involve the use of our original elements"

Bitrate:

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Description: The second of John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy", She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is the only one of the three to be lensed in Technicolor. In an Oscar-calibre performance, 42-year old John Wayne plays sixtyish Cavalry Captain Nathan Brittles. In his last days before his compulsory retirement, Brittles must face the possibility of a full-scale attack from the Arapahos, fomented by the recent defeat of Custer and by double-dealing Indian agents. After a series of minor victories and major frustrations, Brittles decides to ride into the Arapaho camp, there to smoke a pipe of peace with his old friend, Chief Pony That Walks (Chief John Big Tree). Before he leaves, he is presented with his retirement present by his troops: a pocket watch, with the inscription "Lest We Forget" (Wayne's playing of this scene, barely holding back tears as he adjusts his spectacles to read the inscription, is one of his finest moments on film). Brittles is able to forestall an Indian attack, just in time for his official retirement. The film really ends here, but there are two more potential climaxes before the words THE END dissolve into view. The patchiness of the Frank Nugent/Lawrence Stallings screenplay (attributal to the fact that it is adapted from two different short stories) prevents She Wore a Yellow Ribbon from reaching the same lofty heights as the Ford/Wayne collaborations Fort Apache (1947) and Rio Grande (1949). The gratuitous offscreen narration of Irving Pichel is also rather distracting. Even so, Wayne's flawless performance, coupled with the supporting contributions of Ford's stock company (John Agar, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen et al) and the Academy Award-winning photography by Winston C. Hoch, automatically elevates She Wore a Yellow Ribbon to classic status.

 

 

The Film:

The second film in John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy" features John Wayne at his best and boasts some incredible, Oscar-winning Technicolor photography of Monument Valley. Capt. Nathan Brittles (Wayne) is a career officer in the US Cavalry marking the final days before his forced retirement from the service. In the wake of the massacre of Custer and the Seventh Cavalry, the local Indians are becoming agitated, and, worse, confident. Brittles is assigned to escort two women (Joanne Dru and Mildred Natwick) from the fort to the stagecoach stop at Sudrow's Wells, but the Indians are on the warpath and there is little chance now to evacuate the women from the area. Wayne gives one of the finest performances of his career here, in the first serious role Ford gave him. (Wayne himself later said that Ford never respected him as an actor until he made RED RIVER.) As Capt. Brittles--the character a full generation older than the actor--Wayne is at his most human, a man who has made the Army his whole life, even sacrificing the lives of his family to its service, and now having to watch his Army career end on a note of failure. The passing of time is the film's recurring theme, suggested as Brittles arrives late with his troops, is forced to retire because of his age, leaves a dance to speak to his dead wife; even the inscription on the watch the troopers give him, "Lest we forget," plays on this theme of time lost and recalled. Ford's main inspiration.

Excerpt from TVGuide located HERE

For in this big Technicolored Western Mr. Ford has superbly achieved a vast and composite illustration of all the legends of the frontier cavalryman. He has got the bold and dashing courage, the stout masculine sentiment, the grandeur of rear-guard heroism and the brash bravado of the barrack-room brawl. And, best of all, he has got the brilliant color and vivid detail of those legendary troops as they ranged through the silent "Indian country" and across the magnificent Western plains.

From the moment that Mr. Ford assembles the raw-boned troopers of Company C around the immortal guidon of the Seventh Cavalry at distant Fort Starke, thence to ride forth on perilous mission under Captain Nathan Brittles' firm command, the rifles are held at ready and the scouts are flanked wide on alert, for somewhere out there in the vast plains a Cheyenne dog-party is on the prowl. Custer is dead at the Little Big Horn, the buffalo herds are coming north and someone is making "big medicine" among the strangely emboldened Indian tribes. And Mr. Ford being the admirer of the cavalry that he is, you may be sure that a'plenty happens before the mission is brought to a close.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

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

I have the same major complaint with this HD presentation as the other recent RKO Collection IVC Blu-rays we have covered (The Thing From Another World, The Magnificent Ambersons, Suspicion , I Walked With a Zombie, Cat People (1942); the operative word being 'consistency'. While there are many sequences that look adequate - they are quite a few that are overly green, are damaged or are far too dark (see bottom captures). The IVC shows some minor rounded corners. Colors have some richness but still may underwhelm in comparison to their potential. Personally, I relish any opportunity to see the film again in a bone-fide transfer but this IVC does fall very short of my, hopeful, expectations for HD visuals. IVC and Lobster Films just don't have the best sources for these films - Warner does. You may judge for yourselves with the screen captures below.

 

The matched images below are presented without comment. I'd hate to be accused of 'stating the obvious'.

 

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

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

1) IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Japanese Blu-ray excessively dark... and green

 

 

Audio :

Typically flat, linear PCM mono track at 1536 kbps (16-bit) - that actually sounds pretty decent at times. As well as a score by  Like the video there are some inconsistencies and it could have done with being more robust (24-bit) although the flat-ness was accurate.  There are optional Japanese subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Warner use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1617 kbps (24-bit - as opposed to 16 on the IVC) and offer two lossy DUBs - in French and Spanish. Like the video the Warner is greatly improved over the Japanese transfer. The score is by Richard Hageman (Ford's Wagon Master, 3 Godfathers, Fort Apache etc.) and we get She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (over opening credits and sung by troopers), The Girl I Left Behind Me, O Bury Me Not On the Lone Prairie, Dixie (as sung by unidentified singer at funeral) etc. sounding much stronger than the IVC. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

No supplements at all.

 

While we, at least, get some extras here - it is solely inadequate considering the magnitude of the film. We get 4-minutes of John Ford Home Movies (in color) and a trailer. No discussion on the film or liner notes.

 

IVC (Japan) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

BOTTOM LINE:
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a masterpiece. This Blu-ray doesn't fall flat on its face but it's not up to the standard we would expect from this format. We recommend a 'pass' and hope that Warner come to the rescue soon with a real SE Blu-ray edition of this important and justifiably revered piece of iconic western cinema.

 

Not even close - the Warner Archive is light-years ahead with their Blu-ray release in terms of a/v and even extras. A must-own package despite the limited extras. A very strong recommendation!

Gary Tooze

April 17th, 2016

September 29th, 2016

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Warner Archive Blu-ray

Sound:

Warner Archive Blu-ray

Extras: Warner Archive Blu-ray

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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