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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The King and Four Queens [Blu-ray]


(Raoul Walsh, 1956)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Russ-Field Productions

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:24:01.244

Disc Size: 24,635,630,564 bytes

Feature Size: 23,775,277,056 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.00 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 24th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1790 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1790 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, None



• Trailer (2:47)





Description: Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind) stars as Dan Kehoe, a smooth-talking con man in hot pursuit of a gold fortune in the Raoul Walsh (White Heat) directed The King and Four Queens. Seeking the spoils of a heist gone bad by the McDade brothers, Dan sets about romancing each of their wives (Eleanor Parker, The Sound of Music; Jean Willes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Barbara Nichols, Pal Joey; and Sara Shane, Magnificent Obsession) in hopes that one of them knows where the gold is hidden. Jealousy among the women soon turns them against one another as they pursue the less-than-scrupulous Dan, all under the watchful eye of their quick-on-the-trigger mother-in-law Ma McDade (Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden). Written for the screen by Richard Alan Simmons and Margaret Fitts (based on a story by Fitts), The King and Four Queens, filmed in CinemaScope by the renowned Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch) features a rousing score by Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire).



The Film:

The King and Four Queens was the first (and last) project from Clark Gable's own production company, GABCO. Gable stars as Western fugitive Dan Kehoe, who hides out in a small ghost town. Here he whiles away his time with the town's only inhabitants: Ma MacDade (Jo Van Fleet), matriarch of the outlaw McDade family, and the four wives (Eleanor Parker, Jean Willes, Barbara Nichols, and Sara Shane) of Mrs. McDade's gunslinging sons. Three of the four McDade boys are dead; the fourth is expected to return at any minute with the loot from a recent stagecoach robbery. Since no one knows which of the McDades is dead, all four wives make a play for the bemused Kehoe; he in turn responds to their advances, hoping to get a share of the gold. The fur really begins to fly when it turns out that one of the wives is a phony who intends to double-cross the other three and ride off into the sunset with Kehoe. When The King and Four Queens proved a box-office disappointment, Clark Gable gave up the notion of producing his own films and returned to freelancing at the major studios.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

By the mid-1950s, Eleanor Parker had costarred with many of Hollywood's most famous leading men, including Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, Robert Taylor, William Holden and Frank Sinatra. She would recall, however, being especially excited at the prospect of acting in The King and Four Queens (1956) opposite Clark Gable: "I was a real fan."

In this lighthearted United Artists Western directed by Raoul Walsh, Gable plays a dashing desperado who wanders into a ghost town called Wagon Mound, where a crusty, rifle-toting matriarch (Jo Van Fleet) watches over her four man-hungry daughters-in-law. It seems that, two years earlier, three of the old woman's sons had died in a fire (although no one knows which three) after stealing and hiding a fortune in gold. Sizing up the situation, Gable uses his manly charms to wheedle information from the ladies about the whereabouts of the treasure.

Parker plays the most cynical and shrewd of the daughters-in-law, a fiery redhead described by Gable as "tougher than Wang leather, smarter than spit and colder than January." Jean Willes is a sultry Mexican, Barbara Nichols a dumb-blonde dancer, and Sara Shane a prim young thing. The chemistry Parker shares with Gable makes it easy enough to predict that she's the one who will share his final ride into the sunset.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The King and Four Queens arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered abut has a max'ed out bitrate and looks very impressive - kudos to Lucien Ballard's cinematography (The Killing, A Kiss Before Dying, Prince Valiant etc.) and California, Snow Canyon, Utah, and Window Rock, Arizona vistas. It looks reasonably crisp, rich colors and the visuals are pleasing in-motion. The overall quality, in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, is also reasonably clean and consistent without detrimental flaws. More power, again, to the film, but the 1080P Blu-ray looks quite strong and supplies a better-than-average HD presentation.



















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1790 (24-bit) 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 (The Wonderful Country, 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 (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Only a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.



The King and Four Queens is interesting from the standpoint that it reminded me of Clint Eastwood's The Beguiled. Great performances (Fleet a standout as she always is) and it's quite a beautiful film. The bare-bones Blu-ray is fine, but remains bare-bones and I wouldn't say it was a top flight western although I quasi-enjoyed it. It's probably most suitable to fans of the era and Gable. To each his own. 

Gary Tooze

May 19th, 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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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

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Gary W. Tooze






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