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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Strange Incident')

directed by William A. Wellman
USA 19
43

In this classic Western, wanderers Gil Carter (Henry Fonda) and Art Croft (Henry Morgan) ride into a small Nevada town plagued by cattle thieves. Initially suspected of being the rustlers themselves, Carter and Croft eventually join a posse out to get the criminals, who also may be involved in a recent shooting. When the posse closes in on a group that could be the fugitives, they must decide on a course of action, with numerous lives hanging in the balance.

 

Great Westerns, like all genre films worth their salt, are meticulously structured, and they feature a pretty short list of archetypal characters. It's accepted wisdom that "the lone gunman" and "the stranger with a secret" belong to the Old West, but such conceits are often co-opted to drive other kinds of pictures. Taxi Driver (1976) and Star Wars (1977), for instance, are direct descendants of John Ford's masterpiece, The Searchers (1956), and scores of tough-cop movies feature nothing more than gunslingers who prowl the town cleaning up corruption, just like the mustached sheriff did all those years ago. You can sense the frontier in them, even if it's sometimes drenched in neon. William Wellman's claustrophobic Western, The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), on the other hand, actually seems to have inspired Sidney Lumet's courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men (1957)!

Excerpt of TCM's review located HERE

***

A sombre, somewhat simplistically liberal Western from a novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in which three drifters (Andrews, Quinn and Ford), lynched as rustlers on the flimsiest of evidence, are posthumously proven innocent by good guy Fonda (interestingly, the film's dynamics and characterisations can be seen to prefigure Twelve Angry Men). But for all the obviousness of its 'message' (which once made it seem a landmark in the genre), the movie is impressively taut, not merely because of Wellman's tersely economic pacing of his material, but because Fox's decision to cut costs by shooting it entirely on a studio set serves, ironically, to increase the mood of claustrophobic tension. Indeed, its affinity to film noir is evident not only in the dark shadowy photography, but in the gallery of grotesques that populates this decidedly uncelebratory portrait of the frontier spirit.

Excerpt of TimeOut's review located HERE

Poster, Comic Book and Video Cover

Theatrical Release: May 21st, 1943

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Comparison:

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

  

Distribution Fox Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Arrow- Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:15:24 1:15:28.982 1:15:30.150 1:15:27.189
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 15,299,987,620 bytes

Feature: 12,505,061,376 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 14.99 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,836,507,767 bytes

Feature: 19,219,986,432 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.31 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,861,922,867 bytes

Feature: 23,191,950,912 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: DVD

Bitrate: Koch Blu-ray

Bitrate: Kino Blu-ray

Bitrate: Arrow Blu-ray

Audio English 2.0 Stereo, English 1.0 Mono, Spanish 1.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio English 1757 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1757 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1789 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1789 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1791 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1791 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1566 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1566 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

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

Subtitles English, Spanish, None English, None None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Screen-specific audio commentary by Dick Etulain, and William Wellman Jr.
• Biography - Featurette "Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero" (44:58)
• Still gallery
• Theatrical trailer (2:12)

DVD Release Date: March 2nd, 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Koch Media
 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 15,299,987,620 bytes

Feature: 12,505,061,376 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 14.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

 Henry Fonda Hollywood Bio (45:03)
• Stills Gallery (1:59)

 Trailer (2:13)

Blu-ray Release Date: August 26th, 2011
Book-style
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 11

Release Information:
Studio: Kino Lorber
 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 30,836,507,767 bytes

Feature: 19,219,986,432 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.31 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

 Audio Commentary by Western Scholar Dick Eulain and William Wellman Jr.
 Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero" as seen on Biography on the A&E Network (44:51)
 2002 Restoration Comparison (2:52)
 Trailer Gallery (The Ox-Bow Incident - 2:15, Yellow Sky - 1:40, Man of the West - 3:01, Man With the Gun - 2:24)

Blu-ray Release Date: July 12th, 201
6
Standard Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 8

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow
 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,861,922,867 bytes

Feature: 23,191,950,912 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

 Audio commentary by American West historian Dick Etulain and William Wellman Jr
 Introduction by Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy (12:32)
 6 Scene-select commentaries by Stanfield (9:39 + 6:25 + 3:52 + 3:11 + 2:59 + 7:14 )
 Henry Fonda: Hollywood s Quiet Hero, a 45-minute documentary on the actor from the Biography series (45:01)
 Theatrical trailer (2:12)
 Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov
 Fully illustrated collector s booklet containing new writing by Nick Pinkerton

Blu-ray Release Date: July 4th, 2016
Transparent Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 7

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - July 16': In short the Arrow marginally improves upon the Kino Lorber. It has a slightly higher (max'ed out) bitrate and the image is a shade darker - which is probably more accurate. I doubt that most would be so picky - but there you have it (we've compared 4 captures below). Mono goes linear PCM mono (24-bit) and also advances a slim notch (24-bit over 16 - and 1.0 channel mono in uncompressed). the arrow also offers optional English subtitles. Extras have the same commentary and 'Biography' video piece but add an Introduction and 1/2 hour's worth of select scene commentary by Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy and the package sports a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov and has a fully illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing by Nick Pinkerton. Ohhh the Arrow also has a second disc DVD included.

Bottom line is that - while both Kino and Arrow Blu-rays are worth owning - Arrow sneaks ahead - as most might have anticipated. Finicky fans who can play region 'B' should get the Arrow - and those in region 'A' shouldn't feel overly slighted.

***

ADDITION: Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - June 16': This is from the new 4K digital restoration by Twentieth Century Fox (as will the Arrow in the UK) and it obviously surpasses the 2011 Koch from Germany. The US transfer is over double the German bitrate and the visuals are significantly (and accurately) darker, heavier and support some textures. It also tends to show more information in the frame. I presume that the UK Arrow rendering will equal or slightly advance upon Kino's solid image.

Hard to say between the audio tracks - both uncompressed and 16-bit supporting the excellent score by Cyril J. Mockridge (Thieves' Highway, Desk Set, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, My Darling Clementine, Nightmare Alley) and I might lean to the Kino for a crisper, more consistent, sound but only the Koch offers subtitles. The Kino Blu-ray is region 'A'-locked.

Kino include the older audio commentary by Western Scholar Dick Eulain and William Wellman Jr. as well as the 45-minute "Henry Fonda: Hollywood's Quiet Hero" as seen on Biography on the A&E Network and found on both previous releases. There is also a brief 2002 Restoration Comparison and trailers for The Ox-Bow Incident, and other westerns; Yellow Sky, Man of the West and Man With the Gun.

So nice to have this important classic looking and sounding top-shelf. Strong recommended!

***


ADDITION: Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - September 11': I think this is a more modest improvement comparing to Yellow Sky - also on Blu-ray from Koch. The technicals are far from overwhelming with less than double the bitrate of the fine Fox DVD. It may have more damage but in motion looks fairly good. Actually, a great film to re-watch in 1080P. Contrast is a shade fainter and there may be less artifacts. There is some grain though is not finely separated. It doesn't help the case for the Blu-ray that the DVD was so strong. I think the better the systems and more discerning the eye will appreciate the visual upgrade more.

Audio offers a respectable lossless track that had moments of impressiveness and perceived depth via the 2.0 channel limitations. We have to remember this film is almost 70-years old and the sound is imperfect at best with some uneven patches but unobtrusive hiss. There is also a German DUB and optional English subtitles. It plays on my Oppo and we determine it to be Region FREE!

Nice to see some supplements included - we get a Hollywood Bio of Fonda that is quite extensive at 45-minutes (German subtitles). Plus a stills gallery (in slideshow collage format) and a trailer in ghastly condition.

Bottom line is that this is not an overwhelming superiority but will become more apparent depending on your system. Example - if you were intending to project in your HT - this Blu-ray would be a must-have until a superior 1080P transfer is made.

***

ON THE DVD: Very Strong DVD offering from Fox. # 13 in their Studio Classics series that usually does not disappoint.  It is approaching Warner sharpness, but still is a shade hazy with some print damage showing occasionally in the form of lines down the screen. Good extras (with a commentary) and painful yellow subtitles. Great film, solid DVD.  out of  

Gary W. Tooze

 


Menus

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT


 

 

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 

 

Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray


 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Box Cover

 

  

Distribution Fox Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Koch Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Arrow- Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


 



 

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Gary Tooze