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3 Bad Men [Blu-ray]
(John Ford, 1926)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Fox Film Corporation
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 20,802,357,626 bytes
Feature Size: 20,142,286,848 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.79 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 23d, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
Description:This classic western directed by the great John Ford (The Hurricane) stars George O'Brien (Sunrise) and a host of other greats from the Silent era and beyond. When a trio of bandits discovers a young woman (Olive Borden) whose father was murdered by a ruthless gang, the "Three Bad Men" go from being partners in crime to comrades in chivalry. Willing to put their own lives on the line to protect her from a sinister sheriff (Lou Tellegen) and his deranged posse, the men prove that character isn't always determined by which side of the law a man sits on. A grand, picturesque western, this epic stands as one of the legendary director s finest.
One of John Ford's greatest Silent epics, Three Bad Men chronicles the rush for land and gold in the Dakotas in the 1870s. Throughout his career, Ford displayed a preference for setting his dramas against historical backdrops, and Three Bad Men yet again shows his unmatchable skill in balancing an intimate story with a grand tale. Ford also uses these films to put his own spin on history. In this case it is a vision of the West in which the motivation of the pioneers is fully noble, and misdeeds are usually committed by isolated individuals. And while some of the greed is shown, Ford repeatedly stresses that the true "gold" of the rush was in the richness of the land. A continuing theme throughout Three Bad Men is redemption. At first, Bull, Mike, and Spank are shown as unsympathetic villains, wanted for various crimes, and at one point Bull comes close to cold-bloodedly killing Lee. But through selflessly dedicating themselves to Lee's welfare they find a nobler purpose, and ultimately sacrifice their lives to save her's and Dan's. As with any Ford film, there are also plenty of exciting action sequences. In this case they include the attack on the Carltons' wagon, the burning of the church, and the climactic battle with Hunter and his men. The land rush sequence is particularly impressive, filled with horses and wagons racing across the plains, as families desperately run after their dreams. In the lead roles, George O'Brien and Olive Borden look more like movie stars than Western pioneers, but still give honest performances. Bull Stanley is the film's most complex character, even if the transition from outlaw to protector is not entirely smooth, and Tom Santschi plays Bull with a depth of character that exceeds the others in the film. If Three Bad Men falls just short of Ford's later masterpieces, it is still an important, maturing step in his vital body of work.
Long thought lost, the Silent Three Bad Men is an vital ingredient in the cinematic canon of director John Ford. Often described as a film version of Peter B. Kyne's Three Godfathers (which Ford would direct in 1948), Three Bad Men is actually based on Over the Border, a novel by Herman Whitaker. The plot, which spans several years, is set in motion when three bandits appoint themselves protectors of the heroine, whose settler father is killed early in the proceedings. A subplot involves bandit Tom Santschi's efforts to wreak vengeance on the man who seduced and abandoned his sister. The film was originally supposed to star George O'Brien, Tom Mix and Buck Jones as the title characters, but since the plot required the Three Bad Men to be killed off long before the fadeout, and since all three proposed stars had large and loyal kiddie followings, the roles were recast, with character actors Santschi, Frank Campeau and J. Farrell McDonald. O'Brien was retained, albeit relegated to a less colorful heroic role. Three Bad Men should be seen in its original release form; most commercial prints are chopped up and woefully washed out.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
3 Bad Men was offered on DVD in the Ford at Fox boxset from late 2007. The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of John Ford's 1926 film looks like it is from the same source but transferred in 1080P. There is inherent damage in the 90-year old film but it is entirely watchable. The higher resolution defines the contrast, to a higher degree and the film presentation is just richer and truer over the old SD. This Blu-ray advances on the image quality, also exemplifying the damage but it breathes new life into the viewing, IMO.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. The Blu-ray is accompanied by the same pleasing music score as the 2007 Fox DVD - composed by Dana Kaproff. The intertitles appear original, although may have had some restoration, and, hence, there are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
This Blu-ray offers a new, excellent, audio commentary by film historian Joseph McBride, the author of Searching For John Ford and it gives a great overview of the production offering many good details. There is also a trailer for Ford's 1937 film The Hurricane.
July 23rd, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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