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Canyon Passage [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal Pictures
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,250,094,006 bytes
Feature Size: 21,134,862,336 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.64 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 23rd, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bits
• Universal newsreels from 1946 in HD including the premiere of
"Canyon Passage" (6:30)
Description:Considered by many to be unjustly overlooked, “Canyon Passage”, Jacques Tourneur’s first Western and Technicolor film, is presented in a pristine transfer with high definition video and audio. A thrilling adventure set in untamed Oregon Territory in 1856, Tourneur’s portrayal of settlers in the mining town of Jacksonville is undoubtedly one of the most vivid portrayals of pioneer life in the Old West ever brought to the screen.
Dana Andrews -- in one of the best performances of his career -- plays Logan Stuart, a bold, ambitious general store and freight company owner based in the mining settlement of Jacksonville, OR, in 1856. He and his best friend, local banker and express company owner George Camrose (Brian Donlevy), share an attraction for young, beautiful Lucy Overmire (Susan Hayward). However, that's all the two men share -- Stuart sees life in the Oregon territory as a challenge, to be worked out and overcome with thought and time, with the opportunity to build something lasting and significant in the process. Camrose only sees the opportunity to get rich fast and live easy, and he's addicted to gambling at the local saloon. What no one knows is that he's been doing his gambling with the gold dust that the miners have left on deposit in his vault -- and he's been losing. He wants to get out of the territory, to someplace like San Francisco, and plans to take Lucy away. Stuart, by contrast, is as much a frontiersman as a businessman, and so much a part of the community and so trusted and liked that he might even be a potential political leader, if he ever had the time and the willingness to settle down and stay put.
The acting is all spectacular. Andrews plays the conflicted leading man
better than anyone and his muted attraction to Hayward, present but
clouded from their first scene, is fantastic. Hayward’s great too, with
her reciprocal attraction being more of a complicated narrative
development. Donlevy’s best scenes are probably when he’s on his own (Donlevy’s
always seems more a leading man, even when he’s not the protagonist)–but
his scenes with Andrews are singular. The supporting cast–Andy Devine,
Hoagy Carmichael and Lloyd Bridges, in particular–are excellent. As the
villain, Ward Bond is terrifying. Bond plays him with a mix of evil and
stupidity–the stupidity making the evil even more scary.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
It's great to see more Blu-ray output from Panamint after their very satisfying releases of Inferno and Madame X. The choice of Canyon Passage couldn't have been a better one - a unjustly neglected film from the great Jacques Tourneur. But it was not without challenges - as Daryl Chin informed us many years ago - 'there can be many issues when transferring 3-strip Technicolor films - the negatives can shrink, show damage, etc. individually, there might be (for a reel or so) what looks like "ghosting" because one of the three negatives has shrunk - this is what happened on the Canyon Passage DVD (part of the Classic Western Round-Up Vol. 1). The alignment just becomes impossible, so that part of the image will always appear "off". The blue section (for example) will suddenly seem misaligned.' I admit to being no expert in Technicolor or the original appearance of Canyon Passage. We have compared a few frames below to the SD to show the difference which can really range depending on the scene and this supports Daryl's information. As he also informed us "One of the three negatives sustains damage which cannot be eradicated, and makes the processing difficult. This can make the image seem to be too dark or too light, because the shadings and contrasts are unbalanced." This may be the reason the Panamint is much darker and a bit greener (although the DVD was too blue) - I don't know - but the image quality is consistent and reasonably clean in the HD transfer. I noticed no noise - not even in the many darker sequences. This Blu-ray gave me a very pleasing viewing in regards to the picture quality.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
Panamint use a robust linear PCM track - with some depth noted in effects and the scoreby Frank Skinner (Magnificent Obsession, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, All That Heaven Allows, and The Naked City) - as well as a few tunes by Hoagy Carmichael - it all sounds flat with a smattering of richness. Quite clean and pleasing. There are optional subtitles offered in English (see sample above) and the Blu-ray disc is identified as region 'B'.
Panamint add some extras - a Universal newsreels from 1946 in HD including the premiere of "Canyon Passage" running 6.5 minutes. There are four vintage radio programs featuring the stars of "Canyon Passage" running al most 2 hours and fans of these will enjoy. The package has a reversible inlay with alternative designs and a 16 page illustrated booklet.
August 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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