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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Strategic Air Command [Blu-ray]


(Anthony Mann, 1955)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:53:49.447

Disc Size: 24,563,242,257 bytes

Feature Size: 24,352,014,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.08 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 18th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1824 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1824 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, None



• None





Description: James Stewart (Vertigo) and June Allyson (The Glenn Miller Story) star in director Anthony Mann's (El Cid) Cold War aviation drama Strategic Air Command. Robert ""Dutch"" Holland (Stewart), a successful player for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, finds his inactive duty status with the U.S. Air Force suddenly active. When Holland, originally tasked with a staff job, is promoted to commanding a B-36 bomber crew, his attempts to balance domestic life with Sally (Allyson as his devoted wife) and service to God and country will test not only his marriage, but also his sense of self.

Shot in VistaVision and Technicolor by the great William Daniels (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, How the West Was Won), Strategic Air Command features an amazing color palette and stunning aerial photography complimented by a rousing score courtesy of Victor Young (The Quiet Man, Gun Crazy).



The Film:

Saga of the US Air Force special bomber unit during the Cold War era. A professional baseball player is recalled to military service because of the expert flying skills he acquired during World War II. Although the athlete and his wife are both reluctant to give up civilian life, both come to realize the importance of the defense mission. The film features spectacular aerial footage of big bombers on maneuvers.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Two things keep Strategic Air Command (1955) aloft. The first is Jimmy Stewart's conviction and authenticity in a role he not only believed in, but lived. The second is spectacular aerial photography. Thanks to these two elements, the film is kept, if just barely, from seeming a live-action United States Air Force recruitment poster in VistaVision. Stewart doesn't just play a demobilized WWII veteran walking away from St. Louis Cardinals baseball stardom to heed the call of Cold War patriotic duty (a la Red Sox legend Ted Williams!). Stewart and SAC commanding general Curtis LeMay, similarly fired up by patriotism, devised this unabashedly propagandistic film specifically to win public and, by extension, Congressional budget support for the SAC in a postwar climate weary of war. In this respect, Stewart represented ideal casting.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Strategic Air Command arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but the source used is in excellent shape. Colors are very appealing - bright with some beautiful pastels. The image is very clean with many instances of depth and this is very pleasing in the 1.66:1 (matted) aspect ratio. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and it gave me a far better presentation than I was anticipating. Thumbs up!




















Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 2.0 track at 1824 kbps (24-bit). There are plenty of military machines - humming plane engines in the film and Victor Young's (The Sun Shines Bright, Johnny Guitar, China Gate etc.) uplifting score sounds tight with the rousing resonance. The Air Force Takes Command 'theme'. It is competent with some depth and dialogue audible. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.



Well, Strategic Air Command is not the best of the Stewart/Mann collaborations - I'm thinking of the excellent Winchester '73, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur, The Far Country - that all deserve Blu-ray treatment ahead of this. But there is still value here - solid storytelling, very cool plane cinematography/aerial shots and even minor Mann is enjoyable viewing. The Blu-ray is fine, typically bare-bones and a worn, speckle-filled presentation. Vintage and Mr. Stewart film fans only need indulge. 

Gary Tooze

October 18th, 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.

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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