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Two John Wayne Classics: The Horse Soldiers/The Comancheros

The Horse Soldiers cover “The Horse Soldiers” is an overlooked John Ford/John Wayne classic that debuts on blu-ray with a less then pristine transfer.

Unfortunately, this western civil war drama that co-stars William Holden has not seen any restoration other than being presented in widescreen.  The plot involves Wayne and Holden moving a Northern army unit through the South towards Vicksburg and has some very moving and memorable scenes in it. Althea Gibson portrays a slave with dignity and the acting is one of Wayne’s best.

My beef is with the blu-ray transfer.  Yes, its widescreen, which is a vast improvement over the dvd.  Colors for the most part are also well preserved except at reel changes, which give a definite color shift for a few seconds.  Here is where you can tell no restoration was done ; the color shifts are so obvious that any classic film fan will cringe when they come up.  So my vote for this one is it could have been a lot better if MGM had taken some time to work on the color shifts at reel changes.  No extras on this disc worth mentioning.

Comancheros blu-ray cover“The Comancheros” from Fox gives us a nice digicover booklet with production information and stills plus a disc with extras on it.  This western is more your typical Wayne vehicle, with a mixture of serious subject and light hearted humor throughout.  Wayne and co-star Stuart Whitman partner up to infiltrate the gunner running “Comancheros” and give their location to the Texas Rangers.  A lot of great old western stars in this one and a short but dynamic performance by Lee Marvin is a real highlight.  The disc includes commentary from Michael Wayne (who also stars in the picture), Whitman, and other surviving cast members plus a short documentary (using historians and accurate footage and photos) about the history of Texas and the Comanche natives in the 19th century.

While the picture is much more consistent than “Horse Soldiers”, this disc also has some problems, mostly with faded colors.  The Cinemascope transfer shows its age with a general yellowing in skin tone and overall dullness to its otherwise flawless.  COlors do not pop as they should with a good blu-ray transfer.

A mixed bag with these Wayne titles; glad to see them make it to blu but disappointed in both the transfers.  If you are looking for classics restored, keep looking as both these discs have major problems.

May 27, 2011 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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