Murder at Yellowstone City (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A former slave passing through a desolate post-Civil War Montana town is accused of murdering a prospector who just struck gold in a long deserted mine.

In Murder at Yellowstone City, a deconstructed modern western from director Richard Gray (Robert the Bruce), Isaiah Mustafa plays the former slave Cicero, a well-read and quiet man who arrives in the post-Civil War town of Yellowstone City, Montana looking for a place to call home. The former boomtown is now a rundown town on the decline filled with drinkers, gamblers, and a whore house. But one determined prospector, Robert Dunnigan (Zach McGowan) strikes gold in the long-abandoned mine striking it rich on the same day Cicero arrives. Rather than staying home with his long-suffering wife Emma (Scottie Thompson), he decides to go into town and celebrate, announcing his find, flashing his wealth, and having a good time with his mistress, the bordello madame Isabel (Aimee Garcia). Later that night, someone murders Robert and immediately Cicero is fingered as the murderer by Sheriff Jim Ambrose (Gabriel Byrne). A search of his room turns up a sack of gold. Cicero declares his innocence, but no one listens except the preacher’s wife Alice Murphy (Anna Camp). When the local stable tender Violet Running Horse (Tanaya Beatty), who had insisted to the sheriff Cicero could not have committed the crime because he left his horse and saddle with her that night, turns up evidence that could clear him and the sheriff ignores it, the preacher Thaddeus Murphy (Thomas Jane) and his wife Alice endeavor to clear him, especially when more people begin turning up dead.

More a murder mystery than a traditional western, Murder at Yellowstone City manages to uniquely utilize the western in a new way. Gray’s direction is a slow-burn and the screenplay from Eric Belgau delves into the social issues subtly. For instance, it is only ever implied that Cicero is immediately deemed the murderer because he is the only Black person in the whole town, it is never overtly stated. We get the drift from the reaction of the majority of the townsfolk as he comes into town. The same can be said for some other relationships we find out about later on in the film.

The acting, as to be expected with a cast this high quality, is superb. Richard Dreyfuss appears as the affable saloon keeper and Thomas Jane makes for a believable preacher with a past. Gabriel Byrne is excellently cast as the misguided sheriff as well. The women are also not to be overlooked. Aimee Garcia in the role of the tough-as-nails prostitute with the heart of gold is magnificent as is Anna Camp as the determined preacher’s wife.

The Video

The 2.39:1 AVC 1080p encodement for Murder at Yellowstone City leaves nothing much to criticize given its very clean appearance, high amount of detail and spot-on color reproduction. There was one scene set in the dark where the preacher and his wife were digging up a grave where some banding in the night sky around the moon was apparent, but apart from that, this was a nearly flawless and very satisfying presentation.

The Audio

Murder at Yellowstone City is supplied with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix as the sole option. There isn’t much going on in this mix outside of some very subtle atmospheric effects in the surround channels, but it does have very deeply extended low frequencies that are only briefly utilized early in the film when there is an explosion of dynamite that rocks the room. Given this is for three-quarters of the film a very dialogue-driven story, these issues aren’t too much of a hindrance. In the final act when there is a lot of gunplay, that comes across well, with good midrange punch and easy on the ears high frequencies.

The Supplements

The audio commentary is the way to go here. The ‘making of’ is too brief and EPK-ish to offer much and the deleted scenes are an oddity even of they’re welcome. I especially liked seeing the unfinished metal roofs.

  • Audio Commentary
  • The Making of Murder at Yellowstone City (1080p; 00:04:33)
  • Deleted Scenes (1080p; 00:06:48)

The Final Assessment

This may not be the typical western, but it works and deserves a place for any genre fan. The acting all around is excellent and the Blu-ray from RLJE looks fantastic. Recommended.

Murder at Yellowstone City is out on Blu-ray August 23, 2022 from RLJE Films

  • Rating Certificate: NR
  • Studios & Distributors: Yellow Brick Films | f8 Films | SkyWolf Media | Renegade Entertainment | Brigade Media Capital | RLJE Films
  • Director: Richard Gray
  • Written By: Eric Belgau
  • Run Time: 127 Mins.
  • Street Date: 23 August 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish

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A former slave passing through a desolate post-Civil War Montana town is accused of murdering a prospector who just struck gold in a long deserted mine. Murder at Yellowstone City (Blu-ray Review)