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The Big Country Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American) DTS 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: NR
  • Run Time: 165 Mins
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: MGM
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 1, 2011
  • List Price: $19.99

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BestBuy.com:
The Big Country - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle Dts

Purchase The Big Country on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

A perfect yet underrated western in the classic style from the late fifties, William Wyler’s (Roman Holiday; Ben-Hur) sweeping western uses California’s wide open Mojave Desert as the “big country” backdrop for a story that parallels the cold war era paranoia of the times. The star-packed cast includes Gregory Peck, the glorious Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, and Carroll Baker in a story full of action, romance, thrills and jealously.

The rich and retired New England shipping magnate James McKay (Peck) arrives out west, engaged to the young Patricia (Baker), daughter to the rich rancher Maj. Henry Terrill. But McKay soon finds he has gotten himself into more than he had bargained for when he discovers he must contend with Terrill’s jealous ranch foreman (Heston) and also becomes embroiled in a family feud between the Terrills and Hannasseys over a stretch of land owned by one Miss Julie Maragon (Simmons). The land, known as “Big Muddy,” is the only place where both ranchers, the rich, sophisticated Terrill, and the gruff, “low class” Rufus Hannassey (Ives) and his ruthless sons can both take their cattle to water during the dry season. Both have been angling to gain sole ownership over the land for years. It’s about to come to a head that could turn bloody.

The Big Country is a gorgeous film to watch and it is not difficult to see why The Academy would want to take on the task of restoring it (see below). It is filled with beautiful, wide open scenery of the desert landscape that, combined with the perfect performances from all involved, particularly Peck, Ives, and the lovely Simmons, make this a western that is worthy of being mentioned with the very elite of the genre.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Restored by The Academy Film Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Big Country on Blu-ray is one if the most gorgeous catalogue releases I have seen from MGM in a long time. The AVC/MPEG-4 encodement starts of a little scary. The opening title sequence’s source looks heavily scarred with source damage and has poor color reproduction, but then the image clears up and becomes miraculous. It is clean, clear, and superbly detailed with a fine layer of grain. There is just a subtle amount of flicker here and there and some mild blurriness during few sequences.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The original monaural soundtrack is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and it is clean and dynamic. Dialogue is clear without any clipping and the sweeping score sounds airy with a good sense of depth and separation.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

There aren’t really a lot of supplements offered here, but the classic, archival featurette and TV Spot are certainly a pleasure to see.

The supplements:

  • Fun in the Big Country (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:05:12) – Jean Simmons narrates this archival behind-the-scenes “making of” on The Big Country.
  • TV Spot (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Excellent! Western buffs need to have this classy, marvelously restored film in their catalogue. A true classic of the golden age of the western, The Big Country has aged perfectly and can stand up to any action film made today.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B0052E8XFI[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
The Big Country - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle Dts

Purchase The Big Country on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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