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The Comancheros: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Book Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Surround 4.0, French Mono, Spanish Mono
  • Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish
  • Region: A
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 17, 2011
  • List Price: $34.99

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BestBuy.com:
The Comancheros - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle AC3

Purchase The Comancheros on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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:3.5/5]

The “Duke” is indelibly linked to the Hollywood Western and The Comancheros captures him a little  past the prime of his long career. As Captain Jake Cutter of the Texas Rangers, he arrests Stuart Whitman (Paul  Regret), a ne’er-do-well gambler from New Orleans, who has killed a prominent citizen in a duel. The story covers their journey across the West, as Cutter tries to bring Whitman to justice. Along the way, these two unlikely buddies bond and encounter a number of colorful characters, including Lee Marvin (Tully Crowe), Edgar Buchanan (Judge Breen), Michael Ansara (Amelung), Nehemiah Persoff (Graile) and Gwinn “Big Boy” Williams (Ed McBain).  Video-luscious Ina Balin supplies the babe interest as Pilar, Graile’s daughter. The odd couple (Wayne and Whitman) finally encounter the Comancheros, a group of rogue outlaws and Comanche Indians, and the action heats up.  Director Michael Curtiz died before the end of filming and his duties were assumed (uncredited) by Wayne himself. While far from the greatest of Wayne’s epic horse operas, the time-tested plot of good versus evil is played out against the overwhelming backdrop of the natural beauty of the great Southwest.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

As a film celebrating its golden anniversary, The Comancheros looks pretty darn compelling in the Blu-ray restoration. Close up shots are reasonably sharp with good facial detail. However, the larger distant shots, including the scenic panoramas are somewhat grainy.  Still, given the age of the of the original film, it is all very watchable with excellent contrast and colors.  The many action sequences are stylized out of the Hollywood Western playbook with the usual trick rider moves.  The last 90 seconds features one of the best shoot-outs in Western filmdom. The “big country” atmosphere serves this film well and compensates for some of the plot’s lack of originality.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

One of the joys of this film is the stirring score by Hollywood legend, Elmer Bernstein.  You can hear traces of The Magnificent Seven as well as several other Wayne movie soundtracks. The dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is adequate but has a tendency toward boxiness.  The dialog channel is clear, exposing some of the script’s many clichés : Paul Regret: “How do you know you killed him?” Ranger Capt. Jake Cutter: “There wasn’t time not to!”

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Of these supplements, by far and away, the most interest comes from the John Wayne retrospective Fox biopic which traces the beginning of his long and storied career.

  • Commentaries by actors Stuart Whitman, Nehemiah Persoff, Michael Ansara and Patrick Wayne
  • Several featurettes:
    • The Comacheros and the Battle for the American Southwest
    • Audio conversation with Stuart Whitman
    • Fox Movietone Newsreel
    • The Duke at Fox
    • Vintage Comancheros Comic Book Gallery
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • 24-page Collectible Book

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

John Wayne cast a long shadow over most of his films, dominating the screen like few actors before or since. The Comancheros is a formula-driven Western movie, and while far from the best of the Wayne Westerns, still provides heroic moments and outstanding scenery. Stuart Whitman provides an interesting foil as the anti-hero, often a role assigned to Wayne himself.  However, his romantic subplot with Ina Balin is given such short shrift  that the chemistry never really develops.  On the other hand, the cast is loaded with lots of interesting characters that pop in and out of the screen. There is certainly enough real action to keep viewers interested and the Elmer Bernstein score effectively carries the larger-than-life mood of the cinematic proceedings. Despite the age of this movie, the audio and video restorations give a good idea of what the box office buzz was all about when this movie was released 50 years ago. Not Oscar  quality but an enjoyable watch all the way through.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004RQDBEU[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
The Comancheros - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle AC3

Purchase The Comancheros on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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