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Wild River Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0; English Dolby Digital Mono
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: NR
  • Running Time: 110 minutes
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 15, 2013
  • List Price: $24.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

This story dates from the time of a real natural disaster in the 1930’s, the great flood that fueled the Tennessee Valley Authority. A stubborn old woman Ella Garth (Jo Van Fleet) refuses to sell her property after the TVA has decided to build a dam that will inundate her land. The government sends agent Chuck Glover (Montgomery Clift) to deliver the evacuation order and get the reluctant family to leave voluntarily for relocation.  Glover meets Ella’s shiftless sons, Joe John (Big Jeff Bess), Hamilton (J.C. Flippen), and Cal (James Westerfield) who proceed to toss him in the river. When Ella and Glover do have their big confrontation, the agent explains that the dams are being constructed to “tame the river,” and the old woman responds “I like things runnin’ wild.” Glover tries to enlist the help of Ella’s widowed granddaughter, Carol Garth Baldwin (Lee Remick) to aid his cause and ends up falling in love with her and her two small children. Of course, there is a momentary snag as Carol had been planning to marry Walter Clark (Frank Overton) a local man that she does not love. During the land clearing project, Glover encounters racial prejudice in the person of R. J. Bailey (Albert Salmi) who gives him a sound thrashing because Glover is giving equal pay to his black workmen. The ending is a bittersweet one that I won’t spoil for those who have not yet seen this terrific film.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The restoration team has done themselves proud with their effort on a 50-plus year old film. The details are mostly crisp and clean and the colors are full-bodied. There is very little grittiness, mostly found in the darker scenes and very little motion artifact. The close-ups are truly spectacular, so good that Van Fleet’s cosmetic transformation from a 46 year-old actor to a screen octogenarian is completely believable. Of course, it does not hurt matters that both Remick and Clift are visually stunning actors with faces that the cameras simply adore.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]


The DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack is surprisingly spacious with an excellent presentation of dialogue and even more critically, Kenyon Hopkins’ marvelous and atmospheric jazzy score.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

20th Century Fox gives us an audio commentary by film historian Richard Schickel and the original theatrical trailer. A bit of a disappointing short shrift compared to other reissued films in this series.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Wild River is a cinematic masterpiece that had the misfortune to come out in the same year as blockbusters like Spartacus, Exodus, and Psycho. The chemistry between principals Clift and Remick is simply amazing particularly since he was 40, and she, 25, at the time of its filming. Given a supporting cast that is incredibly strong, headed by  Jo Van Fleet, direction by the redoubtable Elia Kazan, and Kenyon Hopkins’ fabulous score, I was delighted that 20th Century Fox undertook the remastering and reissue  of this film. In my opinion, Wild River belongs up there with To Kill a Mockingbird, the original Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and In the Heat of the Night as being among the most powerful films about the South in the twentieth century. Definitely one for lovers of cinematic drama the way that it should be done.  

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Wild River - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Wild River on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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BestBuy.com:
Wild River - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Wild River on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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