Showing posts with label 1958. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1958. Show all posts

23 March 2015

Blu-ray Review - Man of the West (1958)

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Eureka Entertainment
Release Date:
23rd March 2015 (UK)
Rating: 12
Anthony Mann
Gary Cooper, Lee J. Cobb, Julie London
Buy: Man of the West - [Blu-ray]

Anthony Mann is considered by many to be one of the masters of American Cinema to come out of the studio age. He was one of those old time directors who had a crack at pretty much every genre under the sun, but he is best known for his historical epics and most famously his westerns. Man of the West was the second to last western he would direct, and it’s often cited as his finest along with the earlier The Furies.

Man of the West is one of the most startling westerns I’ve seen from the “classic” era of the genre. Around this time (1958) around 20% of films made were westerns -this was before the revisionist westerns of the 60s and onwards. Gary Cooper plays former outlaw Link Jones who has saved some money to help a schoolteacher, but the train he was on gets held up by outlaws. He is stuck with two others passengers and ends up finding his old uncle Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb), who he lost contact with after he attempted to go straight, and just happens to be leading the gang of outlaws who hold up the train.

Gary Cooper was as dignified an actor as you can get, he perfectly captures the conflict the role requires. Cooper also has the right level of darkness needed for the film’s sense of dread that runs through it, until the film’s final shootout, which is darker than almost any western of the classic era. Lee J. Cobb’s performance is the kind you sometimes find in westerns where you can almost just smell the liquor on them. The lounge singer Julie London also appears and for a kick check out her version of The Doors’ Light My Fire, you won’t be disappointed.

The late 50s were a period where studio films were becoming darker because of a more sophisticated audience and the initial advent of foreign language films. Man of the West came out in 1958 the same year as two of the darkest film noirs of the era, Vertigo and Touch of Evil. Film noir and the western are two of the most closely linked genres due to their similar themes of violence, masculinity etc. and that’s sometimes forgotten. Man of the West and the earlier Gary Cooper film High Noon are both films influenced by what was happening in film noir, so they have a darker bent to the proceedings. It’s also no surprise Mann, in between his famous westerns, also directed a handful of noirs as well.

Masters of Cinema's release includes a new HD transfer which looks gorgeous in all its Technicolour glory. The two features on the disc are a commentary by Glenn Kenny and Farran Nehme, and a video interview with Douglas Pye. This is finished with a booklet that includes writing by Jean-Luc Godard who was enamoured with the film saying “I have seen nothing so completely new since — why not? — Griffith… With Anthony Mann, one rediscovers the western, as one discovers arithmetic in an elementary maths class. Which is to say that Man of the West is the most intelligent of films, and at the same time the most simple.” Which is very high praise indeed.

Ian Schultz

9 January 2015

Yee-Haa! Eureka! Entertainment Giving Gary Cooper's Classic Western Man Of The West Masters Of Cinema Treatment

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Eureka! Entertainment have announced the release of MAN OF THE WEST, starring studio superstar Gary Cooper in one of his most uncompromising performances. The capstone to director Anthony Mann’s extraordinary run of westerns in the 1950s (including Winchester ’73, The Furies, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur, and more), Man of the West is regarded alongside The Searchers, Rio Bravo, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, as one of the greatest of all westerns. Man of the West will be released on Blu-ray in a Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition as part of Eureka’s award-winning The Masters of Cinema Series on 23 February 2015.

Check out the original theatrical trailer sent to us courtesy of Eureka! Entertainment...

The pinnacle in the brilliant career of director Anthony Mann, Man of the West has earned a reputation as one of the finest westerns — and one of the finest films, full stop — produced in the late studio era.

Ex-outlaw Link Jones (Gary Cooper) boards a train to Fort Worth to hire a schoolteacher for his town when he’s knocked unconscious and robbed — by a gang of outlaws associated with his own uncle (Lee J. Cobb) whom he abandoned years earlier in his bid to go straight. Soon after, and in order to protect the life of the woman he’d earmarked for schoolteacher, saloon singer Billie Ellis (Julie London), Link rejoins the gang for one last hold-up…

Jean-Luc Godard wrote of Man of the West: "I have seen nothing so completely new since — why not? — Griffith… With Anthony Mann, one rediscovers the western , as one discovers arithmetic in an elementary maths class. Which is to say that Man of the West is the most intelligent of films, and at the same time the most simple." The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Man of the West in a special Dual Format edition that presents the film on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

Man Of The West will come on dual format in a New HD 1080p HD presentation of the film in its original aspect ratio, plus a 44-PAGE BOOKLET with writing by Jean-Luc Godard, a score of rare archival imagery, and more!

We will be reviewing the film so stayed tuned, Man of The West will be released on 23rd February on Dual Format , pre-order your copy here

23 September 2013

A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958) Masters Of Cinema Blu-Ray Review

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BD Release Date:
23rd September 2013 (UK)
Eureka Video
Douglas Sirk
John Gavin, Liselotte Pulver, Jock Mahoney
A Time To Love And A Time To Die (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray)

A Time to Love and a Time to Die was previously released by Masters of Cinema on dvd but it’s a welcome blu-ray upgrade. That master of melodrama Douglas Sirk directs it and as far as I know Masters of Cinema are the only company to have released any of his films on blu-ray. The other film they released is The Tarnished Angels and both films give 2 different sides to Sirk. A Time to Love… is firstly in colour and his colour films have a very expressionistic use of colour. The Tarnished Angels on the other hand is black and white and is to an extent an even more pessimistic film, which is the norm with his black and white films.

A Time to Love… is firstly a surprising sympathetic film about a Nazi officer. The thing, which is most surprising, is Sirk who of course is German and Jewish himself and who also fled in the 1930s became of his political leanings and ethnicity would make such a sympathetic film about a Nazi officer. The film however is about an apolitical soldier who was literally just a hired hand, which was often the case at the time.

The film is a classic piece of Sirkian melodrama; the plot is basically the Nazi soldier who is stationed out on the Eastern Front finally gets his first furlough in 2 years. He arrives home and Allied bombing has destroyed his hometown and his parents are missing. He meets a girl who is the daughter of his family’s doctor but the Gestapo is holding him. They two of them fall in love and marry but in typical Sirkian style everything ends in tragedy.

The film was made near the end of his career in Hollywood he would later move back to his Native Germany to teach films. His last film was a collaborative short film with his greatest admirer Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who wrote extensively on Sirk and was one of the 1st to revaluate his films). It was the last film he made before his much-revered Imitation of Life (recently voted one of the 100 best films ever made in the Sight and Sound poll). It’s one of the first post-war films I can think of that doesn’t paint all Nazis are evil bastards which is why it’s so fascinating.

John Gavin stars as the Nazi soldier and in many ways he is Rock Hudson’s replacement (who Sirk cast in the majority of his key films). He is a handsome black haired masculine actor very much in the build of Hudson and was groomed to be like him by Universal Studios so the similarity obviously appealed to Sirk who also casted him in Imitation of Life. However interestingly is actually of Latin descent and not gay. Hudson’s closeted homosexuality always brought interested subtext to many of his roles especially his work with Sirk and Seconds. John Gavin would later star in Spartacus, Psycho and was even cast as James Bond before Roger Moore. The film also features a absurdly young Klaus Kinski in a small role.

The film is very typical of Sirk with its lush CinemaScope photography and Sirk’s films were certainly made for that format. It also has that characteristic irony that runs though all his work especially with the film’s ending. It’s not his greatest film but it’s a fascinating one.


Ian Schultz