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    Brannigan Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray MGM Twilight Time

    Jul 16 2014 01:40 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    By 1975, John Wayne’s illustrious four and a half decade career as a film star had begun to wind down. Advancing years, added girth, and health concerns made the kinds of films he excelled at, action films and westerns, rather difficult for the once-robust actor to tackle, and 1975 was the first time his name had not appeared among the top ten box-office stars since 1958 (and he had headed the list in which he first appeared in 1949 on four separate occasions). Brannigan, one of two films he made in 1975, is an average-level crime drama with some fish-out-of-water twists for the legendary star but on the whole is one of the lesser pictures from his last decade of work.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: MGM
    • Distributed By: Twilight Time
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
    • Subtitles: English SDH
    • Rating: PG
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 51 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: All
    • Release Date: 07/08/2014
    • MSRP: $29.95

    The Production Rating: 3/5

    Chicago homicide detective Jim Brannigan (John Wayne) is sent to London to bring back wanted mobster Larkin (John Vernon) who has made his way to Britain attempting to flee U.S. jurisdiction. Before Scotland Yard Commander Swann (Richard Attenborough) can put his hands on the felon, he’s kidnapped by English thugs who ask for an exorbitant ransom for his safe return, all to be handled through Larkin’s lawyer Fields (Mel Ferrer). In London, Brannigan is given a Scotland Yard investigator (Judy Geeson) to act as his Girl Friday, but little does he know that Larkin had put out a contract hit on Brannigan, and that hit man Gorman (Daniel Pilon) is stalking the American cop around London waiting for the perfect time to rub him out.

    The script has four names attached to it (Christopher Trumbo, Michael Butler, William P. McGivern, and Michael Butler), but none of the men have been able to fill in the film’s too lengthy running time with a consistently suspenseful narrative especially since the plotting is twofold with both the kidnapping and assassination plots running concurrently. There are certainly moments that grip the viewer (a wild, well-staged car chase through London, unique for films shot there; a couple of booby traps set for Brannigan by Gorman), but then the film drags itself out with the underdeveloped kidnapping plot which could have used severe tightening and a completely unnecessary pub brawl that doesn’t really accomplish anything and goes on far too long. Though Wayne’s Brannigan is unaccustomed to English ways, he nevertheless manages to get his own way throughout (retaining his weapon on his person, living where he chooses, driving madly) with the writers thus not making the fish-out-of-water part of the saga as amusing or as memorable as it might have been. Also, after repeated attempts to subtly kill his mark, Gorman at the end of the film behaves in a completely ridiculous manner that seems as if the writers had simply tired of the cat and mouse antics and wanted to bring that aspect of the story to a close as well. It’s a decided letdown to what could have been the most memorable aspect of the film.

    John Wayne still casts a strong, sturdy shadow as the title character, but his movements are slower, his actions and reactions in the pub fight indicative that the years were certainly passing by for him (though that doesn’t keep the sound effects technicians from applying loud Foley punches for his every little tap). Richard Attenborough’s smug inspector gets taken down a peg or two once his own men bungle the apprehension of the crook Brannigan is there to take custody of, but otherwise he’s a welcome presence in the movie. Judy Geeson isn’t given a lot to do as Brannigan’s tagalong, but the writers have thankfully not infused a love affair sparking between the two of them. Heavys Mel Ferrer and John Vernon do just fine in their roles while Daniel Pilon has charisma to spare as the hit man, and Pauline Delaney is amusing as Brannigan’s landlady who obviously has a crush on him. Look fast to see Ralph Meeker and the very young Lesley Anne Down in small roles.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film’s 2.35:1 Panavision aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Looking much slicker from many widescreen films from the same period, the transfer features overall very good sharpness (close-ups are superb; long shots less so), and color saturation and authenticity seems spot-on. Flesh tones are very believable though they can occasionally vary from shot to shot. Black levels are excellent. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is very much a product of its era where the dialogue, music, and sound effects blended into a seamless whole while one never intruded upon the others. Dominic Frontiere’s very 1970s sounding score has a nice dynamism to it, and there are no age-related problems with the encode that rob it of any period flavor.

    Special Features: 3.5/5

    Audio Commentary: producer Nick Redman and leading lady Judy Geeson share a chatty commentary track where the two reminisce about the London locations (both are former Londoners) and discuss her memories of working on the movie, her opinions about the actors and director, and comments on other prominent work of hers on stage and screen. It’s a very entertaining track.

    Isolated Score Track: Dominic Frontiere’s background score is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.

    Behind the Scenes Home Movies (2:47, SD): Judy Geeson’s silent home movies were shot behind the scenes during the film’s production.

    Theatrical Trailer (2:21, HD)

    MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (2:06, HD)

    Six Page Booklet: contains color and black and white stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s judicious analysis of the film.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    Not a great crime drama but one worthy of attention in view of its place as one of John Wayne’s final cinematic efforts, Brannigan at least looks and sounds great in this new Blu-ray transfer. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
    Support HTF when you buy this title:

    • SAhmed likes this


    19 Comments

    Thanks for your review. Other reviews(blu-ray.com) are not as positive about the picture quality as you are. They say the picture looks too soft and therefore it´s quite dissappointing.

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    Malcolm Bmoor
    Jul 17 2014 02:55 AM

    You need to know London well to fully appreciate this film and its determination to constantly show those few parts well known to tourists. The geography of the journeys is wonderful to behold in their impossible sequence of non-adjacent places.

     

    It's akin to going from 42nd Street to Times Square via the Brooklyn Bridge.

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 17 2014 03:35 AM

    Thanks for your review. Other reviews(blu-ray.com) are not as positive about the picture quality as you are. They say the picture looks too soft and therefore it´s quite dissappointing.

    Perhaps, that reviewer's expectations were higher.  Also, he starts off his video rating with the following:

     

    Much like the film itself, while there's nothing really wrong with this high definition presentation,

    Thanks for your review. Other reviews(blu-ray.com) are not as positive about the picture quality as you are. They say the picture looks too soft and therefore it´s quite dissappointing.

     

    Is it razor sharp? No, but the film offers a pleasing viewing experience with sharpness way above average in all but long shots, and it's completely without dirt and damage, a big plus for films from the 1970s.

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    Adam Gregorich
    Jul 17 2014 08:35 AM
    It might not be among his best films, but any Wayne on Blu is a good thing. Thanks Twilight Time!
      • Robin9 likes this
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    michael deakin
    Jul 17 2014 10:07 AM

    Brannigan brings back fond Memories for me. I was refused a ticket the first time I tried to see it at my local cinema has I was underage, But on my second attempt I managed to bluff my way in. Even now I still think the movie is pretty good with a good soundtrack. Shame it's not a double feature with McQ.

      • SAhmed likes this

    Not too keen on the disc cover artwork, looks a bit cheap and nasty but i guess it's the actual film itself that counts.

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 17 2014 12:52 PM

    I'be got a migraine now, but I plan on starting to view this BD first thing tomorrow morning.  I might not finish it until later in the day, but it's first up on my viewing list for the weekend.

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 18 2014 01:54 AM

    Starting viewing this disc, looks good so far, I hope to finish it later today.

    Watched yesterday. I saw this in a theater in 1975 and it was like a lot of 70's films visually.....bland. But the TT blu is, IMO, an accurate representation of what I saw in 1975 and certainly leaps and bounds above any previous home video version. Enjoyable JW flick (but of his 2 cop films, I prefer McQ).

    Not too keen on the disc cover artwork, looks a bit cheap and nasty but i guess it's the actual film itself that counts.

    I agree about the artwork....of all of TT's recent releases, this is by far my least favorite. The artwork for "The Man from Laramie", "The Train", "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison" and the upcoming "Man Hunt" are all knock-outs but "Brannigan" just looked cheesy.

    The artwork is kind of odd. The font reminds me of the TV show Cheers. Aside from the British flag, the cover looks like John Wayne busting up Sam Malone's bar.

     

    I remember 70's films often looking soft. They often shot with unfiltered light which made the whites look overblown.

      • FoxyMulder likes this

    The artwork is kind of odd. The font reminds me of the TV show Cheers. Aside from the British flag, the cover looks like John Wayne busting up Sam Malone's bar.

     

    I remember 70's films often looking soft. They often shot with unfiltered light which made the whites look overblown.

    You nailed it!!!!!  I was trying to think of what the artwork reminded me of.....and Cheers is it! I need to see if I can find Norm or Cliff in the background!

    Brannigan brings back fond Memories for me. I was refused a ticket the first time I tried to see it at my local cinema has I was underage, But on my second attempt I managed to bluff my way in. Even now I still think the movie is pretty good with a good soundtrack. Shame it's not a double feature with McQ.

    It can´t be because "McQ" is a Warner film.

    Photo
    Jacob McCandles
    Nov 28 2014 04:47 AM

    I'm surprised noone noticed yet that the BD doesn't show the whole picture of the film.

     

    If you compare this new edition to the dvd from 2004, you will clearly notice that the picture is severely cropped on top and slightly on the right side. The end titles with London Bridge is a very obvious exemple, with the top of one tower cropped on BD while there is a portion of sky above the same tower on the dvd. Also, a tree is cropped on the right side of the BD. So, eventhough the BD format is 2.35, it's seems like MGM zoomed in the picture. Already in 2004, the dvd was also cropped, down and left of the picture, this time, to the point that the format was wrongly announced as 2.35 (more 2.27 or 2.29)

    However concerning the BD, this cropping adds more disappointment to a transfer,not really sharp and poor in details. For me, the gap between the BD and dvd is almost unnoticable.

    Compared to the amazing BD of Big Jake( 1971),this limited edition of Brannigan is definetely a true disappointment.

    For a such a limited,exclusive and expensive edition of Brannigan, I expected much better than such a poor and unrestored BD with a cropped picture hardly better than a simple dvd.

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    Robert Crawford
    Nov 28 2014 10:54 AM

    I'm surprised noone noticed yet that the BD doesn't show the whole picture of the film.

     

    If you compare this new edition to the dvd from 2004, you will clearly notice that the picture is severely cropped on top and slightly on the right side. The end titles with London Bridge is a very obvious exemple, with the top of one tower cropped on BD while there is a portion of sky above the same tower on the dvd. Also, a tree is cropped on the right side of the BD. So, eventhough the BD format is 2.35, it's seems like MGM zoomed in the picture. Already in 2004, the dvd was also cropped, down and left of the picture, this time, to the point that the format was wrongly announced as 2.35 (more 2.27 or 2.29)

    However concerning the BD, this cropping adds more disappointment to a transfer,not really sharp and poor in details. For me, the gap between the BD and dvd is almost unnoticable.

    Compared to the amazing BD of Big Jake( 1971),this limited edition of Brannigan is definetely a true disappointment.

    For a such a limited,exclusive and expensive edition of Brannigan, I expected much better than such a poor and unrestored BD with a cropped picture hardly better than a simple dvd.

    Welcome to the forum and I like the reference to Big Jake with your forum name.  What type of display are you viewing this BD on?

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    Jacob McCandles
    Nov 28 2014 11:42 AM

    Thanks :) Big Jake is my favorite Duke's movie and definitely my favorite movie, that's why I am so glad the BD is so stunning. To answer your question, I have a 40'' Samsung full HD smart TV and a Sony BD player, both of excellent quality. Concerning Brannigan, I compared the picture with Big Jake, Rio Lobo and The searchers to check about the PQ and sharpness. And frankly it hardly looks like a Blu Ray picture compared to those titles.

     

    But the other problem, no matter the type of display, is the fact that MGM cropped or zoomed the picture and then announced the format of the film was respected. It is indeed presented in 2.35 but, like I wrote previously, when you compare the BD with the DVD from 2004, the top of the picture is severely cropped, the right side, a bit less. If you have both the BD and DVD, I invite you to check it by yourself on the end credits. You will then notice that one tower of London Bridge is cropped on the BD while fully visible with even some more sky above on the DVD.

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    Robert Crawford
    Nov 28 2014 01:51 PM

    I've learned a long time ago that comparing different optical disc releases can be tricky because the previous disc release might not be accurate either.  As to your comment about comparing it to other titles, that could be tricky too as different film stock and conditions to the film elements have a strong bearing.  On my top of the line plasma displays, this BD is superior to the earlier DVD and I viewed both on my 65" Panny VT Plasma and my 60" Samsung F8500 Plasma.

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    Jacob McCandles
    Nov 29 2014 01:28 AM

    When I wrote that this BD was hardly better than a simple DVD, I guess I expressed myself wrongly. I meant that for anyone who doesn't know they're watching a BD, they could easily think it's a - very good indeed - DVD. Take for example the moment when Daniel Pilon shows his passport at the airport, well, if you compare the BD and DVD, in both medias you have no sharpness to read the details like in a BD. Usually for this kind of element, you immediately know when you're watching a BD. In Big Jake, for instance, when Duke signs at the desk of the hotel in Escondero, the picture is so crisp and detailed, you can perfectly read the date on the book.

     

    But I agree with you that the BD of Brannigan looks - slighty - superior to the previous DVD. You can see on the end credits that the sky on the DVD is kind of pinky ; but the titles on the BD are not crisp at all and don't look much different than on DVD.

     

    But still the cropping remains on the BD. Did you see it ?