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    The Gay Caballero (1940) DVD Review

    DVD Fox

    Nov 03 2013 02:09 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    After starring in three films for Fox as the Cisco Kid, Oscar winner Warner Baxter relinquished the role to Cesar Romero for the remainder of the character’s tenure with the studio. Romero starred in a half dozen or so B-movie adventures as the Kid before the studio dropped the series and another studio picked it up. Though he was generally a second lead in most of his Fox A-films, Romero got the chance with The Gay Caballero and his other Cisco Kid movies to be the leading man, and he really takes advantage of the opportunity offering a portrayal that brims with vigor and brio. He’s a wonderful Cisco Kid.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 480I/MPEG-2
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD
    • Subtitles: None
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 0 Hr. 57 Min.
    • Package Includes: DVD
    • Case Type: Amray case
    • Disc Type: DVD-R
    • Region: All
    • Release Date: 07/16/2013
    • MSRP: $19.98

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    The Cisco Kid (Cesar Romero) and his pal Gordito (Chris-Pin Martin) meet Englishman George Wetherby (Montague Shaw) and his lovely daughter Susan (Sheila Ryan) on the trail after they have been robbed by bandits. They didn’t have anything of value on them, but they had made arrangements with Wells Fargo to send their $15,000 to them in order for them to buy ranchland from Mrs. Kate Brewster (Janet Beecher), a land baroness whose spread covers hundreds of miles. Mrs. Brewster is being visited by her newly appointed deputy/nephew Billy (Robert Sterling) when the Kid and the Wetherbys arrive, but what none of them know is that the bandits are part of a gang being housed on the property overseen by gunslinger Joe Turner (Edmund MacDonald), and when the bandits manage to steal the Wetherbys’ money, they also manage to pin it on the Cisco Kid.

    Though the film runs less than an hour, the screenplay by Albert Duffy and John Larkin manages to work into it stage holdups and chases, double crosses, jailbreaks, runaway wagons, and even romance for both Cisco and Gordito (he with Mrs. Brewster’s maid Carmelita played by Jacqueline Dalya). Yet, even with all of these events, the movie doesn’t feel cramped or rushed in any way, just fleet-footed and rousing thanks to slick, concise direction by Otto Brower and excellent ensemble playing. The screenplay even has a major surprise within that won’t be spoiled but will likely take most new viewers completely unawares. The outdoor photography exudes the old west wonderfully, something fans of westerns will be sure to appreciate.

    Cesar Romero might smile just a bit too broadly and too much as Cisco, chuckling at his own dialogue and not taking the real dangers the character is facing seriously enough, but it’s such a delightfully playful performance that it’s hard to quibble. Janet Beecher is excellent as “Aunt Kate” whose late husband insisted that the ranch house serve as sanctuary for one and all, a conceit she has continued. She plays both the soft and gritty sides of her character with impressive dexterity and offers the film’s best performance. Edmund MacDonald sneers impressively as the sneaky Joe Turner, and Robert Sterling is his polar opposite as the rule-abiding young deputy. Sheila Ryan isn’t particularly interesting as the love interest for both Cisco and Billy, but Chris-Pin Martin gets to play Gordito as broadly as he wants as the film’s comic relief.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film’s original 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in this MOD release. The elements used for the transfer were in very good shape as sharpness is superb, and the grayscale throughout is consistently rendered even with blacks that aren’t quite as deep as one would wish. There are some stray dust specks here and there and a little damage late in the film, but this is one of the very best transfers in the Fox MOD program that I’ve reviewed. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so there are 6 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 3.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. The dialogue is clear and clean throughout even with a little low level hiss that can be heard on occasion and some muffled crackle early on. But the age of the sound elements doesn’t restrict fidelity as the music and sound effects are fitting for the era of their recording and come through quite well.

    Special Features: 0/5

    There are no bonus features with this MOD disc.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Fans of the star, the character, or the genre will likely be delighted with The Gay Caballero. The film is engaging every step of the way, and the elements used in this Fox MOD are much sharper and clearer than many of the other releases in the Fox Cinema Archives program. Recommended!

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    4 Comments

    Thanks for the great review Matt.

    Could this be a change in attitude at the Fox Archives?

     

    Call me a pessimist.

    Thanks for the great review Matt.

    Could this be a change in attitude at the Fox Archives?

     

    Call me a pessimist.

    It's a B&W Academy ratio film. These are arguably the easiest in Fox's archives to bring to home video with quality results. Perhaps it could be...perhaps not. Only time will tell.

    Yes, they can't easily screw up the aspect ratio as they often do with Cinemascope films, but they can certainly issue lousy Academy transfers, too. Wabash Avenue, Wilson, and Three Little Girls in Blue were all terrible, I thought. Of course, those are Technicolor films, and we know what kind of mediocre elements they are working with with color films of that era.

    "Wake Up and Live" is a black & white academy ratio stinker.

    They couldn't even be bothered to attach a complete opening Fox logo on that one.

    Maybe they didn't know where to obtain a replacement Fox logo from. :wacko:

     

    It's pleasing however to hear positive reports on other B&W titles.

     

    But, I'll still stay the pessimist until they prove me wrong.