The Long Riders Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    14,690
    Likes Received:
    3,091
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template


    The Long Riders (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Walter Hill

    Studio: MGM/UA
    Year: 1980

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 100 minutes
    Rating: R
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English; DTS 2.0 French, Italian, others
    Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 19.99


    Release Date: June 7, 2011

    Review Date: June 10, 2011



    The Film

    4.5/5


    Ambiance goes a long way to hide the otherwise tiny flaws inherent in Walter Hill’s hypnotic western The Long Riders. With meticulous attention to detail both before and behind the camera, a first-rate cast, and a real-life story so interesting that it begs to rival the best fiction, The Long Riders constitutes one of the high water marks for the genre between the end of the traditional era for westerns and the soon-to-emerge new era begun by Dances With Wolves. It’s a story that’s been told many times in the movies but never with quite so much seeming verisimilitude or enacted by real-life brothers playing real-life brothers. That’s quite a novel touch that distinguishes an already distinguished endeavor.


    After the Civil War, a trio of sibling outlaw families band together to form one of the most successful bandit gangs in the Old West. The Youngers headed by Cole (David Carradine), Jim (Keith Carradine), and Bob (Robert Carradine), brothers Jesse (James Keach) and Frank (Stacy Keach) James, and Clell (Randy Quaid) and Ed (Dennis Quaid) Miller begin with single banks and, after Ed is dismissed from the group, branch out to robbing stagecoaches and trains. When local law officials have no luck tracking down the band, they enlist the Pinkerton Detective Agency who begins a lengthy series of operations to bring down the gang. It all culminates in Northfield, Minnesota, where events come to a head.


    If there is any problem with the Bill Bryden-Steven Phillip Smith-Stacy and James Keach screenplay, it’s that there are far too many characters to do justice to in a film that’s less than two hours long (consider the length of Lawrence Kasdan's epic Wyatt Earp dealing with an equal number of main characters). The tidbits of information we get about the lives and loves of these seven men easily occupy the time with no dead patches, and one begins to understand why other films have often singled out only two or three of these famous outlaws when pictorializing their various histories. True to the film’s bridging the gap between the old-fashioned western and the efforts of a newer generation of filmmakers, there is discreet nudity on occasion but extreme violence and deaths that are sometimes protracted to seeming infinity by the use of slow motion. Director Hill puts his stamp on several memorable action scenes including an edge-of-your-seat knife fight and, of course, the climactic last job that goes so catastrophically awry, but he doesn’t shy away from more intimate moments between the men and their ladies even if there is never enough time to explore their conflicting needs for domesticity and the restlessness of inactivity that drives them to always another job. To keep things seeming even more authentic, Hill employs old-fashioned wipes between scenes and keeps the early part of the film in earth tones to suggest a long ago past.


    All of the gentlemen acquit themselves admirably with special mention going to the three Carradine brothers who evince not only a believable bond but also share undeniable screen charisma. James Keach is less magnetic as Jesse James than his brother Stacy is as Frank, and Dennis Quaid gets the shaft early when his Ed Miller is drummed out of the gang making his later appearances more sporadic. Nicholas and Christopher Guest cameo effectively as the Ford brothers Robert and Charlie while Felice Orlandi has some amusing scenes as a reporter hot after the story of the Pinkertons against the outlaws. James Whitmore, Jr. is determined if a trifle stiff as Pickerton lead detective Rixley. Of the ladies, Pamela Reed makes the strongest impression as Belle Starr, and Amy Stryker as Beth, a girl who strings along Ed Miller before settling for Bob Younger, likewise engages their domestic scenes. The marvelous Fran Ryan has steely fire within as Mrs. Samuel, the mother of the James boys.



    Video Quality

    4/5


    The film has been framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Apart from the soft title sequence, the picture is usually quite crisp and with color that’s appealing without getting anywhere close to over saturation. Flesh tones are nicely delineated. Though the opening half hour tends toward a brown color palette, later scenes take on a more natural color texture. Black levels are very good with effective shadow detail. There are dust specks that show up occasionally, most noticeable during one of the funeral scenes but on the whole, dirt is not a problem. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    4/5


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is very typical of its era with the well recorded dialogue sharing the track with plenty of ambient sounds, and Ry Cooder’s twangy and most effective score. Despite the mono encode, there’s impressive heft to the mix (a wild vortex of sounds engulfs the track during the Northfield sequence akin to LaMotta’s last round against Robinson in Raging Bull) and no age-related artifacts like crackle, hiss, or hum to distract from the overall presentation. It’s an excellent mono track with only the slightest distortion in the upper reaches of the mix during some early music interludes.



    Special Features

    1/5


    The original theatrical trailer is presented in 1080p (though lacking the clarity of the feature presentation) and runs 2 ½ minutes.



    In Conclusion

    4/5 (not an average)


    Walter Hill’s The Long Riders is an excellent historical western filled with enticing performances and plenty of Old West flavor. The video and audio do the period piece justice even if the film is deserving of more than a bare bones Blu-ray treatment it receives here. Recommended!




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. rayman1701

    rayman1701 Second Unit
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Outside Chicago
    Real Name:
    Ray Miller
    This is one of my all time favorite movies. I watched it numerous times on The Movie Channel when I was a kid, and it has always stuck with me and I've got the Laserdisc, and DVD. I got the Blu-ray in yesterday's mail so am looking forward to watching it over the weekend. So I'm glad to hear it's gotten a good transfer.
     
  3. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2000
    Messages:
    10,090
    Likes Received:
    2
    Nice review, watched the BD a few nights ago and agree on the A/V ratings.

    As for the film, this is a Western that's gradually grown in stature with me over the years each time I watched it.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,449
    Likes Received:
    4,808
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    I remember watching this film in a movie theater and I don't think it did well at the box office as I remembered a mostly empty movie theater, but I thought it was a good western. I'm going to try to view the BRD this weekend, but I have so many titles to watch so I'll try to get it done.


    Thanks for your fine review.









    Crawdaddy
     
  5. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    2,213
    Likes Received:
    531
    Real Name:
    Ben Hufbauer
    It wasn't a big success, but it wasn't a total flop like Heaven's Gate. The box office take was $15 million, which wasn't big at all but it was something 30 years ago...
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,449
    Likes Received:
    4,808
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    I watched this disc today and thought the video presentation was fine. This movie is kind of fascinating because it had four different sets of brothers in it.








    Crawdaddy
     

Share This Page