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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: "The Ox-Bow Incident" (with screenshots)



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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Adam_Reiter

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Posted October 24 2003 - 11:27 AM

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The Ox-Bow Incident



Studio: 20th Century Fox

Year: 1943

Rated: N/A

Directed by: William A Wellman

Film Length: 75 Minutes

Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33:1

Audio: English Stereo, English Mono, Spanish Mono
Subtitled in English and Spanish

Bonus features:
-Commentary by Dick Eulain and William Wellman Jr.
-“Henry Fonda: Hollywood’s Quiet Hero” as seen on BIOGRAPHY on the A&E Network
-Still Gallery
-Restoration Comparison
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Release Date: November 4th, 2003









Movie...

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Fox Studios throws us another great movie from their Studio Classics releases. The Ox-Bow Incident, starring the late, great, Henry Fonda! Black and white, or classic films aren’t my usual choice when I choose to watch a DVD, but I did like this movie a lot. It had a lot darker ending than I expected, and I am sure was very controversial for its time. I like that this film took a bold stand, and made of very good statement with the ending.


Here is the synopsis from the back cover:
Gil Carter (Henry Fonda) and Art Croft (Henry Morgan) ride into a town frustrated by the prevalence of cattle rustlers. Suddenly, word comes that a popular rancher has been murdered, which puts the already enraged town over the edge. When the spiteful mayor forms a posse, Gil and Croft are swept up in their mission – to seek vengeance – even upon those innocent of any wrong-doing. As it becomes clear that blood-lust may win out over rationality, tension mounts in this “masterpiece” with its timeless message about the dangers of mob mentality.







Picture...

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Picture quality for this DVD was outstanding for a black and white transfer. Fox really did a superb job with the restoration! At first I wasn’t quite sure of the picture quality because black and white films are a rarity in my collection. It wasn’t until I got to the restoration part of the special features that I realized what they actually did for this film. The differences to me were simply amazing, considering what they had to work with! The restoration for this film to DVD must have been simply painstaking!

Comparatively, the picture is very clear and sharp. The 1993 film transfer is very soft and muddy looking, and everything sort of blends together. In this 2002 digital restoration, the picture is leaps and bounds over its previous 1993 transfer. Picture contrasts is outstanding, and the blacks are a very deep black. There is the occasional film damage and still a lot of film dirt, but with this 2002 version, you can see that they minimized film dirt substantially! There is also some film grain throughout the film, but you mostly see it in shots with background sky.

Overall, in my book, and not being really a black and white aficionado, I’d say this is a VERY impressive transfer! I give the picture quality of this DVD 5 stars just for the restoration factor alone. It isn’t a perfect picture, but it’s the best transfer that this movie will probably ever get! Compared to other old black and white classics, I think this DVD’s picture quality is outstanding. The clincher for me is when you watch the theatrical trailer, you are seeing clips of the film from the 1993 transfer, and the picture quality isn’t even in the same ballpark as this 2002 restoration! Bravo to FOX!




SEE FOR YOURSELF!: (click on the picture for a bigger version of the screen-shot)


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Film Transfer Comparisons




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Click here for more film comparisons!






Picture Quality Rating:
Picture: 5 / 5
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Sound...

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The DVD has both stereo and mono. Neither soundtrack was really spectacular, but I liked both of them, each for its own reasons. I like the stereo track because it gave the movie a bit more spaciousness, and sounded a bit more familiar to my ears. However, the stereo track’s drawback was that it made everything sound hollow. I ended up watching 3/4th of the DVD in mono. I figure mono is how people would have seen this movie back in the day, so I felt that the mono soundtrack represented the movie how it was meant to be seen.

The mono track did suffer from a bit of hiss (as did the stereo track), and crackled very easily at loud sounds such as gunshots, or when the music kicked in strong. Problem is, you had to turn the volume up in mono because the dialog was lower, but then you would get this crackling when any loud noise kicked in. It was sort of a catch 22, but I dealt with it. Even thought the stereo was hollow, I don’t recall the crackling as bad, so people might prefer to watch this DVD with the stereo track.








Sound Quality Rating:
Sound: 3 / 5
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Extras...



This DVD has some very good extras! [/b]




Commentary

This commentary is by Dick Eulain (Professor at the University of New Mexico) and William Wellman Jr. Dick Eulain is a specialist on Western Films, and William Wellman Jr. is of course the son of the Director for The Ox-Bow Incident, William Wellman.

Apparently, this is a very hard movie to get made. In the time it was pitched, the country was about to get involved in the war, and nobody wanted to make such a grim story in that time period. Budget was very low for this film, and had to be shot mostly on an indoor sound stage. Only 1 day was shot outside in the desert!

This film did not get a very good response from audiences when it came out, but critics loved it. It won many awards. The National Board of Review gave it Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and the Academy gave it a Best Picture Award Nomination. It wasn’t until many years later that audiences appreciated the film. This was one of the first dark westerns. Usually westerns ended on a good note when the good guy saves the day, but this film is a much different.

I would recommend listening to the commentary! Lots and lots of very good info about the film!




Biography: Henry Fonda: Hollywood’s Quiet Hero

This is a nice episode of Biography on the A&E channel about Henry Fonda. It’s a recap of Henry Fonda’s life, and how he got into acting. There are interviews and comments on Fonda from Ron Howard, Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, and Richard Dryfus to name a few. “Henry Fonda personified and new breed of American screen hero, lean, brooding, soft-spoken, and filled with integrity” as the narrator puts it. Fonda’s film career stretched over 50 years. He was born May 16th, 1905 in Nebraska. His father was a printer, and his mother was a housewife. The Fonda family were descendants of the first Colonial Pioneers, and could trace their lineage all the way back to the 1600’s. Henry was a very shy and introspective young man. He left home in 1923 to become a writer. He eventually dropped out of school and came back home. In 1925, a family friend, Marlin Brando’s Mother, approached Henry and offered him a chance to star in a play at the Omaha Community Theater. This is where it all began for Henry Fonda!

Total Running Time: 44:59 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3





Theatrical Trailer

A great classic style movie trailer, almost like a mini documentary! Henry Fonda speaks about the movie, and clips are shown from the film. This is a great trailer, because you can really see the difference between the picture quality of the restored film that you had just watched, compared to the un-restored clips of the movie in this trailer. It’s quite a difference!

Total Running Time: 2:12 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3





Restoration Comparison

Several split screens showing comparisons of the 1993 Film Transfer next to the 2002 Film Restoration, scenes of the 2002 film restoration compared to the 2002 Final Digital Video Restoration, and finally the 2002 Final Digital Video Restoration compared to the 1993 Film Transfer.

Aspect Ratio: 4:3





Still Gallery:

17 various black and white behind the scenes pictures.








Extras / Bonus Features Rating:
Extras: 3 / 5
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Menus...

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Conclusion...




"The Ox-Bow Incident" is a great Fox Classic, and this DVD is a superb restoration that brings this movie as close to its original glory as it’s ever been so far! This should be a must buy for classic DVD collectors!

I can definitely RECOMMEND buying this DVD!







This has been,
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#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Piers C

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Posted October 24 2003 - 11:34 AM

Thanks for providing so many screen shots & details in your review Adam!

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Adam_Reiter

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Posted October 24 2003 - 11:38 AM

That's what I am here for!!

That's what I do!!

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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted October 24 2003 - 11:43 AM

looks good.
at $15 retail i'll probably pick it up on street date.

so now whats the Fox classic release for December and any news on Laura?

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted October 24 2003 - 11:51 AM

Great review and I can't wait for my copy.

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#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Jon Robertson

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Posted October 24 2003 - 12:34 PM

Indeed - an extraordinary and much-maligned Hollywood classic. Can't wait for my disc now!

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted October 24 2003 - 10:21 PM

Adam - fantastic job giving us a really clear view of what to expect Posted Image

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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted October 24 2003 - 10:45 PM

Great review. Posted Image Posted Image

Quote:
so now whats the Fox classic release for December and any news on Laura?


There will not be a Fox Studio Classic release in December. Laura is still indefinitely postponed.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#9 of 19 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted October 24 2003 - 11:13 PM

any movie with Henry Fonda is a must see.

great review Adam and look forward to watch this one shortly

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#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 25 2003 - 12:41 AM

Adam,

I'm beside myself. What a great job you
have done with this review.

I never heard of this movie till now, and
because of your review, I am off to preorder
it through Lasers Edge.

Thanks for the time you put into this.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#11 of 19 OFFLINE   rich_d

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Posted October 25 2003 - 04:08 AM

Terrific DVD review. What a great job!

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted October 25 2003 - 01:22 PM

Ron - this is an excellent film. Just saw it for the first time in film class just a few weeks ago. It's a great statement regarding the southern lynchings of the early 1900's - using a 1870's fictional incident to "disguise" the statement.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Brook K

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Posted October 25 2003 - 05:28 PM

Thanks, when Fox announced their classic line, this was the one disc (besides Sunrise of course) that I wanted. I didn't realize the release date had been moved up from December. Sounds like another great job by Fox!!
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#14 of 19 OFFLINE   SteveGon

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Posted October 26 2003 - 03:00 AM

Thanks for the review - this is another must-have for me. Posted Image

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Tommy G

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Posted October 31 2003 - 06:02 AM

Wow, how did I overlook this one. I'm off to pre-order it right now. Thanks Adam! Great review. Posted Image
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#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Eric Peterson

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Posted October 31 2003 - 07:35 AM

Adam,

Thanks for the detailed review. I've been looking forward to this disc and have never seen the entire film, but will shortly.

I must admit that I was a little disturbed by your opening statement about not watching many B&W films. I'm glad to hear that you really enjoyed this one and myself or other members of the forum would be happy to suggest other great classic B&W films. Personally, I watch more B&W films that anything else, but that's just a personal preference and I'm a child of the 80s.

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted October 31 2003 - 08:09 AM

A very fine review Adam. And of a very fine film.
¡Time is not my master!

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Adam_Reiter

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Posted October 31 2003 - 08:13 AM

Thanx guys! I had a lot of fun reviewing this one! Posted Image

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason Borchers

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Posted October 31 2003 - 10:45 AM

.