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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: True Grit



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7 replies to this topic

#1 of 8 JustinCleveland

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Posted May 21 2007 - 06:18 AM

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True Grit: Special Collector's Edition

John Wayne is one of America’s premiere actors, his films resonating because of their simplicity. His characters stood for a generation as an example of what men should be: strong, straightforward, and earnest. Although “True Grit” came at the tail-end of the era of the Western-genre, a year after the Western swan-song-opus “Once Upon A Time in the West,” the acting and cinematography make it an exemplar film, and earning Wayne his only Oscar win for one of his most complex characters.

“True Grit” follows an unlikely trio through the wilds of Indian country in search of a killer. Organized by Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), the rough-and-tumble daughter of the deceased, the group, composed of a hard-nosed, over-the-hill, drunken Marshall Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) and the straight-laced Ranger LeBouf (Glen Campbell) who happens to be seeking the murderer for another, similar crime. The film is driven by the personality conflicts between the male protagonists, while Mattie continues to push them toward their goal. Darby’s performance is stellar, as her clever plans are aided by her acerbic tongue. The film’s setting in the untamed West heightens the tension of the quest because of the ever-present, looming threat of the native tribes.

“True Grit” is a satisfying movie, well-filmed and directed, showcasing a classic Western style. I am often struck by a sense of unreality in John Wayne films, because they are stiff and phony, reflecting an idealized view of the era. “True Grit” is different: the actors create deep, multifaceted characters that play well in the frame director Henry Hathaway observes. Created on the edge of the auteur period of American cinema, Hathaway puts his own stamp on the proceedings, letting these talented actors room to create their own characters. The supporting cast, including Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall—the stars of tomorrow—add a lot to the film.

Cynical realism and modern sensibilities presented as a classic Wayne Western, “True Grit” has heart, beautiful vistas, plenty of gunplay, and an ambiguous moral message. It moves slow through the first half, but the rush in the last half-hour more than makes up for any shortcomings.

Video:
Despite its age, “True Grit” looks phenomenal. There is a slight touch of grain, but nary a blemish, speck, or stain. Colors are bright and vibrant, and the lines clean. The only qualm I have comes from a few of the daylight scenes, which result in a soft, haloed picture. The bulk of the film looks good, however. I have trouble believing the movie is forty-years of age; it looks that good.

Audio:
While the video is sterling, the audio is lacking, but not to any great degree. Dialogue sounds canned and tinny, the 5.1 track makes little use of the surround channels, and the music cues have a limited dynamic range. LFE response is light and the high frequencies sound clipped. It is never distracting or

Extras:
This single-disc set has a good mix of film-focused, making-of, and historical extras, beginning with a nice commentary from a trio of academics who study the myth of the American West, Western films and literature. The three explore the movie from a variety of perspectives, and comparing it to various other Westerns. The discussion is lively and fascinating.

“True Writing” is a featurette that compares the original novel to the final film product, using retrospective interviews, experts, and behind-the-scenes photographs. “Working with The Duke” discusses the process, unsurprisingly, of working with John Wayne. It’s a celebration of the actor and his personal character, and what he brought to the parts he played.

While the film was set in Oklahoma, Texas (and meant to be in Arkansas), it was actually filmed in a ranching community in Colorado. “Aspen Gold” is a documentary that looks at the area the movie was made. Less focused on the movie and more on the mythic reality of the American West, “The Law and the Lawless” is a featurette about the era depicted in “True Grit.”

Overall:
Everything clicks in “True Grit,” resulting in a well-made movie in a classic, almost utopist style. Western fans would be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining way to spend two hours.

#2 of 8 Harpozep

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Posted May 21 2007 - 06:53 AM

Thanks for the review and trip down memory lane.Posted Image

I guess I'll be adding this to my collection . It can sit near The searchers. A john Wayne '50's movie and a '70's movie. Let's see any HD releases of other Wayne movies? It would be great to have one from each of his decades of acting in Westerns.

I'd vote for Stagecoach from the ''30's and El Dorado from the '60's ( I like the lighter feel of this comedy Western and of course the Duke's chemistry with Robert Mitchum.
More DUKE on HD optical discs please.

Nice list here:
http://en.wikipedia....ohn_Wayne#1920s

I have to agree with you too about so much unreality in so many of the Wayne westerns. Often they are idealized representations of the eras from which they are made. A lot of our culture is like that.Same goes for today's creations.
I own a comic Book store and a lot of older folks just cannot get into the newer more "reality" based comics. They yearn for the simpler comics from times gone past. Stories with Simpler motivations, no self doubt, no alimony payments or graphic slaughter, etc.
The opposite is true in a lot of the people reading comics today. That is they cannot really enjoy a lot of the older stuff because the material seems hackneyed, and full of less believable motivations and exposition.
A lot of today's movies and comics come from OUR time when we tend to really put a lot more of the human condition in our pop fiction, at least more reality based motivations and sobering grit. But true, we go overboard in these areas as well. A decent film reflecting this dichotomy is Pleasantvile with Toby Maguire. But I digress...........

John Wayne showed in True Grit, The Cowboys, Rooster Cogburn, etc, that he could act in a more modern sense and deliver the goods in more fleshed out roles. I'm happy some of these are coming to HD optical discs. Thanks again for the review!
Best,
Robert

#3 of 8 Dave Scarpa

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Posted May 21 2007 - 07:26 AM

I'm kinda in a quanderie , given that alot of Wayne films are starting to show up on HD-DVD Like the Upcoming Cowboys and Rio Bravo, I have to hesitate to wonder of this films and others will follow suit. So while I'd like to pick it up I might end up waiting a bit.
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#4 of 8 JustinCleveland

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Posted May 21 2007 - 12:17 PM

I will note that while the beginning of the film looks great, I should add that it degrades as it goes along. There are a couple of times when there seemed to be edge-enhancement halos so heavy that I though I had a film on my glasses. It is fleeting, but worth noting, post-review.

I still liked the movie, however. Almost contrary to the video quality, I liked it more as the film rolled on. The opening song had me very, very nervous. Posted Image

#5 of 8 Dan Lassiter

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Posted May 23 2007 - 02:43 PM

Justin,

How does the transfer on the new DVD compare to the previous one? Also,

you say that the disc is 5:1 while everything I've read says it's mono Dolby Digital. Maybe that's why you aren't hearing much in the surrounds.

Thanks
Dan


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#6 of 8 Bill:N

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Posted May 23 2007 - 11:31 PM

According to the comparison on DVDBeaver the Special CE does have a 5.1 track, whereas the previous did not. They also mention a definite improvement in clarity, which tails off toward the end of the film. I have yet to receive my copy so I cannot comment further.

#7 of 8 JustinCleveland

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Posted May 24 2007 - 06:58 AM

Dan,

Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the previous release for comparison.

#8 of 8 Colin Jacobson

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Posted May 24 2007 - 09:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Lassiter

How does the transfer on the new DVD compare to the previous one?

I liked the old transfer better. It was dirtier, but this one gets really soft and fuzzy after the 40-minute mark. I think the last 85 minutes is a mess.


Quote:
Also,

you say that the disc is 5:1 while everything I've read says it's mono Dolby Digital.

Then everything you've read is wrong. The new DVD definitely has a 5.1 track...
Colin Jacobson
http://www.dvdmg.com





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