HomeTheaterForum recently sat down with Gretchen Wayne to discuss the release of Hondo on Blu-ray for the first time - and its debut at home in widescreen format. While the 3D version is not yet available, the daughter-in-law of the Duke hopes that it is just a matter of time before fans get the chance to see the larger than life actor in 3D at home!
HTF: Gretchen, thank you for talking with Home Theater Forum today.
Gretchen: My pleasure.
HTF: So I am sure that you are excited about Hondo coming out on June 5th
Gretchen: I really am, it looks so good and I’m so proud of it and I hope everyone gets an opportunity to see it in this format and enjoys it as much as I have enjoyed bringing to this particular iteration.
HTF: And to finally be in widescreen!
Gretchen: Yes, just the way it was originally filmed with its 1.85 aspect ratio
HTF: Exactly. So, so talk a little bit about getting this film ready for its Blu‑ray release.
Gretchen: Well, we had already restored it so some of the work was done and we had already done the 5.1 sound so it was really a matter of taking the film and going through it to see where we could intensify and improve the color. And certainly the biggest thing is to bring it out in widescreen. This is the way the film was intended to be seen and you are far more involved in the story and have a much greater appreciation for the desolate desert scenery that’s presented. And the color looks spectacularly
HTF: And the 3D elements were previously restored which were used in getting this 2D ready
Gretchen: Yes, and we restored the 3D aspect of this film further. But this this isn’t released in 3D and its hard for me to talk about it. I’m sorry that Paramount didn’t see wisdom to release it that way but, I think they want to make sure when they do bring it out in 3D, that there will be a more homes with 3D capable players and 3D‑capable television, so you’re really able to see it and enjoy it.
Gretchen: There are a lot of them out there, but they’re not as common as one would think. Now, I can show this theatrically in 3D, and I have. I was invited to show it at the Cannes Film Festival about four years ago and that was a big thrill. We were invited as part of the Classical Film Division. My daughter was greeted with standing ovations and whoops and hollers when it was shown. It was a real thrill and now it looks better in the newer 3D than it did then. So with all the technology you’re able to make a film better and better.
HTF: I agree completely. On our boards there are plenty of fans, not only of the great John Wayne’s work, but of 3D films and classic 3D films. And I see it as a bit of a chicken and egg situation where there’s a large audience out there that would be buying these televisions if these great classic films like House of Wax and, of course, Hondo –
Gretchen: And Bwana Devil.
HTF: Were to be released on Blu‑ray in 3D. It can be frustrating not seeing these classics made available for fans.
Gretchen: I agree. And with these great films it isn’t so much the dynamic or trick of the choreography or the scene with flames licking out of the screen from House of Wax for example, today there is a great deal of depth of field with some of the 3D films that are coming out
HTF: Indeed. One of the landmarks films being James Cameron’s Avatar, and of course Scorsese’s Hugo
Gretchen: I even saw Beowulf in 3D (laughs). I’m probably the only one that understood the story in the theater, I think.
Gretchen: I just didn’t care for it for the film but the 3D was very good. And I thought Avatar was very good and I liked The Polar Express and thought that was very well in 3D. And when that ticket is flying around in the air and the snowdrops, flakes are coming down, you really truly felt you could reach up and grab it.
Gretchen: There’s a scene in Hondo where he sits at the table and in her kitchen and she’s fixed the meal for him and in 3D you feel like you are seated at the table with him. It’s way out in front of you. And it is very interesting that in the 1950s they got that. They understood it.
HTF: Well, they understood the composition of a shot –
HTF: And I think that’s part of the problem in some of the 3D films today is that they can do so much with the CGI, they rely on it for in-your-face effects, but they lack a compositional prowess that really serves the 3D in the film
Gretchen: Yeah. And this Blu‑ray looks so good you just really get a sense of what the 3D could look like. And, it’s so, you know, I just feel, you feel drawn into the scene. Really it’s outstanding.
HTF: So I wanted to ask you what thought of Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of the great Rooster Cogburn character that your father-in-law made vibrant in the True Grit remake.
Gretchen: Well, here’s my feeling. They made the new film much closer to the book and it is really the story of the little girl.
Gretchen: And they followed that exactly. When Michael’s (Gretchen’s late husband and John Wayne’s son) dad made the film, he said I’m going to play it a certain way because I’m not going to be a heavy that the audience doesn’t like. And he played it with a lot more humor and made him more of the crazy uncle that you’d have up in the attic or something. Jeff Bridges to me is one of the better actors that we have and I love the film where he was a musician – Crazy Heart – and I felt sorry for him that no matter what he did the were going to compare him to John Wayne. And, I think he even said it, it was a bit of a lost cause. He played it admirably, but it’s tough. They’re always gonna hold you up to that.
HTF: So, so what else have you got up your sleeve for, for John Wayne fans?
Gretchen: I’ve got up my sleeve that I’d like to see McClintock in Blu‑ray.
HTF: Oh yes.
Gretchen: Because I think that would look wonderful - and in the widescreen. And I’d like to do High And The Mighty. I think that would be interesting.
HTF: So are these titles that you are actively working on restoration?
Gretchen: Not at this moment. We’ve just finished working on Hondo, so now we have to bring it to market. And then you take some time and start in again with the next project.
HTF: How important is it for you to have John Wayne’s films available in the high definition format for fans
Gretchen: Oh, absolutely and I get to see how lucky the audience is to see them. When somebody saw Hondo back in 1953 they thought it was great. And then you see it again in 1989 or ‘90 when Michael did it in VHS and they thought that was spectacular. So now that I’ve seen the 3D, this is as good as it gets.
HTF: So what do you consider your favorite John Wayne film if you had to pick one.
Gretchen: Well, I like different films for different reasons.
Gretchen: I love the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and I like black and white films so I like The Quiet Man and Red River.
HTF: Absolutely. Great films! Well, it has been a pleasure speaking with you. I am excited about Hondo coming out and looking forward to a 3D version hopefully in the near future
Gretchen: Thank you so much. Bye‑bye.