Delmer Daves’ Jubal may be thought of by some as Othello in the Old West, but its resemblances to Shakespeare’s tragic play are at best superficial. Instead, it’s better to think of Jubal as a strong, solid western with some excellent performances and some gorgeous widescreen western panoramas. There’s a love quadrangle at work here that is not without interest, and the resolution is satisfying if not completely free of problems.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
Audio: English PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 41 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 05/14/2013
Jubal Troop (Glenn Ford) is found bloody and dying on the trail by rancher Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine) and is brought back to his house for rest and recuperation. Though he wasn’t looking for a job, Jubal is offered one by Shep and is so adept at working on the ranch that he’s soon made ranch foreman much to the distaste of Pinky (Rod Steiger), a loudmouth ranch hand who feels he’s entitled to the job. Shep’s beautiful wife Mae (Valerie French) is also very taken with the new ranch foreman and makes a play for Jubal, but he resists her allure out of respect for his friendship to Shep. Having had his own designs on Mae, Pinky falsely confesses to Shep that Mae and Jubal have been having an affair behind his back which leads to a series of tragic and life-changing events.
The Production Rating: 4/5
Director Delmer Daves and Russell S. Hughes have adapted Paul Wellman’s novel for the screen, though they’ve rather turned each character into a type with few dimensional colors (Jubal’s the perfect friend, Shep is the honest employer, Pinky’s a snake, and Mae is a vixen). The storytelling is mostly solid, that is, until the ludicrous final quarter hour where men who witnessed Jubal’s self defense against a rampaging Shep remain strangely silent for no good reason allowing him to be hunted unfairly. The movie finds director Daves working rather unimaginatively in Cinemascope until some beautiful compositions in the film’s second half: during Pinky’s rabble rousing speech the posse is spread interestingly across the entire expanse of the screen with gorgeous mountain vistas in the distance and a later scene where the posse is chasing Jubal across the landscape has a staggeringly beautiful shot from high above showing the chase from an eagle’s eye perch.
Glenn Ford offers one of his most likeable performances as the title character. He’s honest and forthright mightily resisting the continual come-ons from Mae. Valerie French’s temptress is fairly standard without much nuance, and she sometimes has a brittle way of delivering her lines, but she’s certainly alluring. Ernest Borgnine acts Shep with full hearted amicability though his sudden distrust of his best friend seems a bit abrupt (blame the script, though, rather than Borgnine’s performance). Rod Steiger as Pinky gives one of his overly mannered performances of the period suggesting his character’s psychotic nature a bit too obviously for comfort. Charles Bronson has a nice supporting turn as a new ranch hand who becomes Jubal’s brother-in-arms, and Felicia Farr as the fresh-faced Naomi Hoktor who becomes Jubal’s real love interest does fine in an undemanding role.
The film’s 2.55:1 Cinemascope aspect ratio is grandly captured in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Restored by Sony’s Grover Crisp, this is another of his gorgeous cinematic products featuring outstanding sharpness and crisp, controlled color that’s just right and never overdone. Flesh tones have a pleasing realism without ever going too hot. Black levels at their best are nicely rendered, and shadow detail is excellent. The film has been divided into 27 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The PCM 2.0 (2.3 Mbps) stereo sound mix offers a very engaging mixture of well-recorded dialogue, apt sound effects, and David Raksin’s engaging but undemonstrative score. There are no traces of age-related artifacts like hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter, and the uncompressed sound offers a very appealing listening experience.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
18-Page Booklet: contains cast and crew lists, some color stills from the movie, and critic Kent Jones’ analytical look at the career of Delmer Daves with an emphasis on Jubal.
Special Features Rating: 1/5
Timeline: can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc and the title of the chapter you’re now in. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.
One of Criterion’s “bargain” releases due to a lack of bonus features, Jubal remains a sturdy and interesting western. The Blu-ray transfer is a real beauty, and fans of the film will likely be jubilant at the way Jubal looks and sounds. Recommended!
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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