Two Rode Together is one of the lesser-known John Ford westerns, notwithstanding the fact that it stars James Stewart and Richard Widmark. The film is in some respects similar to Ford's 1954 classic, The Searchers (both films were written by screenwriter Frank Nugent), although in Two Rode Together the motivations of the principal characters are considerably less personal. Two Rode Together also is relatively light on action scenes, but the complexity of Stewart's cynical character and his sometimes contentious relationship with Widmark's character makes it a compelling film. Two Rode Together also takes an unflinching and disapproving look at the unsympathetic reactions which "respectable" people had toward women who were forced to become Comanche squaws.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 49 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayStandard Blu-ray Keep Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/13/2014
Lieutenant Jim Gary (Richard Widmark) is a U.S. Cavalry officer who leads his dusty and thirsty troops into the town of Tascosa, where he has been sent to meet with Marshal Guthrie McCabe (James Stewart). The initial impression of McCabe is that he is a laconic, easy-going man, but we quickly learn that first appearances can be deceiving. When two professional gamblers show up in Tascosa, McCabe advises them to have a drink at the saloon and get out of town. The gamblers are not inclined to obey his suggestion, but they immediately change their minds when they learn his name. Clearly, Marshal McCabe is not one to be trifled with.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Lt. Gary, who regards McCabe as a friend, has been sent to Tascosa by the commanding officer at Fort Grant, Major Frazer (John McIntire). Major Frazer wants McCabe to accompany Gary back to the fort. McCabe has a comfortable life in Tascosa, where the biggest law enforcement issue appears to be jailing residents who have had too much to drink. However, McCabe is motivated to get out of town for a while because the woman in his life, Belle Aragon (Annelle Hayes), who runs the local whorehouse, has been making noise about marrying him. McCabe therefore agrees to ride to Fort Grant with Lt. Gary's cavalry and find out what Major Frazer has in mind.
It turns out that the Army is being pressured to take action by settlers who have over the past decade or so had children kidnapped by Comanches. The Army has a good idea of where the children are being kept, but Major Frazer is prohibited by treaty from sending his troops into Comanche territory. McCabe, however, is a civilian, and he knows the Comanches extremely well. Frazer wants McCabe to go into Comanche territory and try to make a deal for the release of whatever missing children he can find. McCabe is reluctant. For one thing, he knows that any kidnapped boys who are still alive are likely living as Comanche braves, and the surviving girls would by now have been taken as squaws and probably have children. However, McCabe's more pressing concern is that there is nothing in the mission for him. The major offers him an officer's pay for the duration of the search, but for McCabe that amounts to a pittance. It turns out that he has his fingers in the pockets of every business in Tascosa, and he agrees to make the attempt only after the major gives him permission to make whatever financial deals he can with the civilian settlers. McCabe decides to trade rifles for the children, and he cuts a deal to be paid by the families of whatever children he can bring back.
Major Frazer instructs Lt. Gary to pretend to be a deserter and go along with McCabe. Gary is genuinely interested in finding and returning the missing children, and his relationship with McCabe becomes testy as it becomes apparent that the Marshal is on the rescue mission only for the money. Gary, in the meantime, has become attracted to tomboy Marty Purcell (Shirley Jones), a young woman who has lived with guilt for years because she hid when Comanches attacked the family and abducted her brother. The other settlers are a diverse and interesting lot. Mary McCandless (Jeanette Nolan) has become delusional since the loss of her son, and she repeatedly sees visions of him in the shadows. Ortho Clegg (Harry Carey Jr.) and Greeley Clegg (Ken Curtis) are two brawling brothers who have ambitions to romance Marty, even though she has no interest in them. Other familiar names in the cast include Andy Devine as Sergeant Posey, Woody Strode as a Comanche warrior, and Linda Cristal as a young woman who was forced to become a Comanche squaw.
Some critics regard Two Rode Together as one of John Ford's lesser films, but there is much in the film to admire and fans of the director and of the film's stars will definitely want to see it.
This Blu-ray disc from Twilight Time and Sony is gorgeous. The 1.85:1 1080p transfer has been encoded with the AVC codec and appears to be properly framed. The image is very sharp, colors are solid and accurate, black levels are excellent, and an appropriate level of film grain has been retained. The result is an exceptional film-like experience.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
Our resident film expert, Robert A. Harris, has viewed this Blu-ray release and has given it high marks. Please click this link to A few words about...™ Two Rode Together -- in Blu-ray for his comments.
Mr. Harris also reports that Two Rode Together "sounds as brilliant as it did when it opened in theatres in 1961." The English 1.0 DTS-HD MA audio has the inherent limitations of its source material, but it is crystal clear, free of distortion, and the dialogue is entirely understandable. English SDH subtitles are available for those who need them.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
The extras on this Blu-ray disc consist of the original theatrical trailer and an isolated audio track of George Duning's evocative score.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
An eight-page illustrated booklet contains a very worthwhile essay by the always informative and entertaining Julie Kirgo. She points out that the production of Two Rode Together coincided with the death of John Ford's longtime friend Ward Bond, and he made the film while experiencing a bout of deep depression. She also makes the provocative suggestion that if it had not been for Two Rode Together, Ford likely would never have made The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
While John Ford himself did not much care for Two Rode Together, it is a worthwhile and memorable film. It is being released in a limited edition of 3,000 copies, so readers who are interested in purchasing it should go to the Screen Archives website and verify that copies are still available.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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