Director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart teamed up to make some of the most memorable Westerns of the Fifties. Among them are Winchester '73, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur, and The Far Country. The last of their Western collaborations, 1955's The Man From Laramie, makes its debut on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a typically gorgeous transfer courtesy of Sony.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayStandard Blu-ray Keep Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/10/2014
Will Lockhart (James Stewart) leads several wagons of freight from Laramie, Wyoming through Apache territory enroute to the town of Coronado. Near the end of the journey he halts the wagons and camps for the night near Dutch Creek, which was the scene of a massacre of U.S. Cavalry by Apaches. Lockhart's interest in the slaughter is unclear at first, but it turns out to be the major motivation for his subsequent actions. When he arrives in Coronado he makes the acquaintance of Barbara Waggoman (Cathy O'Donnell), who has inherited the town's general store following the death of her father. Barbara is surprised that Lockhart made it to Coronado without being attacked, and she is ambivalent about the delivery of the supplies because she would just as soon close the store and leave Coronado. Lockhart's interest in Coronado is piqued when he discovers that a repeating rifle which is for sale in Barbara's store was obtained through a trade with an Apache.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Lockhart is hoping to get a full load of freight for his return trip to Laramie, but nobody is taking a chance on shipping supplies through Apache country. Barbara suggests that he load up on salt which can be shoveled for free on the edge of the desert. However, when his crew gets to work in the salt flats they are confronted by Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol), Barbara's cousin, and the cowboys from his father's vast cattle ranch. Dave accuses Lockhart of stealing because the salt is located on the ranch. Lockhart is lassoed by one of Dave's cowboys while the others set fire to the wagons. Then, in an unspeakable act of cruelty, Dave begins shooting Lockhart's mules. However, before he can complete the deed Dave is interrupted by Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy), the ranch foreman. He orders Dave and the other cowboys back to the ranch, but by then Lockhart's wagons have been destroyed. One of his men, Charlie O'Leary (Wallace Ford), encourages Lockhart to return to Laramie, but Will decides to stay in Coronado. He wants to get payback for the loss of his wagons and mules, but more importantly he wants to find out who is supplying the Apaches with repeating rifles. O'Leary, whose mother was an Apache, volunteers to go into Apache territory and try to get some information about the source of the rifles. Lockhart then heads to town to confront Dave Waggoman.
Anthony Mann always was interested in character development, and The Man From Laramie is no exception. Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp), the owner of the ranch, is a widower and Dave is his only child. Alec's relentless pursuit of land and wealth has led him to ruthlessly trample on anyone who has stood in his way. The only exception is Kate Canady (Aline MacMahon), who once was engaged to Alec and who has refused to sell her ranch to him. Alec thinks of Vic Hansbro as a son and has promised him a share of the ranch one day, but blood is thicker than water and to Vic’s chagrin Dave will always come first. This has caused Dave and Vic to have a strained relationship, as Dave is acutely aware of the fact that his father considers Vic to be the more reliable and mature of the two. Will Lockhart's interest in the repeating rifles is explained when we learn that his younger brother was one of the cavalry who were killed at Dutch Creek. Plainly put, Lockhart is out for revenge.
The Man From Laramie is based upon a popular Saturday Evening Post story by Thomas T. Flynn and was adapted for the screen by Philip Yordan and Frank Burt. James Stewart is excellent as the obsessed and determined Lockhart, who will let no one interfere with his efforts to learn who bears responsibility for the death of his brother. Arthur Kennedy does a fine job as the conflicted ranch foreman, and Alex Nicol is suitably menacing as the hot-tempered Dave. As portrayed by Donald Crisp, Alec Waggoman is in some respects a surprisingly sympathetic character. Aline MacMahon steals several of her scenes as Alec's ranching rival and spurned lover.
The film contains several realistic action scenes, including a fistfight which takes place primarily inside a pen of cattle. There also is one very brutal scene involving Dave and Will which will make viewers squirm even though it is not particularly graphic. The Man From Laramie is a multi-layered film which, as with nearly all Anthony Mann films, will give viewers plenty to think about.
The Man From Laramie was one of the first Westerns to be filmed in CinemaScope, and the 2.55:1 1080p Technicolor image beautifully shows off the magnificent scenery of the locations in the vicinity of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This Blu-ray is encoded with the AVC codec and the image is consistently sharp and free of damage. Colors are vivid and accurate and the retention of an appropriate level of film grain contributes to a pleasing film-like experience. Credit must be given to art director Cary Odell and cinematographer Charles Lang (who also filmed such memorable Westerns as The Magnificent Seven and One-Eyed Jacks). Sony and Twilight Time have once again delivered a first-class Blu-ray.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is excellent. The surround channels are utilized primarily to provide a wide soundstage for George Duning's evocative and rousing score. Every word of dialogue is clear and understandable, and English SDH subtitles are available for those who need them. The original sound mix reportedly was 4-track stereo, so this Blu-ray presumably does a fine job of replicating how the film sounded in stereo-equipped theaters in 1955.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The extras on this Blu-ray disc include a teaser trailer and the original theatrical trailer. I caution against watching the theatrical trailer before viewing the feature because the trailer contains several spoilers.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
The isolated music track includes sound effects.
An eight-page color booklet includes a reproduction of original poster art and a typically incisive essay by Julie Kirgo.
Anthony Mann is one of my favorite all-time directors. He turned out exceptional films in a variety of genres, ranging from film noir to Westerns to war films to historical epics. The Man From Laramie is a fine example of why Mann is held in high esteem by film aficionados and it is now available in a superior Blu-ray edition. It is being pressed in a limited edition of 3,000 copies and readers who are interested in purchasing it should go to the Screen Archives website and confirm that copies are still available.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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