Directed by Jacques Tourneur, the son of Maurice, who directed some wonderful early silent films before returning to Europe.
Jacques will probably be best known here for his 1940s work at RKO, inclusive of three films for the Lewton unit – Cat People (1942), and I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man – both 1943. In addition, he directed Out of the Past (1947) The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Curse of the Demon (1957) and The Comedy of Terrors for AiP in 1963.
Wichita was his first film in CinemaScope, for which the process was used magnificently by DP Harold Lipstein, who later shot Von Ryan’s Express.
Another connection is that it was one of the new mid-budget Allied Artists productions (formerly Monogram) via producer Walter Mirisch, who went on to make some other films – some with larger budgets.
The Allied Artists connection is also interesting as they brought in Joel McCrea and Vera Miles for the leads, as well as some excellent supporting players. Jody McCrea, aka Joel McCrea Jr. appears as a gunman. He’s probably best known for a series of Beach Blanket productions.
Warner Archive has created a new master for this film. I’ll not call it “Restored,” as that moniker has been relegated to almost every new release, inclusive of new films, inclusive of the “Miraculously Restored Barbie!” Near the top of that list was the brilliantly restored The Little Mermaid from Disney.
A great deal of work has been done, but I have’t yet come up with the proper name. Once I do, that will also most assuredly be purloined by marketing people. I need something that can be trademarked.
Wichita has not been “Restored.” It’s been attended to in other ways.
Bottom line. It looks and sounds terrific. Color has been ummm… brought back to appear as it did in 1955. Grain, density black levels all fall in line with this type of ummm… work.
Wichita is also a bit of an oddball film, as it may come across of impersonal, or oddly indirect, which seems to be part of the Tourneur texture of filmmaking.
This is the first time that I’ve seen it looking as it does since the initial theatrical run, as a youth, and seeing it again in CinemaScope leaves an indelible impression.
This is a film, possibly unknown to many, that is absolutely worth the price of admission, especially as funds were spent doing “stuff” to it.
Image – 5
Audio – 5 (DTS-HS MA 2.0 Monaraul)
Pass / Fail – Pass
Plays nicely with projectors – Yes
Worth your attention – 8.5
Upgrade from DVD – Without a doubt!
Slipcover rating – n/a
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