A Few Words About A few words about... Tom Horn

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, May 27, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    While there have been reports this week of two collections of Steve McQueen's work arriving on the shelves of video stores, they are not only miles apart in marketing concepts, but one showing as little respect for both Mr. McQueen and his audience as one would think possible.

    Which means that I'll gloss over the first (from M-G-M) which I'll report here, in the nicest way possible, as poorly thought out and horribly marketed garbage, and go on to the only one that matters.

    While I'll give the task to others of reviewing Warner's Essential Steve McQueen Collection, I will share a few thought about Tom Horn.

    I've just viewed two westerns from Pararmount: Heller in Pink Tights, which must be one of the most colorful of current releases -- an interesting film by George Cukor -- and Warlock by Edward Dmytryk, a fine film made moreso considering the Blacklist era. Both are worth a look.

    But it was Tom Horn, which I haven't seen since its appearance on laserdisc (the DVD packaging is in error when it states "First-Time Widescreen Video Release"), that leaves its mark for a number of reasons.

    First, it is impossible not to notice that Mr. McQueen was older than the last time he had appeared, but the audience was unaware at that time that this March 1980 release would be followed by only one more in November.

    His look works for the film and the characterization. Tom Horn is a dinosaur of the old west, having survived into the early years of the twentieth century. His reason for living is simply to be out of doors; to be permitted to ride freely through the hills. His purpose is as a killer, hired by wealthy ranchers who don't wish to get their hands dirty, and who turn on his when he is no longer beneficial to their needs.

    Tom Horn is Mr. McQueen at the height of his powers, seen bigger than life in westerns settings magnificently captured by the lens of John Alonzo (Scarface), who had a bit part in The Magnificent Seven.

    The quality of the "other" McQueen set is made to look even worse when one considers the effort that went into bringing this beautifully photographed western to home video. If I were to attempt to compare Tom Horn to another western, it would probably be Will Penny (Paramount Home Viideo), another film worthy of your attention. Unlike most filmed westerns, there is a realilty about this film whch transcenes the medium.

    Doug Pratt, reviewing the laserdisc had the following comment, which still rings true.

    "If you want a movie where the hero wins and bad guys lose, go elsewhere, but if you want to see one of the greatest movie stars from the Sixties and Seventies ride off with glory into a premature sunset, then saddle up."

    Warner Home Video's Tom Horn comes highly recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I know there are those that didn't like this film. I for one did and watched it twice during it's theatrical run. At the time of this film's release, I was doing some reading on western characters and came across the story of Tom Horn, who was not a fictional character by any means. His story is one worth reading about because it shows how a man can go from being thought as a hero to some then become a tragic figure that faces the ultimate sentence of paying for one's sins.






    Crawdaddy
     
  3. William Miller

    William Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    MGM took 4 of their nice Steve McQueen DVD's and put them in a box set. What is so bad about that? And to refer to this box set as "poorly thought out and horribly marketed garbage" is not polite or correct in my opinion.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

    My apologies if anyone was offended by my post, but being polite is the last thing that concerned me, especially when a company shows so little respect for their potential customers.

    This is pure GM 1970s mentality. "We'll advertise our cars; place a pretty girl next to them; give them really neat names..."

    and when they fall apart we can sell the losers who bought them new ones.
    (And yes, I bought several).

    In this case, its "we've got these old DVDs laying around. Let's put them in a box, call them a "Collection" and see if the folks who just bought our new Great Escape SE, give it away and buy the new (old) one."

    I'm really sorry, but these folks should be out selling plastic combs. They're sending a good industry in the wrong direction. They're in desperate need of someone with a sense of cinema history, quality and a desire to give the customer their money's worth.

    If George Feltenstein might be willing to donate a few cells of DNA...

    RAH
     
  5. William Miller

    William Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, Warner is the greatest. But they also have done the same thing that MGM has done by throwing together old DVD's into a box set such as:

    [​IMG]

    And the Warner Steve McQueen box has previously released titles although 2 of them are upgraded editions which forces people who have the originals to make decisions about whether to keep the old ones or buy the new ones.

    And let's not forget the upcoming Bette Davis and Joan Crawford box sets with their mix of old and new titles.

    All studios do the same thing that MGM just did with their Steve McQueen titles. Have you seen the Ray Harryhausen box sets from Columbia?

    MGM has issued loads of great DVD's at low prices. Sure, they have really messed up here and there but they do not deserve such harsh comments.
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    A few points:

    I'm unaware of other studios marketing second class goods as part of a newly minted "collection."

    When WB releases a boxed set, the price for the entire set more than makes up for the possiblity of "gifting" a DVD or two if they're already owned. Want to purchase only the new releases from the WB McQueen set. It will cost you $38 for three films. Want to upgrade at least two others and possibly a third, the cost goes up by $10.

    I simply don't see a problem.

    Nor am I seeing a relationship between M-G-M's McQueen set and WB's re-packaging of four Elizabeth Taylor films (all current product) for a street price of $28 -- that's $7 per film.

    To be clear, my problem with the M-G-M McQueen set is the re-packaging of inferior product, which will be purchased by unsuspecting collectors, who have every right to expect fair treatment and technically current DVDs -- not old non-anamorphic versions available at close-out prices.

    Take a closer look comparing the WB vs. M-G-M McQueen sets, and the following will be found:

    M-G-M is offering four films, the newest release being from this time last year at a street price of $32. If purchased separately these same films total $38. This wouldn't be a bad deal if what many consider to be the important film in the group was not old goods.

    Warner Home Video is offering 6 films with a street price for the set at $48. If purchased separately the total rises to $84. Five of the six films are new product, two being special editions. Having not checked the old version of Papillon, which was released in 1999, I cannot be certain of it being anamorphic or non.

    Regardless, from a marketing perspective the message seems to be clear. Two entities each releasing their own Steve McQueen collection, possibly linked as a "Father's Day" promotion.

    One is $12 more expensive than the other. If one is purchasing simply by the numbers, and not as an educated consumer, many, many people will be purchasing the wrong set.

    My comments regarding the re-packaging for other titles in other WB boxed sets is precisely the same as the McQueen situation. The street price of the box is so far below that of the discs when purchased as units, that it simply doesn't matter.

    This is why WB is having great success with its boxed sets. If you want to own 50% or more of the titles found therein, there is no thought process necessary. The box is the answer, and the product is current.

    RAH
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    William,
    You need to checkout some reviews of that MGM box set because besides finally offering an anamorphic presentation of The Thomas Crown Affair, I think MGM kind of let us down with this box. MGM didn't give us the fine anamorphic SE of The Great Escape that was released just last year at this time in this current box, but the same old non-anamorphic transfer they gave us back in the early days of dvd. Then they compounded that mistake by giving us the same non-anamorphic transfer of Junior Bonner. Furthermore, besides Warner offering some improved transfers on a couple of films that they previously released on dvd, they're giving us newly released films on dvd plus some interesting new featurettes on Steve McQueen. Now, Warner is far from perfect which is true for all of the studios, but they're more consistent than any other studio when it comes to their non-animated products.






    Crawdaddy
     
  8. William Miller

    William Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    I am one of the biggest Steve McQueen fans on this planet. I guess that's why I am jumping into this so earnestly. It is impossible to compare the Warner and MGM Steve McQueen boxes because they both contain different movies!

    Now Warner is calling their box set "The Essential Steve McQueen Collection". Hmmmm. Any box set that does not have The Great Escape or The Magnificent Seven should not be called "essential". MGM has a better right to call their box set by that title because it contains 3 of Steve's best movies plus one of his lesser films. Now let's see what is "essential" about the Warner box. Tom Horn? I don't think so. Never So Few? Hardly. Bullit? Yes! The Getaway? O.K., maybe. The Cincinnati Kid? Most definitely!!!! Papillon? Another maybe.

    I will bet you that the casual DVD shopper at Best Buy would examine both box sets and if they had to buy only one, would probably buy the MGM one because of it's content. And I think that's what MGM had in mind by including the lower priced no frills versions.

    You will find no argument from me when comparing Warner with MGM. Of course, Warner is # 1 by a big margin over anyone else. We are very lucky that the biggest classic film library in the world is controlled by them. But MGM has generally done a good job with most of their much smaller library and I just don't think they deserve to be slammed so frequently. Last week I bought Dance with Me Henry, Escort West, Hour of the Gun, I'll Take Sweden, Invitation to a Gunfighter, The Noose Hangs High, Sam Whiskey and The Scalphunters all for $9.99 each and they look fine. I just finished watching the anamorphic Cinemascope Escort West and was thrilled to see this looking so good.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'd guess then we'll just have to disagree because I think MGM gave it's consumers an inferior product other than the anamorphic The Thomas Crown Affair and previously released The Magnificent Seven. I think there would be far less criticism if MGM included The Great Escape SE and an anamorphic presentation of Junior Bonner.







    Crawdaddy
     
  10. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    I own all the titles in that MGM box (and bashing it out with the non-anamorphic The Great Escape is a breathtakingly cynical move IMHO), but I still consider Warners Steve McQueen box as 'essential'...
     
  11. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I ordered both of them. It worked out to about AUD$6 per film for the MGM box, and about AUD$8 per film for the Warner box. Sure the Warner box will be better quality, but I wanted to get those MGM films, and getting them in the box seemed the best (cheapest) way.
     
  12. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    No way I would have bought the MGM set, already owning The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, and being slightly less interested in the other two (Junior Bonner and The Thomas Crown Affair) anyway.

    I also own Warner's Bullit and Papillon already, so I decided to order The Cincinatti Kid separately. I wasn't specifically interested in The Getaway and have always been a bit ambiguous about Tom Horn.

    Of course this thread pulled me over the line - except that The Cincinatti Kid was just shipped to me yesterday. Well, all I could do was to order Tom Horn separately too, wich I just did.

    Hate these threads! [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  13. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

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    THE GREAT ESCAPE SE is one of the greatest SEs of all times. It gives a terrific historical overview of the actual events and it goes well beyond the usual scholarly commentaries by piecing together previously recorded interviews by deceased participants like John Sturges and Charles Bronson. All McQueen fans NEED to own this since it is a brilliant example how he "operates" as and with a counterpoint to an ensemble cast.
    I look forward to a reassessment of TOM HORN. It is fascinating that his final two films (this and THE HUNTER) cast him is as a bounty hunter. This is how McQueen saw himself as a film actor. McQueen understood McQueen.
    I wish that Warner Brothers had brought out THE HONEYMOON MACHINE, SOLDIER IN THE RAIN (I think WB owns this through their Allied Artists holdings), and McQueen's most uncharacteristic and audacious performance--the 1977 adaptation of Ibsen's ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE by way of Arthur Miller. Hopefully, Paramount will bring out LOVE WITH A PROPER STRANGER. (Can't wait for THE REIVERS!!!)
     
  14. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Out of the MGM set I was most interested in Junior Bonner. In fact I had that as an individual order for CAD$10 or so, and noticed a pre-order listing for the MGM McQueen set for CAD$24. An extra CAD$15 for another three films looked like a decent deal.
     
  15. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    I passed by the MGM boxset and went with the Warner's and definitely consider it the better of the two. The new documentary in the Bullitt SE was very informative with alot more participation by various actors, directors,and stuntmen that made it quite enjoyable. Some that come to mind are his first and second wives, Robert Vaughn, Eli Wallach, Richard Attenborough, Susan Pleshette, Martin Landau, Peter Yates,and his son Chad among others. Oh, and to drive the point home between the two sets there were a few of MGM's offering left and only one Warner's which I fortunately bought.
     
  16. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I agree that the Warner box will be technically better, but I was happy to order both considering they contain completely different films.
     

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