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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Tin Star (1 Viewer)

Scott Kimball

May 8, 2000

The Tin Star

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1957

Rated: NR

Length: 92 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: Restored English Mono, Dolby Digital 5.1 remix

English subtitles; Closed Captioned

Special Features: none

S.R.P. $16.99

Release Date: May 11, 2004

Henry Fonda is Morg Hickman, an ex-lawman soured on the job and turned freelance bounty hunter - an honest gun-for hire. Arriving in town with a horse and dead man in tow, townspeople don’t trust him. Hickman stops at the Sheriff’s office to collect the bounty on his catch (wanted dead or alive). It is there he meets greenhorn sheriff Ben Owens (Anthony Perkins). Owens has a confidence problem - not at all helped by the lack of support he gets from the mayor and town elders, and this is spotted right away by Hickman.

Owens immediately takes a liking to Hickman and convinces the bounty hunter to teach him the finer points of sheriffing. Hickman reluctantly agrees, but only because he has to stay in town for a few days to collect his reward, anyway.

Morg’s most profound lesson - “A decent man doesn’t want to kill. But if you’re going to shoot, shoot to kill.” Owens “sticks to his guns,” however, and insists on bringing in a couple of outlaws alive, even with a posse-turned-mob on the loose.

The Tin Star is an engrossing character piece set in the old west, with an outstanding performance by iconic western star Fonda, and a terrific supporting performance by Perkins. This film is quite a bit more subdued than your average shoot ‘em up western of the period. It is a remarkable and sharply written western, directed by Anthony Mann. It’s a character-driven piece that showcases the thinking cowboy over the quick-drawing cowboy. This film received an Academy Award nomination for writing.

The Look
The Tin Star is anamorphically enhanced in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The black and white image is high in contrast with deep blacks. Detail in the shadows is slightly less than optimal at times - and this is not helped by the poor day-for-night shooting seen in a couple of scenes. Some of the night scenes were obviously shot on a bright sunny day with a graduated ND filter and underexposed, giving an unfortunate otherworldly appearance to the picture.

Dust and scratches were present to mild degrees throughout, but they weren’t overly distracting - nor were they unexpected for a film of this age.

The image is sharp with an acceptable level of detail. Grain is apparent at varying levels and is representative of the source elements. I didn’t notice any distracting edge enhancement.

I have to imagine that Paramount used the best elements they had available, and the resulting transfer is as good as one should expect - short of a full-fledged digital restoration. The transfer is acceptable in every way, if not exceptional.

The Sound
There is a restored English mono soundtrack, as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix available on this disc. The restored mono track is outstanding. There is hardly a hint of hiss or noise, and the frequency response is remarkable. Dialog is consistently clear, full and intelligible. Sound effects are adequate, and never overpower the dialog. The monaural music sounds nice, as well. There are no noticeable pops or instances of flutter. Very nice.

The 5.1 track is pretty well done, but I thought it seemed out of place in a black and white western. I switched back and forth between tracks several times, and preferred the mono track. The 5.1 track nicely pinned the dialog front and center. Sound effects had a slightly hollow, processed feel to them - especially the background noise in the bar scenes. Music sounded very nice in this 5.1 remix. It’s an okay mix for those who need their 5.1, but I think many will prefer the mono track. It’s nice to have a choice.

Special Features
There are no special features. This is a bare-bones catalog release.

Final Thoughts
The Tin Star is an outstanding film, given apt treatment on this DVD release. Video is slightly downgraded by some dust and scratches on the source print. The restored audio track, however, is outstanding.

This is a great movie at a great price, and is recommended for western genre fans.

Cees Alons

Senior HTF Member
Jul 31, 1997
Real Name
Cees Alons
This is a fine western, and I'm glad it's as good as you describe. One can hardly expect older films like this one to have flawless images all over. I'm sure I will enjoy seeing it once again.

Thanks, Scott!

(For the review - not the film. :laugh: )


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