The Big Country Blu-Ray Review (Kino)

Technical flaws from a previous Blu-ray release have been completely fixed here, making this edition a major upgrade. 3 Stars

Josh Steinberg submitted a new blog post

The Big Country Blu-Ray Review (Kino)
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24 Comments

  1. I watched this last weekend and was very pleased with the video transfer and especially happy with how strong the mono track sounded on my system. The movie is terrific entertainment and this release finally does it justice.

  2. Thanks for the review as I thought the PQ on this release was excellent. The only quibble I have is some of the comments made by Frayling during his commentary. As much as I love this musical score, IMO, there is no way it's a more popular western soundtrack than "The Magnificent Seven". I grew up hearing bits of "The Magnificent Seven" soundtrack several times a day on TV. I also question some of his comments about the Hannassey clan as he didn't realize that those three characters that were beaten up for roughing up Peck's character were Buck's brothers.

  3. Yeah, The Magnificent Seven has one of the most iconic western soundtracks ever — or for any genre, for that matter.

    I bought the new version of The Big Country during the last Kino sale. My wife actually watched the film with me last weekend — it was her first time seeing the film. She's not much of a western fan, but did enjoy this one. As for me, I thought the picture and sound quality was excellent — definitely an improvement over the old release (which I sold).

  4. Peter Apruzzese

    I watched this last weekend and was very pleased with the video transfer and especially happy with how strong the mono track sounded on my system.

    I try not to read other reviews before I watch the thing I'm supposed to review – figure it's better to go in cold. But it was impossible to escape that the video was much improved on this release, and I didn't mind knowing that going in. What took me by surprise was just how incredible that mono track was – I'm really glad to hear that your experience of the track was the same.

    Robert Crawford

    As much as I love this musical score, IMO, there is no way it's a more popular western soundtrack than "The Magnificent Seven".

    Yeah, I don't think I could agree with that either – The Big Country has an incredible score, but I think the Magnificent Seven theme is more well known among the general public. It's become one of those themes where almost everyone knows it, even if they don't know what they know it from.

    Robert Crawford

    I also question some of his comments about the Hannassey clan as he didn't realize that those three characters that were beaten up for roughing up Peck's character were Buck's brothers.

    That's what I had thought too, that they were Buck's brothers! Thanks for the confirmation on that.

  5. It's a great score … but then, so is the score (and theme song) for 'High Noon' !
    I've watched snatches of the Kino 'Big Country' .. and since my new Epson TW8300 projector only arrived last week (is that called the Pro Cinema 4040 in the States?), I look forward to setting a night aside for the whole dang thing….

  6. Robert Crawford

    As much as I love this musical score, IMO, there is no way it's a more popular western soundtrack than "The Magnificent Seven".

    The main theme from TBC was borrowed as the background music for the Beef Council's ad campaign with Robert Mitchum proclaiming, "Beef! It's what's for dinner!" Maybe the reviewer still had that ear worm in his head from decades past.

  7. The Magnificent Seven theme was a Top 40 single for guitarist Al Caiola in 1961 and for many years it was used in TV ads for Marlboro cigarettes, so it is far more recognizable than The Big Country theme.

    You can find the themes to both The Magnificent Seven and The Big Country on a United Artists album released in the early sixties called Great Motion Pictures Themes and was re-released on CD a few years ago. It's a great album for fans of movie music.

  8. Very much enjoyed reading your review of this great film. Thanks Josh!

    Agreed with your thoughtful insights and observations, except perhaps for the following assessment:

    Whatever minor faults can be found in The Big Country are ultimately outweighed by its moral clarity…

    Over the years and many revisits to this old favourite, I have come to question the “moral clarity” of this story. I posted about this in the “A Few Words…” thread of the first Blu-ray release, so won’t burden readers by repeating here.

    However, revisiting that original thread just now, I was tickled to come across your following post looking ahead towards this Kino re-release:

    Josh Steinberg

    I've held off on the previous release because of the picture issues. If the reviews are better for this version, I may consider it for a blind buy.


    Lovely irony.

  9. Dan_Shane

    The main theme from TBC was borrowed as the background music for the Beef Council's ad campaign with Robert Mitchum proclaiming, "Beef! It's what's for dinner!" Maybe the reviewer still had that ear worm in his head from decades past.

    The "Beef! It's What's for Dinner" music was the "Hoe-Down" from Aaron Copland's ballet "Rodeo"; not the main title from "The Big Country"

  10. Actually, the Jerome Moross score is one of the all-time great scores, even greater than "The Magnificent Seven", IMO. "…Seven" has a terrific theme, but Moross' score is varied and thematic throughout without relying on one theme.

  11. David_B_K

    The "Beef! It's What's for Dinner" music was the "Hoe-Down" from Aaron Copland's ballet "Rodeo"; not the main title from "The Big Country"

    D'oh!

    My 65-year-old memory strikes again! At least tell me I was right that it was Bob Mitchum's voice?

  12. Virgoan

    Actually, the Jerome Moross score is one of the all-time great scores, even greater than "The Magnificent Seven", IMO. "…Seven" has a terrific theme, but Moross' score is varied and thematic throughout without relying on one theme.

    I'll second that emotion; I can listen to TBC over and over without tiring. I can't say the same about the repetitive use of the theme in TM7 with little variation (as great as it is). I consider Moross' music for TBC the best western film score of all.

    And yet, my favorite score is Alfred Newman's blending of traditional and original music in HOW THE WEST WAS WON. How can I like one western's score better than another that I think is the best ever? I don't know — I just do.

  13. Virgoan

    Actually, the Jerome Moross score is one of the all-time great scores, even greater than "The Magnificent Seven", IMO. "…Seven" has a terrific theme, but Moross' score is varied and thematic throughout without relying on one theme.

    It's maybe greater, but it's not more popular which is what we were discussing.

  14. Dan_Shane

    D'oh!

    My 65-year-old memory strikes again! At least tell me I was right that it was Bob Mitchum's voice?

    Yep, you got that right. Then after Mitchum passed away they had Sam Elliott voice the ads.

  15. Mr. Crawford: We were discussing a subjective opinion you hold. I hold a differing opinion. Sorry if my expression of that is somehow "off topic" when it's about the film that is the subject of the thread. I'd be interested In what source you have for degrees of popularity of the themes.

  16. Thanks for the superb review. Your writing is wonderful. It swayed me to pick up this release during the current Kino sale. I’m looking forward to seeing it. The last time was on TCM some years ago.

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