The Hanging Tree is an interesting, and under-appreciated film, that I enjoy simply as a Gary Cooper picture, and as the film which introduced me to the term “sluice robber.”
It’s also the first time a cinema audience got to take gander at a gent named George Scott.
Technically, it’s been a problematic film. Past home videos releases were less than stellar, and the wonderful folks at Warner Archive understood that and went for gold.
Underlying lit had fallen prey to the Abend decision, and had to be re-purchased by the studio. Because of underlying, the film was out of distribution for probably twenty years, and when it returned, it did so with mediocre elements.
Since prints were Technicolor, there was no IP…
So Warner Archive pulled the original camera negative into service, and it looks it. After a 4k scan, new color and clean-up, The Hanging Tree once again looks (and sounds) superb.
The fact that they were able to hide fade is a testament to the colorist.
The Hanging Tree is important for many reasons, but among the greatest is the outdoor cinematography courtesy of Ted McCord (The Sound of Music, The Treasure of The Sierra Madre, East of Eden).
Music is by that Steiner guy, who takes the main title theme, and blends it beautifully into the overall score, as he did with Casablanca.
Is there a downside.
I’m afraid there is.
The Main Title is a bit dupey. Not terrible, and may have always been that way, but once out of it, and into production photography, it’s nirvana the rest of the way.
As an aside, director Delmer Daves became ill during the shoot and direction was taken over by…
Wait for it…
Color, densities, grain structure and black levels are gorgeous.
Support investments in restoration. Please purchase a dozen or so copies, and distribute to friends.
Image – 5
Audio – 5
4k Up-rez – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely!