• Bravados, The (Twilight Time) Blu-Ray Review

    Released By: Twilight Time
    Released On: September 18, 2018.
    Director: Henry King
    Cast: Gregory Peck, Joan Collins, Stephen Boyd, Albert Salmi, Henry Silva, Andrew Duggan, Lee Van Cleef
    Year: 1958

    The Bravados - Movie Review:

    When Jim Douglass (Gregory Peck) comes riding up to the town of borderish town of Rio Arriba, not much is known about his purpose (unless you read the back of the box), but one thing is for sure; he's a man on one hell of a mission. He's not on the mission that the townspeople originally think he's on, however, acting as hangman to four jailed badasses who have committed hang-worthy crimes; but Douglass most definitely has business with them, nonetheless. Stopping in for a drink, Douglass re-makes the acquaintance of a lady from his past, Josefa Valerde (Joan Collins), and it's through a conversation over a cerveza that his backstory becomes a little clearer.

    It must have been a dark day when Douglass returned home to his ranch to find his wife raped and butchered, leaving him to raise his young daughter, and a nearby neighbour pointed the finger at four men (including Lee Van Cleef and Henry Silva!) the same four men that now reside in the Rio Arriba jail. Despite the men's protestations of their innocence, Douglass is convinced of their guilty and determined to see them hang, a fate that seems to be written in stone with the impenetrable foundation of the local prison, and the arrival of the hangman.

    He has reservations about setting foot in church, but accompanies Josefa to the evening service with the rest of the townsfolk, anyhow, and that's when the Sheriff finds out that the newly-arrived hangman is actually an accomplice of the condemned men. The Sheriff gets a blade in the back for his commitment to duty, a local shopkeeper's daughter makes for an adequate hostage, and the four criminals head for the nearby border. The townspeople are convinced that giving immediate chase in the dark is the best course of action; but Douglass has a plan that involves calculated, meticulous stalking that will see those who did him wrong tracked down and killed, one by one.

    Based on the novel by Frank O'Rourke, The Bravados features the tried and true combination of Director Henry King and Gregory Peck, and, while it lacks the grandeur of Leone's epics, packs a number of emotional wallops in the form of dark and heavy (especially for the time) subject matter. Rape and murder, shootings, followed by fallings from cliffings, followed by tramplings by hooflings, and of course, a nasty, nasty ending that throws the actions of the protagonist into serious questioning light; The Bravados is not a pleasant film about love on the open range. Peck's Douglass is a tormented man driven by revenge and lack of faith, his desperation to see justice carried out driving him to the same depths as the heathens he pursues. Despite being surrounded by exceptional talent, this is Peck's show, entirely, allowing him to showcase torment miles away from his Atticus Finch, and more in line with his Sam Bowden.

    That's not to cast the supporting actors in an incompetent light, as Collins, Van Cleef, and especially Henry Silva step up to the plate admirably. King's familiarity with the genre shines through as well, capturing not only the personal angle of the story, but also the sweeping landscapes and intricacies of small-town relationships; and having ace Cinematographer Leon Shamroy along for the ride doesn't hurt. A beautifully executed score rounds things out, making The Bravados a damn-near perfect film.

    The Bravados - Blu-Ray Review:

    The Bravados comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray with a 2:35:1 AVC-encoded transfer that looks fantastic, especially considering the age. The western scenery comes alive in browns and greens, while skin tones pop from the screen and black levels remain deep. Grain is abundant, damage is non-existent, and contrast is dialed in nicely. The picture does suffer from "CinemaScope Mumps", a byproduct of the Bausch and Lomb CinemaScope lenses of the era, which gives a subtle horizontal stretch effect to certain subjects at certain times that certain viewers may be sensitive to, but the instances are few and far between.

    A number of audio options are presented, including a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English track, a DTS-HD MA 4.0 track (the film was originally presented in four-track stereo), a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, and an isolated score track. Removing the latter from the equation, viewers will find any of these options to be effective; I flipped between them randomly during the viewing, and all of the options did a wonderful job, without hiss or distortion. The 5.1 does seem to open things up a bit, atmospherically, while the 2.0 is front-and-centre punchy as hell.

    English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are also available.

    Extras from the previous DVD have been ported over for this release, mostly made up of Fox Movietone news reels. first up is Quick Draw Lesson By Hugh O'Brian (:34) in which the actor shows a pretty little lady how to clear leather in an urgent manner.

    Next up is Bravados Hit NY (:53) a short clip of the film premiering on Broadway, with many celebrities in attendance.

    Hollywood Salutes The Bravados (8:36) is a silent clip of celebrities arriving for a showing at the 20th Century Fox Theater in Hollywood.

    A Theatrical Trailer, Twilight Time Interactive Catalogue, and insightful essay booklet by Twilight Time's Julie Kirgo round out the extra features.

    The Bravados - The Final Word:

    A darkly impressive Western gets a bang-up release from Twilight Time. Definitely worth checking out.

    Click on the images below for full sized Bravados Blu-ray screen caps!