• Warlock (Twilight Time) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Twilight Time
    Released on: May 21st, 2019.
    Director: Edward Dmytryk
    Cast: Anthony Quinn, Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, DeForest Kelley, Frank Gorshin, L.Q. Jones, Joe Turkel, Dorothy Malone, Delores Michaels
    Year: 1959
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    Warlock – Movie Review:

    Set in the titular town of Warlock, Utah, we learn how a gang of rough and tumble cowboys in the employ of rancher Abe McQuown (Tom Drake) have led to a pretty high turnover in the sheriff’s office. To bring things down a few notches, the powers that be enlist the aid of two gunmen in the form of Clay Blaisdell (Henry Fonda) and Tom Morgan (Anthony Quinn). They specialize in cleaning up towns like Warlock, and that’s exactly what they aim to do - that is, after the commandeer the local watering hole. While all of this is going on, a cowboy named Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark) grows disillusioned with the status quo and after witnessing one last act of wanton violence, decides to get himself deputized in hopes of cleaning up Warlock once and for all.

    This, of course, puts him at odds with Blaisdell and Morgan. He’s not a fan of their ways and doesn’t approve of their tactics. As tensions rise among the players, things become increasingly dangerous for all parties. Complicating matters further, Blaisdell falls for Jessie (Dolores Michaels) – something that doesn’t sit well at all with his partner Morgan (leading many to see a whole lot of homoerotic subtext in the story). Meanwhile, Lily Dollar (Dorothy Malone), who has ties to the two hired guns, moves to town and soon catches Gannon’s eye in a big way. The romantic subplots don’t add much to the story itself, but they are at least well acted.

    Directed by Edward Dmytryk, who was at one time subjected to the Hollywood blacklist, and based on the novel of the same name by Oakley Hall, Warlock is a very well-made film. It’s smart, it’s quick in its pacing and it is also very nicely shot. The cinematography from Joseph MacDonald does a great job not just of capturing the locations but also in capturing the facial expressions of the central characters which goes a long way towards enhancing the drama and tension in the story. The score is also strong, highlighting the action quite nicely. Full points to Leigh Harlin for that.

    Performances are also excellent across the board. Fonda and Quinn are fantastic together, they make a great team. Fonda in particular seems a natural here, dealing justice out at the end of his gold-plated revolvers, is character a bit of a rock star in the eyes of a certain segment of the townsfolk. Each man shows plenty of charisma here, inhabiting their respective characters very nicely indeed. Richard Widmark is just as good as the other two, delivering great work himself, while supporting performances from DeForest Kelley, Frank Gorshin, L.Q. Jones, Joe Turkel, Dorothy Malone and Delores Michaels is also very noteworthy.

    The movie loses a bit of steam towards the end, the finale not quite coming together the way that you hope it will, but this is still a very different western for its time. Warlock is an ambitious and intelligent picture that asks questions about right and wrong highlighted by strong production values and a great cast.

    Warlock – Blu-ray Review:

    Warlock receives its Blu-ray debut from Twilight Time in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35.1. Detail is good and there’s solid depth throughout but unfortunately the colors look flat and faded. Still, that issue aside, this is more than watchable – the image retains filmic texture throughout and shows no evidence of noise or edge enhancement.

    Twilight Time provides English language options in DTS-HD 2.0 Mono and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio formats. Both tracks sound good, with the 5.1 mix obviously able to spread out effects and musical cues in ways that the mono track doesn’t. Either way, no problems here – both are clean and nicely balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras are on the light side, limited to an isolated score option in DTS-HD 2.0 format, a one-minute clip from a Fox MovieTone newsreel and the film’s theatrical trailer. The interactive Twilight Time catalogue is also found on the disc alongside menus and chapter selection, and inside the case alongside the disc we get a color insert booklet of liner notes from essayist Julie Kirgo complimented by some nice archival images.

    Warlock – The Final Word:

    Warlock is a very interesting film, a picture that is an interesting transitional piece between the more traditional American westerns that came before it and the more experimental ones that would follow in the sixties and seventies. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray suffers from some desaturated coloring but is otherwise a nice presentation of a solid movie, even if it is light on extras.

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