• Untamed (Twilight Time) Blu-Ray Review

    Released By: Twilight Time
    Released On: January 22, 2019.
    Director: Henry King
    Cast: Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Richard Egan, Rita Moreno, John Justin, Hope Emerson
    Year: 1955
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    Untamed - Movie Review:

    Paul van Riebeck (Tyrone Power) is the commander of a Boer army, who has travelled aways across the water to Ireland to buy horses for the cause; the cause, in this case, being the establishment of a Dutch Free State in South Africa. Lack of horses is just one of the obstacles facing the Boers, with a much bigger threat being the savage Zulus who take every opportunity to slaughter the White Man in droves. Still, there's a lot to be said about being a Boer commander, like the fact that the title gets all of the ladies, and van Riebeck definitely catches the eye of Katie O'Neill (Susan Hayward), the daughter of the horse purveyor. Katie isn't only enamoured by Paul's handsome, Tyron Power-like looks, she's also dazzled by his stories of life overseas; stories that include the dashing commander crapping all over Ireland as a waste of land where people are destined to live in poverty and famine. It's not long before Paul is called back to duty, leaving Katie and his professions of affection behind.

    But what do you know, van Riebeck appears to have had some kind of intuition regarding the Emerald Isle; shortly thereafter, Katie finds herself in the grip of a nasty famine. She and her new husband and child pack up and head for Cape Town, a rather odd choice for a big move, but are able to join a wagon convoy heading for free land once they get off of the boat. As bad luck would have it, however, their wagon train is set upon by crazy, chanting Zulus, who attack in wave after wave of savagery, throwing spears and dancing. Katie's husband is killed, and it seems like a similar fate is in the cards for the rest of the travellers...but suddenly, help arrives in the form of a Boer cavalry, led by none other than Paul van Riebeck!

    Crisis averted, the group get themselves established in their new home, with Katie pining not for her spear-impaled late husband, but rather, for the love of van Riebeck, and she forces Paul's hand when she demands a confession of his eternal love for her. It would make sense, at this point, for the young couple to live happily ever after with stories of destiny and odds overcome to tell their grandchildren, but no; South Africa is a lady who demands constant service, and Paul is soon called away to war again. But that's not the only complication facing the two, as Kurt (Richard Egan), once a friend of van Riebeck's, allows his affections for Katie to get the upper hand, turning him from hired hand into serious threat.

    Based on the novel by South African Writer, Helga Moray, and billed as a South African Gone With The Wind, Untamed seems on the surface to be a recipe for cinematic success; international travel, danger, adventure, intrigue, romance, and politics; but overall, it plays out in a bland, unsatisfying way. Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward (along with supporting actors like Agnes Moorehead and Richard Egan) do what they can with the material, but can't seem to surpass the snooze-inducing mixture of half-assed politics and complicated romance. The 111-minute runtime crawls by, and while there sure are a lot of things to look at, many of those things work to the detriment of the film.

    Battle scenes range from decent to comical; actually, a whole lot of aspects of the film are unintentionally comical. What should be a heartbreaking moment of a family lost as a wagon careens over a cliff is instead damn funny, and some of the more serious moments elicit the same mirth. A helping heap of cliche and some of the most visually unsettling projection effects make Untamed a borderline unpleasant film to watch, with emphasis on those projection effects. Rather than film scenes in town, or the set of a town, the film makers have strangely opted to film the lead actors with footage of a bustling town projected behind them, creating an odd effect that is not enjoyable. Sadly, these effects, possibly used to keep the budget lower, yank the viewer from any immersion they might have been experiencing. Politics and romance do have the potential to be engaging, but within the confines of Untamed, they are anything but.

    Untamed - Blu-Ray Review:

    Twilight Time brings Untamed to blu-ray with an AVC-encoded 2.35:1 transfer that looks pretty great. Note that this is another CinemaScope presentation, which may play havoc with your eyesight, as some scenes get that warpy stretch that comes with the territory of those big lenses. That aside, the presentation is solid, with minimal dirt and debris, good colour representation, and adequate blacks.

    A DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 track are available in English; both are perfectly serviceable, with the 5.1 opening the soundstage up a bit more for atmosphere. The usual Twilight Time Isolated Music track is also available if that's your thing. English subtitles are also available.

    A Trailer, the Twilight Time Interactive Catalogue, and liner notes by Twilight Times Julie Kirgo (which are always better than my reviews) can also be found.

    Untamed - The Final Word:

    File it under, "Not My Thing", Untamed was not a film I enjoyed, due to an uninspiring story and distracting visual effects. However, fans of the film will likely enjoy this presentation from Twilight time.

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