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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Pursued (1947)

"It's all coming back strong and clear. There's an answer here."
- Jeb Rand (Robert Mitchum)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 04, 2003

Stars: Teresa Wright, Robert Mitchum, Judith Anderson, Dean Jagger
Other Stars: Alan Hale, Harry Carey Jr., John Rodney
Director: Raoul Walsh

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, cheap pop psychology)
Run Time: 01h:41m:19s
Release Date: January 21, 2003
UPC: 017153135992
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-C-C+ D-

DVD Review

One of the most irritating things about many serious dramas of the 1940s is the infusion of Freud and Jung into the filmmaking process. Pursued is an otherwise acceptable family drama set in the Old West that essentially becomes laughable with its overemphasis on repressed memories and impromptu dream therapy. That the director is the great Raoul Walsh is not enough to save the proceedings; even Hitchcock fell victim to this tendency more than once.

Jeb Rand (Robert Mitchum) has been raised by Ma Callum (Judith Anderson) as part of her family, though he has been plagued by nightmares of boots with jingling spurs and flashes of light. Jeb is in love with Thor Callum (Teresa Wright), his stepsister, but Jeb must join the military when war comes (it's not clear which war this is, for although the keepcase refers to the Civil War, the enemy is referred to as the Spanish, who as I best recall, were not one of the sides in, at least, the American Civil War). This momentous decision is made by a coin flip, as is the decision on Jeb's return to leave the ranch to stepbrother Adam (John Rodney). That's not good enough for Adam, fueled by the hatred from the one-armed Grant Callum (Dean Jagger), who wants him out of the picture permanently. The mystery of Jeb's repressed psyche comes to the fore in the violent finale, though there's nothing much particularly surprising about it.

Mitchum looks younger than I had ever imagined possible, rather like a young Elvis (and in fact talks like him, too). Anderson is good and Jagger has a lot of fun with his spiteful one-armed-man role. Teresa Wright, who had previously done excellent work for Orson Welles, grossly overacts here and is downright terrible. Alan Hale makes a token appearance as a sympathetic gambling man who takes Jeb in as a partner for motives that are never adequately explained.

The photography takes good advantage of what appears to be Monument Valley settings, with plenty of scenery on view. There are also some good segments of suspense, particularly when Grant turns Thor (who ever named their daughter Thor?) against Jeb and she begins her own plotting. But in general, motivations are thin here and the final result is a rather implausible little drama not helped by the psyche examining, set to a jazz score (Max Steiner's score is otherwise Western-appropriate, making for a jarring disparity in mood). Steiner does inject some interesting moments, such as converting Londonderry Air into a minor key dirge, and giving the same treatment to Mendelssohn's bridal march.

The print here is from a restoration by UCLA. Mostly it appears to be in fine condition, though there is one rough spot that looks as if it were patched in from a rather dodgy 16mm print. The running time is three and a half minutes shorter than advertised on the keepcase.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame presentation is retained here. Which there is a good range of greys and decent black levels, the whole thing has a rather greenish cast to it. There is moderate grain throughout. The picture is sometimes clear and detailed with good texture, and at other times it is rather soft and smeary. Shimmer is nearly a constant problem throughout, and pixelation is visible frequently. This might have been a good candidate to put on an RSDL disc to allow for a higher bit rate.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The keepcase fibs again in the audio area. Although a Dolby Surround track is claimed, it's really only 2.0 mono. Nothing whatsoever comes from the surrounds or the mains, if your Pro Logic decoding is activated. There is prominent hiss and crackle, but the dialogue is clear and strong. The music tends to be a bit on the shrill side, lacking in depth and presence, though that's not entirely unexpected in a film of this vintage.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Other than adequate chaptering, there are no extras whatsoever.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

An okay psychodrama that teeters way too far into the psyche, with the drama undercut by some iffy performances. But Mitchum and Dean Jagger are fun to watch in just about anything, so there's certainly entertainment value here. No extras, and a less-than-happy transfer make this a rental at best, though. Do not believe the keepcase, no matter what it tells you.


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