20th Century Fox presents
The Bravados (1958)
Jim Douglas: You're wasting a lot of good lumber. A tree would've done just as well.
Sheriff Sanchez: They were sentenced to be hanged, not lynched.- Gregory Peck, Herbert Rudley
Stars: Gregory Peck
Other Stars: Joan Collins, Stephen Boyd, Albert Salmi, Henry Silva, Kathleen Gallant, Barry Coe, George Voskovec, Herbert Rudley, Lee Van Cleef, Andrew Duggan, Ken Scott, Gene Evans, Joe DeRita, Robert Adler
Director: Henry King
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, scene of off-screen rape)
Run Time: 01h:37m:42s
Release Date: 2005-05-24
DVD ReviewThe Bravados is a smart, well-paced western. Jim Douglas (Gregory Peck) arrives in a small town to witness the hanging of four convicted robbers. As the town's sheriff (Herbert Rudley) awaits the designated authority for the hangings, Douglas refuses to relinquish any information about his desire to see these men dead. Some horrible event from the past haunts him and this execution is supposed to make it all right.
However, when the town attends church on the eve of the hangings, the foursome escape and kidnap a young townswoman, Emma (Kathleen Gallant). Under the lead of Zachary (Stephen Boyd), the criminals escape into the wilderness before the town can stop them. Desperate to save the young woman and bring these men to justice, the town forms a posse, including Douglas' old acquaintance Josefa (Joan Collins). However, the skilled hunter Douglas quickly assumes command of the posse and sends Josefa home. While the rest of the town is seeking primarily to save Emma, Douglas is out to avenge the rape and murder of his wife. He believes these four men are responsible and will stop at nothing until all of them are dead.
In many ways, Henry King's handling of Philip Yordan's script, from a novel by Frank O'Rourke, mirrors the masterful Anthony Mann western, The Naked Spur. Douglas' bloodlust becomes all-consuming and, considering that the film was made in 1958, quite graphic. However, the plot contains a twist that changes the dynamics of the whole story, respectfully handled, and adds a level of redemption to an unrelenting movie. I am amazed at how fast the running time moves along, with the first 40 minutes feeling more like 15. Utilizing the CinemaScope cameras to capture the canvases of the West, King's direction makes this a thrilling adventure with a heart.
The thrills come from Douglas' chase, while the heart comes from his character. Many movies would choose to focus solely on the excitement, but The Bravados weaves both gunfights and conversation with graceful ease. It is only due to the attention paid to Douglas' tormented past and uncertain future, as evident by his loss of faith, that we come to care about his role in the manhunt. Gregory Peck's performance of Douglas is perfect, with a cold disposition on the surface that suggests an inner conflict. Much of Peck's work is accomplished through physical expressions and, although he's no John Wayne, he wears his spurs well. Unfortunately, some of the supporting cast does not do as well.
Many of the character parts are filled with largely unrecognizable faces, which makes this western a cut below the great ones of Howard Hawks and John Ford. Perhaps with an ensemble of western veterans, the smaller parts would feel more authentic. Lee Van Cleef's performance as Parrel, one of the four robbers, is far too hammy to be menacing. Only Stephen Boyd's role comes across as a genuine threat, especially since his character delights in the menace posed to Emma.
However, the overall success of this movie triumphs over its shortcomings. It isn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it's one of the better westerns that you'll find.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - P&S||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The double-sided disc features both a 1.33:1 pan-and-scan transfer and a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer preserving the film's original aspect ratio. Obviously, the widescreen version is preferable and, for the most part, a strong piece of work. Some print defects and occasional mosquito noise cause are noticeable, but detail is sharp and contrast is good. Colors are somewhat bland, but this appears to be due to the original cinematography.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Presented in Dolby Digital 4.0, the sound mix comes across nicely. The rear channels are reserved for the musical score and some minor ambient noise, but balance out nicely with the dialogue and sound effects that occupy the front sound stage. I didn't notice much separation or any directionality, so it's not a lively mix. There also are French and Spanish mono tracks available.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Special features on this set are pretty scarce. The original theatrical trailer is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, but gives away many plot details and, thus should be avoided. There are two Fox Movietone News reels, Quick Draw Lesson by Hugh O'Brian (00m:33s) and Bravados Hit NY as Gregory Peck Stars in New Hit (00m:52s). The titles of these two reels pretty much sum up their content, though the latter has a shot of a young Robert Evans arriving for the film's premiere.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsThough not a masterpiece, The Bravados is a good, solid piece of work. The anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 4.0 transfers are a nice presentation of the movie, but the lack of extras makes this title more deserving of a rental than a purchase.
Nate Meyers 2005-09-02