by Tony Dayoub
Besides running my review of the new indie, Beginners, a film I'm sure will end up on my year-end top 10 list, this issue of Nomad Editions Wide Screen also contains my weekly column, DVDs of the Moment. This week, I have the pleasure of discussing the new Blu-ray release of an epic western that has quickly become one of my all-time favorite movies, William Wyler's The Big Country (1958).
Featuring an all-star cast that includes Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, Carroll Baker, Burl Ives, and Chuck Connors, this shot-in Technirama film is made for high definition, as Jeffrey Wells rather dramatically discusses in his post today at Hollywood Elsewhere. Some may find the fact that it is currently only available online through Wal-Mart, a drawback. But, at just under $10, it is a steal, especially considering that it is a remarkable upgrade from its 2001 DVD release. Though light on extras, there are a few new special features included in the Blu-ray release. More importantly, though, is the fact that the disc's gorgeous transfer is off of the 2007 Academy Restoration.
I've been watching many a classic Blu-ray since I began writing the DVD column, more so because 2011 has turned out to be a watershed year in terms of the number of Blu-ray catalog releases. And I can safely say that along with Paramount's The Ten Commandments (1956) and Warner Archive's remastered The Boy Friend (1971), Fox/MGM's The Big Country is a strong contender for best looking DVD of the year. Sure, the movie rehashes some elements of Wyler's own 1938 "southern," Jezebel (haughty, self-involved heiress irritates her noble fiance enough for him to call their wedding off; climactic pistol duel), but between Franz F. Planer's cinematography, Jerome Moross's Oscar-nominated score, and Heston being Heston (Wyler directed him in Ben-Hur the following year), this movie has a lot to offer tastes both high and low. Why don't you read why I love this movie and its new Blu-ray release?
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