'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,' 'Victor/Victoria' earn Blu-ray upgrades
Posted July 5
A new Blu-ray upgrade makes the Monument Valley locations in John Ford’s “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” even more vibrant. Also on Blu-ray for the first time are “Victor/Victoria,” “Suture” and “Rollercoaster.” (The Warner Archive titles here are manufacture-on-demand DVD-R discs, available at warnerarchive.com)
“She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (Warner Archive, 1949, home movies of Mexico, trailer). John Wayne has one of his best roles in this John Ford classic, playing a 60-year-old cavalry captain (he was 41 at the time) on the verge of retirement when he’s called upon to quell an Indian uprising after Custer’s defeat at Little Big Horn.
The most expensive Western of its era, this one benefits from Wayne’s commanding central performance, as well as shooting on location rather than in a studio. There’s also great support from Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Mildred Natwick and George O’Brien.
This was Ford’s second in his cavalry trilogy (after “Fort Apache” and before “Rio Grande”), and the only one in color. The vivid Monument Valley landscapes are beautifully captured by Technicolor cameras — especially during a memorable storm sequence that was captured on the fly during an actual thunderstorm by cinematographer Winton C. Hoch, who won an Oscar.
“Victor/Victoria” (Warner Archive, 1982, PG, audio commentary, trailer). Blake Edwards, a master of visual comedy, wrote and directed this riotous musical gender-bender farce, a remake of a 1933 German film.
Edwards’ wife, Julie Andrews, stars as a penniless soprano in 1934 Paris who is talked into pretending to be a man whose stage persona is to impersonate a woman. To Andrews’ surprise, he/she becomes the toast of Paree. Everyone shines in this one, including Robert Preston, James Garner, Lesley Ann Warren and Alex Karras.
“Suture” (Arrow, 1993, not rated but in PG-13 territory, b/w, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers, photo gallery). After two half-brothers (Michael Harris, Dennis Haysbert) meet for the first time at their father’s funeral, wealthy Harris lures working-class Haysbert to his home. He then arranges to kill Haysbert with a car bomb, so he can fake his own death and steal Haysbert’s identity. But Haysbert unexpectedly survives, albeit with injuries and memory loss.
One of the quirkier aspects here is that everyone comments on how much the brothers look alike (they don’t) and no one seems to notice that one is white and the other is black. Cleverly plotted and artfully directed (by Scott McGehee and David Siegel), this clinical, low-key, black-and-white thriller has a lot on its mind. A 1994 Sundance Film Festival favorite and a one-of-a-kind movie experience.
“Rollercoaster” (Shout!, 1977, PG, featurette, trailer). A late entry in the 1970s disaster-flick cycle, this so-so thriller follows a safety inspector (George Segal) who is called in to help with the investigation of a bombing that derailed a wooden rollercoaster, killing several patrons. He works with an FBI agent (Richard Widmark) to track down the bomber (Timothy Bottoms), who is demanding a million-dollar ransom or he’ll do it again. Co-stars include Henry Fonda, Harry Guardino, Susan Strasberg and, in her film debut, 14-year-old future Oscar-winner Helen Hunt.
“Charlie Chan: 3-Film Collection” (Warner Archive, 1945-49, two discs, three movies). This set is comprised of three Chan films that have never been on DVD and which fans have been lobbying for. All three are from poverty-row studio Monogram during the series’ final cycle: “The Red Dragon” has Sidney Toler as Chan investigating a murder in Mexico, while Roland Winters takes over the role in both “The Feathered Serpent,” again in Mexico during a hunt for Aztec gold, and “The Sky Dragon,” where murder takes place on an airline flight. Keye Luke as Lee Chan, Charlie’s No. 1 Son, co-stars in the latter two titles, which were the last films in the series.
“Return of the Killer Tomatoes” (Arrow, 1988, PG, audio commentary, featurette, photo gallery, trailer, TV spot). The third film of young George Clooney — yes, that George Clooney — gives him second billing (after someone named Anthony Starke) in this first of three sequels that followed the no-budget, purposely campy horror-comedy about, um, killer tomatoes. This time around, John Astin is a scientist trying to harness the evil fruit in his plot to take over the world. Can Clooney and his mullet save the day?
“Tarzan the Ape Man” (Warner Archive, 1959, trailer). This one is Tarzan on the cheap, a poorly constructed remake of the 1932 film, which has the nerve to dub Johnny Weissmuller’s famous yell over Denny Miller’s voice. Mostly in Technicolor, this one also cribs black-and-white footage from MGM’s first two 1930s Tarzan flicks, tinting the footage, as well as reusing some of the 1950 color version of “King Solomon’s Mines.” It's mind-bogglingly amateurish for a major-studio production.
“O’Shaughnessy’s Boy” (Warner Archive, 1935, b/w, trailer).
“Tough Guy” (Warner Archive, 1936, b/w). Before transitioning into a successful adult career as an actor/producer/director, Jackie Cooper was a famous child star in the 1930s, and audiences especially loved to see him opposite blustery Wallace Beery, with whom he co-starred in the weepy classic “The Champ” and the first sound adaptation of “Treasure Island.”
The last film to team them was “O’Shaughnessy’s Boy,” with Beery as a circus animal trainer who has lost an arm, trying to win back his son after a lengthy separation. “Tough Guy” pairs Cooper with movie-star pooch Rin Tin Tin, as they outwit bad guys. (A third Cooper film, 1935’s “Dinky,” is also new at warnerarchive.com)
“Under the Sun of Satan” (Cohen, 1987, not rated but in PG-13 territory, in French with English subtitles, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailers). Maurice Pialat directed and plays a supporting role in this ponderous, talk-heavy (and therefore subtitle-heavy) study of a tortured country priest (Gerard Depardieu), although the bulk of the film’s screen time is devoted to a pregnant teenage girl (Sandrine Bonnaire) whom the priest tries to save after she kills one of her two lovers.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.