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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > TV > Bonanza: Adventures With The Cartwrights/Heroes Of The Old West (Mill Creek DVD Sets)/Tracker (2011/Lionsgate DVD)

Bonanza: Adventures With The Cartwrights/Heroes Of The Old West (Mill Creek DVD Sets)/Tracker (2011/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C/C/C+     Sound: C/C/C+     Extras: C-/D/D     Main Programs: C+



Now to look at some Western material that diehard fans will want to know about.



Bonanza: Adventures With The Cartwrights is another of the many low-budget DVD lines of the show that have flooded the market since the VHS days, but CBS DVD has been issuing “Official” DVD sets of the series with archive prints and extras that are better than this.  While this has a very weak documentary, the CBS set has some good extras and more of them.  For what I have to say on the show, go to this link:





This set has 32 episodes over 4 DVDs, but it is just not as good.  Now CBS just need sot start issuing Blu-rays of the show as their prints are that good.


Mill Creek fares a little better with their genre compilation set simply titled Heroes Of The Old West which has more worn Bonanza prints as well an episode of Outlaws and 13 episodes of the Clayton Moore The Lone Ranger.  The ten films (not on Blu-ray yet for a while) include seven John Wayne films (Blue Steele, McClintock!, Sagebrush Trail, Texas Terror, Paradise Canton, Lucky Texan and Randy Rides Again), plus Santa Fe Trail (with Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan & Olivia De Havilland), Wild Fire (with Bob Steele & Sterling Holloway) and Riders Of The Whistling Skull with Ray “Crash” Corrigan.  That’s not bad, bur like the Bonanza set, the 1.33 X 1 video and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio is on the weak side, so only expect so much.  This set has no extras.


That leaves us with Ian Sharp’s Tracker (2011), a British/New Zealand co-production form the journeyman director putting character actor Ray Winstone up against Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors, the Star Wars prequels) as characters in a battle of wills, with the history of racism and segregation in New Zealand when a Maori man (Morrison) is accused of a murder he may not be guilty of.  What should have been a raw, gritty film in the Sam Peckinpah/Robert Aldrich tradition wants to have it both ways.  It wants to be both ways by being seemingly gritty, yet also being a drama with some prestige, which are contradictory things.  Mr. Sharp should have just let loose and made this a film real battle between the men.  The actors are certainly up to it, but by being lite, maybe politically correct on some level and more worried about awards than coming across as possible exploitation, the film ultimately does not ring as true as it should have making it only a little above a typical TV movie.  I still liked the performances and leads, both whom are still too underrated for our (movie fans) own good, make the one difference that make this worth a look.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is a little soft throughout, which in this case is a combination of the format and styling of the film (so it looks like it is in the past), but it has some fine location work and the use of the scope frame by Director of Photography Harvey Harrison, B.S.C., is more good than poor.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix is not badly recorded, but this is a dialogue-based film and the surrounds are only so good, which made me wonder if a lossless mix might bring out more from the soundmaster.  Extras include Cast/Crew Interviews and a Trailer Gallery.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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