The Black Hills & The Badlands: Gateway To The
West/The Everglades: A Subtropical Paradise (Mill Creek Blu-rays)/Roots Of Heaven (1958/Twilight Time
Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Savage Wild
(1970/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD)
Picture: B-/B-/B/C+ Sound: C+/C+/B-/C+ Extras: D (Roots: B-) Main Programs:
PLEASE NOTE: Savage Wild is an MGM Limited Edition DVD and is available
exclusively from Amazon through the right-hand sidebar of this site.
and hunting used to go hand in hand up to the early decades of TV, but they
eventually started to split off since environmental movements in the 1970s
changed attitudes towards killing animals.
The following recent releases show how.
The Black Hills & The
Badlands: Gateway To The West and The Everglades
are the latest in a cycle of special interest releases to show off how great
nature looks. In this case, it is Mill
Creek issuing them among their Blu-ray slate as part of their National Parks
Exploration Series. Though this kind of
thing works best in IMAX productions, these “virtual tours” are not bad and
though the HD shooting is mixed, there are some nice shots just the same. If you are interested, the 70 – 80 minutes
programs are not bad, but they have no extras.
have John Huston’s Roots Of Heaven,
a 1958) Fox release in CinemaScope issued by Twilight Time in a Limited Edition
Blu-ray of only 3,000 copies. Based on
the true story of one of the earliest pro-environmentalists (Trevor Howard)
taking on the killing of elephants (and other mad hunting) in a
French-controlled section of Africa. He tries to get a petition signed, but when
he is laughed at, he resorts to inflammatory and defensive tactics, including
shooting some of the hunter in the rear end!
not bad and the dramatic situations work, yet there is also some humor and even
a romance subplot, but Huston (revisiting territory he covered in African Queen and continuing his
obsession with this material and this world, as Clint Eastwood explored in his
own film White Hunter, Black Heart),
it is a film that deserves to be revisited and has some memorable scenes. This is in part thanks to a supporting cast
that includes Errol Flynn, Herbert Lom, Juliette Greco, Eddie Albert and Orson
Welles, so this stays interesting throughout up to the interesting conclusion.
include an isolated music track of Malcolm (Suddenly, Last Summer, Bridge
On The River Kwai) Arnold’s
score in DTS-HD (Master Audio) MA lossless 2.0 Stereo and an illustrated
booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo.
we have another limited edition, Gordon Eastman’s The Savage Wild (1970) which he made playing himself as a tale of
trying to save wolves in Northern Canada/The Yukon where hunting is a big
business. This mixes bad acting, awkward
action sequences and great scenery for a release that American International
originally issued. If you can get
through the lame parts, the time capsule side is worth your time along with his
appeal to save wolves from extinction and between pollution and global warming,
I wondered how much has changed where they made this.
is being shot in 35mm while Eastman goes around shooting his own footage in
16mm on a nice Arriflex and he also has a nice older snowmobile. I have not seen this one in eons and could
have easily mistaken scenes with any episode of Wild Kingdom
with Marlin Perkins. The makers make
nice use of the big screen, even if we have seen some of this before. There are no extras.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Mill Creek Blu-rays
again look good more often than not, but some shots show the older HD source
being used. Color is not bad, but expect
some detail issues.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Roots was issued in DeLuxe color and though there is some print
damage and flaws here and there (including in the color), this joins the slowly
growing list of classic CinemaScope films on Blu-ray. One problem is that the color turns on and
off between major scene changes, but that is normal for this film. Some rear projection work is also evident,
but Director of Photography Oswald Morris, B.S.C. (Huston’s Moby Dick, Guns of Navarone, Kubrick’s Lolita,
The Man With The Golden Gun) knew
even then how to use the scope frame to full advantage along with color in this
case and this fine Blu-ray transfers shows this effortlessly.
enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Savage
was shot in Techniscope, which is a cheaper, smaller version of scope and
original 35mm prints were in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor. You cannot always see that here, but we do
get more than a few good color shots that would suggest that and grain is on
the minimal side, which is nice. Eastman
is one of five cameramen behind the actual shoot of the film and this is the
second of three theatrical films he was able to get made.
Creek Blu-rays only offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but you buy these
discs for their image quality. Still, a
lossless format might have helped. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Roots is pretty good for a film its age and was a film originally
designed for 4-track magnetic sound and that included some traveling dialogue
and sound effects. This is a nice
upgrade and the music is often clearer on the isolated music track because it
is not mixed into the other sounds, though that track sometimes includes sound
effects, though we guess the 4-track master is missing. Finally, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Savage sounds good for its age, though
you can hear location noise and maybe even camera motors whirling. All in all, these are interesting releases
worth a look.
order Roots while supplies last
exclusively at this link: