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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > Action > Racism > Comedy > Politics > War > WWII > Broken Lance (1954/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Firemen's Ball (1967/Arrow U.K. Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Kings Go Forth (1958/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-

Broken Lance (1954/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Firemen's Ball (1967/Arrow U.K. Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Kings Go Forth (1958/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/War Pigs (2015/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: B/B/B/B- & C Sound: B- / C on Pigs DVD Extras: B/B/C/D Films: B-/B/C+/C-

PLEASE NOTE: The Firemen's Ball Import Blu-ray will play on all Blu-ray players worldwide and is now only available from our friends at Arrow U.K., while Broken Lance and Kings Go Forth are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, and being limited to 3,000 copies can be ordered while supplies last. All can be ordered from the links below.

The following releases involve war and politics, usually working well, with our foreign entry a true classic...

Edward Dmytryk's Broken Lance (1954) may have some down moments, but with Spencer Tracy leading a great cast that includes Robert Wagner, Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Katy Jurado, Earl Holliman, Hugh O'Brian and E.G. Marshall among others. Tracy runs a family with a farm and racism in the town has others who would like his land look down on them all since Jurado is his wife. This is none of their business, but they also use it as an excuse to justify robbery and more.

It doesn't help that Tracy's head of the family is emotionless and dictatorial, so that leaves them with further vulnerability, but it all comes to a head when a local company tries to affect their livestock and land, so a small war develops. Though not as groundbreaking as the likes of Johnny Guitar, Broken Arrow or High Noon, it is still considered progressive versus what was happening in the genre (including in dozens of series in the new TV medium) and the acting is pretty good. Wagner might be hard to believe as multi-ethnic, but he is not the only part of this film by any means. It has more than its moments in a pretty good 96 minutes running time and Fox has issued it through Twilight Time as a Limited Edition Blu-ray. If you are a fan of the genre or any of its stars, this expanded version is worth going out of your way to get.

Extras an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another fine Julie Kirgo essay, while the Blu-ray adds Original Theatrical Trailers, a new feature length audio commentary track by film scholar Nick Redman & the film's co-star Earl Holliman that covers this film and the industry in great ways more than worth your time and a lossless Isolated Music Score presentation of the score by Leigh Harline we reviewed as a limited edition CD from the FSM label of Film Score Monthly at this link...


Milos Forman's The Firemen's Ball (1967) is one of two very subversive films that put the great filmmaker on the international filmmaking map and so upset his home country Czechoslovakia, the USSR and the East Bloc in general, he would soon leave for the U.S., freedom and an amazing career. Using the title event, Forman and company make a subtle satire of communist (and Stalinist for that matter) control of authority, order and bureaucracy that hits hard when it all adds up, but it does this by showing realistic interaction with 'the people' of the community at what is supposed to be a respectable, happy event celebrating the greatness and 'seamless functioning' of the system.

Forman is such a good observer and portrayer of human behavior that is is even more amazing these are actual firemen and mostly no professional actors are here. I like the film very much and think it has only appreciated in value over the years with truths as relevant as ever. The nice thing about Arrow U.K.'s Region Free Import Blu-ray is that it will play on all Blu-ray players and is a great film getting fine, expanded treatment even beyond what Criterion offered 14 years ago. This is a great must-see film!

Extras include a reversible sleeve featuring two pieces of artwork from the original release, an appreciation by Czech film expert David Sorfa, archival interviews with director Milos Forman, cinematographer Miroslav Ondiek and co-writer Ivan Passer and featurette New Wave Faces as Michael Brooke salutes the non-professional actors who made an indelible impression on 1960s Czech cinema.

As noted in our DVD review, Delmer Daves' Kings Go Forth (1958) ''was a war drama directed by Delmer Davies with Sinatra and Tony Curtis vying for Natalie Wood, a beautiful young lady with a secret in an ugly world beyond the battlefield. This was risk-taking drama at the time and despite some overall problems with the film, is a plus of a project for all involved.'' I still like the way it tries to take risks, the cast and the time spent for character development and exposition, but it never really comes together as well as it might have. They tried their best and it is still worth a look, especially so nicely restored as it is here in this expanded edition.

Extras versus the DVD repeats the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film from 1 to 2, then adds a lossless Isolated Music Score & Sound Effects track with the score by the great Elmer Bernstein, plus we get another illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another smart Julie Kirgo essay.

Ryan Little's War Pigs (2015) has two actors I like, Mickey Rourke and Luke Goss, and another who I would like more if he did better films... Dolph Lundgren. They are here in this silly mess of an action film pretending badly to be a war film, but it is much more frontin' than it is an actual cinematic experience even trivializing the serious war against the Axis Powers and stopping the Nazis (versus the likes of Fury (2014) with Brad Pitt) so this drags on and on and on and on with no major point. Rourke cannot even save this from its long, unbalanced 88 minutes. Wonder if this was longer, but I'm in no hurry to find out. This one is just a waste of talent and good subject matter.

There are no extras.

Ironically, it is the older three films on Blu-ray that look best with the 1080p 2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image on Lance having a really good looking transfer, bringing the Deluxe Color to life as best it can with no fading or major issues, while the 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on Ball was shot on ORWO Color film stocks and the restoration has been criticized by some as inaccurate, but it think it is more on than off. Still, this is ahead of the older Criterion DVD in any case.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Kings is a solid improvement over the DVD version and looks like a new transfer from MGM, so the print does not show the age of the materials used much, making this one of the best-looking older Sinatra film on Blu-ray to date.

However, the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Pigs was supposed to be 2.35 X 1 per its theatrical release, so we don't know if we are getting more frame (which happened sometimes in Super 35mm shooting) or less. It looks lame and flat, partly due to style and I doubt seeing more on the sides of the frame (if we lost anything) doesn't matter much for such a boring presentation. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image DVD is far more awful and very hard to watch.

As for sound, it is evenly matched across all four Blu-rays with the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix on Pigs a bit more limited than expected, the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 mix on Lance a fine approximation of its 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects & better than the DTS-MA lossless 2.0 Stereo version also included, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on Kings an improvement over the DVD and as good as this is likely going to ever sound and the PCM 2.0 Mono lossless sound on Ball benefitting from the restoration as much as possible and more inarguably saved than its image. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Pigs DVD is the sonic dud here, weaker than the already problematic Blu-ray with their limited soundfields.

You can order Firemen's Ball among other extended versions of key films Arrow is known for producing at...


and to order the Broken Lance and Kings Go Forth limited edition Blu-rays, buy them among other great releases while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo


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