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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Western > Revenge > Murder > Mystery > Gangster > Crime > Music > Racism > TV > Bravados, The (1958/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/C.B. Strike: The Series (2018/Warner DVD Set)/The Cotton Club (1984/Orion/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/The Hired Hand (1971/MVD/A

Bravados, The (1958/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/C.B. Strike: The Series (2018/Warner DVD Set)/The Cotton Club (1984/Orion/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/The Hired Hand (1971/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Television's Lost Classics, Volume One (1955, 1956/MVD/VCI Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Bravados Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while The Cotton Club is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and will play on all Blu-ray players. Both can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a good helping of genre dramas for you to be in the know about...

Henry King's Bravados, The (1958) was released to some success as a Western for adults, something the genre had to deal with because of its B-movie and shorts origins going back to the silent era and as a staple of Saturday Morning Movie Serials starting in the 1930s. The original 1939 Stagecoach changed that, but by the 1950s, Westerns and Musicals were starting to change and wear thin. Musicals were faced with the rise of Rock Music, vinyl records and soon, stereo, while Westerns were faced with the realities of hidden genocide and lies about the way the West was won versus covering up for some ugly truths.

Gregory Peck is the star of this Revenge Western where he searches for whomever raped and killed his wife, ugly but that was the 'adult' point the genre was trying to reach by this time to survive. Unfortunately, with 'Hollywood Indians' (read fake Native Americans) and and uneven screenplay (from the writer of Johnny Guitar, so what happened?), the film always had its problems and has not aged well. When the accused escape, he goes a hunting for them.

There is some money here along with a decent cast that includes a young Joan Collins (always underrated), Stephen Boyd, Henry Silva, Albert Salmi, Andrew Duggan and Lee Van Cleef. It even has solid cinematography by Leon Shamroy, A.S.C., that even the old CinemaScope lenses cannot totally hold back. However, it is a bit off, especially when all is said and done.

Yet, it still has a following, so Fox decided this should be one of the licensed Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays and that brings us to one of the more interesting features of the film, its music score. Composed by more than one big name, we reviewed the now out-of-print limited edition CD of the music featured here on an isolated sound track, at this link that will explain who composed what...


So it may not be my favorite, but you can see it has more than a bit of a cult following and is worth a look just to see how all over the place it is. I like the actors, but I never bought it after the first few scenes.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer had color by DeLuxe and used the old CinemaScope lens system, so expect flaws, but the transfer is odd. IT may be warmed and a little richer than the old DVD, but it is also a little redder, more on the teal side and a shade darker than I would have liked, so you cannot always see the background as clearly as I expect was intended.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes in 5.1, a weak 4.0 representation of the best original sound and 2.0 Stereo. I prefer the 5.1 lossless mix best representing the 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects, but the 4.0 should sound better. You can hear some flaws in the music as we did on the CD eons ago, yet the sound has survived well enough that it is not too much of a distraction.

Extras include a DigiPak with a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray disc adds a Fox Movietone Newsreel connected to the film, already noted Isolated Music Score and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, acclaimed writer J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) takes on the modern day crime thriller genre with C.B. Strike: The Series (2018). From the BBC and Cinemax, C.B. Strike is divided into three segments:

The Cuckoo's Calling (divided into three episodes)

The Silkworm (divided into two episodes)

Career of Evil (also divided into two episodes)

Similar to Sherlock Holmes in many ways, C.B. Strike is a brilliant detective whose lives a hardly impressive life on Denmark Street in London. Combatting his personal demons, Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) helps in the solving of various murder cases that the police haven't been to solve. Along with his assistant, Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) they attempt to solve the unsolvable.

Presented in anamorphically enhanced standard definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, the show looks and sounds as good as it can on the compressed DVD format. The show has unique cinematography and nice contrast and colors.

Special Features include a Behind the Scenes Featurette.

Honestly, I found the show to be kinda drab and nothing too spectacular. It's nicely made and acted but all in all it's just like every other detective show.

After One From the Heart (1982, reviewed elsewhere on this site) caused Francis Coppola to loose his new physical studio and go into debt, he started to make smaller films, but also tried once more to do a big epic that would again involve gangsters and add much more music. Orion Pictures was happy to work with him (the mini-major was founded by United Artists executives who had worked with Coppola on Apocalypse Now (1979), et al) and the subject would be about The Cotton Club (1984) where African American performers performed for white audiences back in the 1930s.

Richard Gere is a musician who lands up becoming involved in the clashing mess of music and murder amongst various gangsters (James Remar as Dutch Schultz, Joe Dallesandro as Lucky Luciano, Fred Gwynne as Frency Demange and Bob Hoskins as Owney Madden among others) are credible and matched, even surpassed by the talent on stage (Larry Marshall as Cab Calloway, Gregory Hines as Sandman Williams, etc.) so Coppola and company easily got that one down. Add the supporting cast that includes Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Allen Garfield, Nicolas Cage, Lawrence Fishburne, Julian Beck, John P. Ryan, Tom Waits, Jennifer Gray, Woody Strode, Diane Verona, Sofia Coppola and even Mario Van Pebbles as a dancer, then you get how talent-packed this is in front of the camera. No argument there and they were serious about working with Coppola.

The costumes by Milena Canonero are authentic, John Barry music score solid and Richard Sylbert Production Design strong. So why was the film a critical and commercial disappointment? For one thing, the critics were out to get Coppola again (!!!), so that did not help, but the behind-the-scenes portion was a fiasco that included someone getting actually shot to death, so that bad press did not help. Also, some found it dizzying that we were not seeing the musical performances on their own, but as upscale background to the murders and other crimes in a way that may have made it confusing or even artificial versus the first two Godfather films.

In all this, the film runs 129 minutes in what is its longest version available, but is this really the cut Coppola wanted? Did he lose control of the mise-en-scene or final cut? Might this have actually worked better in a longer, different cut? Since all we get here is an Original Theatrical Trailer, we don't know. It has enough moments, of course, to make it worth a look, but expect odd moments that don't necessarily gel. Not being a biog hit, Coppola continued his smaller films until the package deal that was Godfather III, though Tucker has its moments too.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used and has what looks like an old HD master, but Director of Photography Stephen Goldblatt, A.S.C. (Outland, The Hunger, Prince Of Tides, the first two Lethal Weapon films, Batman Forever) uses the framing to make it look big, large, huge, like an event and knowing they would issue the film in 70mm blow-up prints. This transfers has detail issues and flaws, but you can still imagine what this would look like on a huge screen like that.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix is unfortunately NOT a representation of the 6-track Dolby magnetic stereo soundmaster a 70mm blow-up would have offered, so this is the standard Dolby System mix with older, analog Dolby A-type noise reduction with Pro Logic surrounds that regular 35mm presentations would have had at their best. Though good for what it is, Coppola was applying audiophile music standards to film like hardly anyone else at the time, so any 4K upgrade should include the original sound remastered.

Peter Fonda stars and directs (for the first time) The Hired Hand (1971), which is a slow burn Western/Drama that's very nicely done. Remastered from the original film elements (more recently than you'd imagine) by Universal and presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Academy, this is certainly an impressive disc for Fonda fans to absorb.

The Hired Hand also stars Warren Oates, Verna Bloom, Robert Pratt, Severn Darden, Rita Rogers, and Ted Markland.

The centers around a man named Harry (Fonda) who decides to return home to his wife and farm after seven years of being a drifter. Tired of having no direction in life and no longer in the same mindset as his friend Archie (Oates), Harry decides to try and re-form his relationship with his daughter and hopefully rekindle his failed marriage.

The film looks very nice on this 1080p high definition transfer that preserves the 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and has an uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio track that's crystal clear. For a film as nicely shot as this one, it hasn't aged much as this restoration is pretty sharp and feels like it could have been shot last week.

Special Features include...

Audio commentary by actor-director Peter Fonda

The Return of The Hired Hand, a 2003 documentary containing interviews with Fonda, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, composer Bruce Langhorne, actor Verna Bloom and others

Deleted scenes

The Odd Man, Charles Gormley and Bill Forsyth's 1978 documentary portrait of Scottish screenwriters, including Alan Sharp [Blu-ray exclusive]

An Interview with Martin Scorsese

Warren Oates and Peter Fonda at the National Film Theatre, an audio recording of the actors' appearance at the NFT in 1971.

Stills gallery


TV spots

Radio spots

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

and Exclusive Insert Booklet with an essay by Kim Morgan and full color photos.

The Hired Hand is certainly a slow burn, but its gorgeous to look at and is worth checking out for the performances by Peter Fonda and Warren Oates alone.

Finally, we have an unusual Blu-ray release dubbed Television's Lost Classics, Volume One that offers two drams originally produced live for television in the mid-1950s for broadcast on two different anthology series, which were very prominent and common at the time. They both happen to star future movie star and legendary film director John Cassavetes in the leads with good casts and in interesting stories that are decent.

I was not a big fan of either, but they are interesting and feature two directors who moved onto the big screen. No less than Sidney Lumet directed Crime In The Streets (1955, The Elgin Hour, ABC) with Cassavetes as the head of a group of juvenile crime kids who is about to go beyond a bad reputation while being threatening and abusive to everyone including his own mother and baby brother! No Right To Kill (1956, Climax! from CBS) has Cassavetes in a Crime and Punishment update that shows again his gritty acting skills, even if the work has it limits, well directed enough by Buzz Kulik.

Robert Preston, Mark Rydell, Glenda Farrell and Van Dyke Parks are the cast for the first show, while we have Terry Moore and Robert H. Harris in the second. That is more than enough to make them both curios and deserve this kind of treatment. Add that they retained the commercials in both copies and you should give both a look, flaws, limits and all.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used as these are 16mm and/or 35mm copies of broadcasts that included pre-filmed advertisements at times, but the rest is in kinescope which has a camera film the image off of an old picture tube (videotape had not been invented and readily available yet) and we get distortions that are not corrected. That's fine for purists, but too bad the original and a corrected version did not coexist on these discs. The PCM 2.0 Mono is as good and as good as it can be for its age and time, especially with old TV audio standards that only started to go stereo in the 1980s.

The only extra is a Gag Reel of Bloopers from the lawyer series The Defenders that is odd, but interesting.

To order The Bravados limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other exclusives while supplies last at these links:




...and to order the The Cotton Club Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find titles at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Strike, Hand)



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