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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > Comedy > Action > Martial Arts > Spy > Jack Armstrong: The All-American Boy (1947/Columbia/VCI Blu-ray Set**)/Junk Head (2017/Synergetic Blu-ray**)/The Only Way (1970/UMG/VCI Blu-ray**)/Weird Science 4K (1985/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Bl

Cimarron (1931/RKO*)/Cisco Kid: Western Movie Collection (1945 - 1949/VCI DVD Set**)/Enter The Dragon 4K (1973/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Fastest Gun Alive (1956/MGM/*both Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Jack Armstrong: The All-American Boy (1947/Columbia/VCI Blu-ray Set**)/Junk Head (2017/Synergetic Blu-ray**)/The Only Way (1970/UMG/VCI Blu-ray**)/Weird Science 4K (1985/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/**all MVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/C/X/B/B/B/B-/B Sound: C+/C+/B-/B-/C+/C+/C/C+ Extras: C-/C/C+/C/D/C/C/C Films: B-/B-/B+ & B/B-/B-/C/C/C

PLEASE NOTE: The Cimarron (1930) and Fastest Gun Alive Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

This new group of releases are upgrades and revisits of titles we have reviewed over the years, but continue to spawn interest and even a following...

Wesley Ruggles' Cimarron (1931) did not solidify the Western as a full genre, but it was one of the first films that showed the stories could be made for adults and in a big way that was not merely a comedy, musical or B-movie. It also proved that RKO Studios aka Radio Pictures aka RKO Radio Pictures, the last of the major movie studios to launch in the Classical Hollywood period could make movies.

Based on the Edna Ferber book, Richard Dix and Irene Dunne play a married couple trying to get their piece of the American Dream by going West in the big 1899 Oklahoma Land Rush. It won the Oscar for Best Picture and still remains one of the few Westerns ever to do so, let alone get nominated. It holds up well for its age and under the circumstances, holds its own against its decent 1960 remake and plays better than most so-called Westerns made today.

Edna May Oliver, one of the great comic actresses, leads the supporting cast and this looks really good for its age.

Extras include two animated shorts, Lady, Play Your Mandolin and Red-Headed Baby, plus the live-action short The Devil's Cabaret. For more on the Cimarron remake from 1960, read our coverage of Warner Archive's great Blu-ray release of that film:


and you can read our coverage of the out of print soundtrack to that remake at:


The Cisco Kid: Western Movie Collection (1945 - 1949) combines two previous VCI DVD sets that have been popular and filled a curiosity void as the classic pop culture character keeps resurfacing and popping up, including in the band War's massive 1973 hit gold record about Cisco himself that is up there with Low Rider, Spill The Wine and Why Can't We Be Friends? among their many classics.

Here's our older coverage of the last two DVDs in this set with the last six films featured:


The films hold up well enough and the films on the first three DVDs I had not seen in eons since I was a child when such shows would show up on old analog TV all the time. The leads are great and you can see why this was a hit in theaters, then in color in a TV show that still has not surfaced on Blu-ray or DVD like it should have by now. Now you can enjoy how good these films are.

Extras include an interview with Roland and color episodes of the TV series across DVD 1 and DVD 2, a teaser trailer for Roland's co-starring gig in Beneath The 12-Mile Reef (see our coverage of the limited edition Blu-ray (still available new as of this posting) and CD soundtrack (sadly out of print) reviews elsewhere on this site) & four text bios on DVD 4 and five more text bios, plus trailers for the serial Zorro Rides Again, Any Gun Can Play and A Bullet For Sandoval, the latter two on DVD 3 as well. All have additional promos for VCI's line-up.

Robert Clouse's Enter The Dragon 4K (1973) has been restored and upgraded for 4k for its 50th Anniversary. Here's my coverage of the film when it arrived in High Definition on the old, now-defunct HD-DVD format:


An all-time classic, especially in the Martial Arts genre, a slightly longer version is included here and I like that version a little more than the Theatrical Cut. Bruce Lee is as popular as ever and this is among several of his feature films getting 4K restorations and upgraded releases. It is still one of the all-time shocks and awful events Lee died so early and just before this film went on to be a huge box office hit.

After all the martial arts movies, events, innovations, mixed martial arts and so much more, even with so many very talented men and women out there, none of them have ever outdone Bruce Lee and he remains the platinum standard for all that have come after him. He also went all out and even topped his amazing work in all his previous feature films, TV shows, et al. Now you can really see him and his work in action more vividly and palpably than ever before here and that makes this one of the best classic movies to come out in 4K all year. Don't miss it!

Extras include Digital Movie Code, while the disc adds a vintage introduction to the film by Linda Lee Cadwell and a feature-length audio commentary track by Paul Heller and Michael Allin missing on some previous releases.

Russell Rouse's The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) is one of the more underrated westerns of its time and a solid example of a Revenge Western, with Glenn Ford as a man trying just to eke out a living and forget his gunfighter past, but an angry gunslinger (Broderick Crawford in a great performance) is looking for the next big gunfight and eventually, George Temple (Ford) will have to come out of his now-peaceful existence and take him on.

Smart and thoughtful, it is a film more people need to see and now that it has been restored and finally issued in HD, this is the way to see it outside of a mint film print. Legendary actress Jeannie Crain, whose career lasted so long she could be on a list in the Guinness Book of World Records, is with Temple and Russ Tamblin is among the solid supporting cast. This is definitely a film all serious film fans, especially of Westerns, needs to see.

I discussed the film and its great music score by Andre Previn when reviewing its now out of print CD soundtrack at:


Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and two Technicolor Tom & Jerry cartoons: Blue Cat Blues and Down Beat Bear.

Jack Armstrong: The All-American Boy (1947) is still a fun chapter serial about the very popular teen character in action, including with an advanced supercar (with a layer of new fun to it) as electric cars are starting to pop up. You can read more about it at this link to my coverage of the old DVD set:


You can also see the car on the cover used for the review. This is one of Columbia Pictures' better serials (along with their DC Comics entries, often involving the same people who made this one) and deserves to be better remembered than it is. This is a nice upgrade from the old DVD set (see more on that below) and worth a good look for the curious. The character was also in print and part of a big hit radio adventure series.

In the 1960s, Hanna-Barbera wanted to do an animated character, but rights negotiations did not work out. Instead, they created Jonny Quest!

There are sadly no extras.

Takahide Hori's Junk Head (2017) is an ambitious, stop-motion animation film from Japan that is impressive on a visual level, yet like my fellow writer, I was only so impressed at the storyline and felt we had seen much of this before. You can read more about the film in that previous review at this link:


The idea of immortality, infertility and similar issues even surfaced in John Boorman's underrated and highly misunderstood Zardoz (see my Limited Edition Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) for an even more complex look at such issues. No doubt this is very ambitious, but the results are better visually overall. If interested, however, you should see it for yourself because you might find some things here you like.

We finally get an extra in a 46+ minutes behind the scenes/making of featurette.

As I said about Bent Christensen's The Only Way (1970) when I reviewed its old VCI DVD release eons ago, it...

'...is another tale of Jewish people escaping Nazi genocide and has the advantage of an early appearance of Jane Seymour before her international breakthrough role in the 1973 James Bond film Live & Let Die (reviewed elsewhere on this site) as the daughter of a family that must escape Denmark before they are all killed. They don't believe it at first, but it then becomes quickly apparent that the rumors are true. The film is uneven and does not always hold up, but it has its moments and was a UMC release. Better than most of Seymour's TV work too' (especially anything for the hideous Lifetime or Hallmark Channels!

I had mixed feelings about this film, but can at least say it plays as ambitious as ever and shows that Seymour can act outside of bad comedies, melodramas and even more than in her Bond film, which I liked her in. At least it respects its subject matter and is worth a look for what does work.

The trailers/previews from the DVD have been replaced with a stark, graphic documentary about prisoners liberated from a Nazi Concentration Camp, Henri Carter-Bresson's priceless Reunion (1946).

Lastly, we have John Hughes' Weird Science 4K (1985) getting the Ultra HD treatment the popularity of the film would expectedly get. We reviewed the regular Arrow Blu-ray special edition of the film at this link:


Not a big fan of the film, it has certainly aged in odd ways, but in 4K appreciate the use of color if nothing else. Kelly LeBrock is about the only reason to see this at this point beyond curiosity. I had panned it in early DVD reviews and even the hit title song only goes so far. Now you can see it for yourself and you might as well see it in 4K if you are going to spend the time in the first place to do it.

Extras repeat the previous Arrow Blu-ray edition, which are many, should you actually like the film.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Enter The Dragon 4K is remarkable, far better than the HD master used on the Blu-ray and HD-DVD issued 15ish years ago and despite some grain and minor flaws in the Panavision shoot, looks amazing with exceptional color like nothing seen since the film was issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints. Especially with so many scenes with rich, challenging color, many viewers will be shocked and even stunned by the quality. Thus, there are many shots above my letter grade. As impressive, the original theatrical monophonic sound has been upgraded to no less than lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) with (at least) a stereo copy of Lalo Schifrin's great music score and remastering of all the original audio stems to lift this up as well as possible. Apparently, a 5.1 remix was created at some point before this as well. The result is as impressive as the DTS: X mix on Hitchcock's Psycho 4K and the combination is a real pleasure to see.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Weird Science 4K is a big color improvement over older editions of the film, even the 1080p Arrow Blu-ray we reviewed before, but because of the film used and limited cinematography for such a comedy, expect all kinds of grain. Otherwise, this is what you would have seen in the best 35mm prints of the film in first release. As for sound, we get DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (only on the Theatrical Cut) and 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, but both are very limited and sound very aged, even for the age of a film issued in old analog, Dolby System, Dolby A-Type sound. Be careful of volume switching and high volume playback just in case until you get used to it.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Cimarron can show the age of the materials used sometimes, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and looks really good for its age. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix has been remastered as well as can be expected, but the soundtrack is 93 years old and counting, an early sound film and early sound western, so it is going to have sonic limits. However, this is the best this film will ever sound.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Fastest Gun Alive also can show the age of the materials used, but it is supposed to look a little rough and dirty, so here too it is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film. Detail, Video Black and Video White are just fine. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix sounds good for its age and how good the CD soundtrack had sounded upon release.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Jack Armstrong can show the age of the materials used as well, especially when you have a movie chapter serial with all of its variances, but this is a new 4K scan of all of them and far outdoes the old DVD set which was just a little too weak for my tastes. The PCM 2.0 lossless sound is trying to be stereo at times, but it is to help out the limited sonics of the sound that survives and is about as good as can be expected. The good news is that is definitely also sounds better than the old DVD set, so VCI has done the best possible job to restore and upgrade this serial.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Junk Head is much clearer than its DVD counterpart with much more depth, detail and even better color than the DVD version, so animators and fans of animation will love the upgrade, but sadly, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix repeats the older DVD soundtrack. This release deserves a lossless track to go with the image improvements, especially with such high quality stop motion animation.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on The Only Way can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on video and definitely the old DVD with issues and flaws in the print, but detail and color are still improved. I wish the color and detail were better, but VCI could only do so much with the materials they had on hand. The sound is in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, attempting to boost the issues with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono form the old DVD. It does not help by much, but is a very slight improvement.

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image over all five Cisco Kid DVDs repeat the transfers from the previous DVD sets, offering the same menus, but the first three DVDs sound better than the last two and look just that much better, so add lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that also sounds a bit better on the first three DVDs than the last two and they'll be fine until these films are restored in HD.

To order either of the Warner Archive Cimarron (1930) and/or Fastest Gun Alive Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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