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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > Racism > Politics > Comedy > :arge > Devil's Doorway (1950*)/3 Godfathers (1948 w/1936 original/*all MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)/Tin Star (1957/MVD/Paramount/Arrow Blu-ray)

Devil's Doorway (1950*)/3 Godfathers (1948 w/1936 original/*all MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)/Tin Star (1957/MVD/Paramount/Arrow Blu-ray)

Picture: B Sound: B-/C+/B- Extras: C/C+/B Films: B-/C+/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Devil's Doorway and 3 Godfathers Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for four key westerns, two directed by one legend in the genre, another by yet another legend....

Anthony Mann's The Devil's Doorway (1950) is a western that wants to be progressive, but is unfortunately, a but regressive to and that is because Robert Taylor plays a Civil War solider and hero who happens to be Native American. He wants to retire to his own land, but now, the U.S. government will not recognize land rights for those who have always owned the land and a local battle will ensue.

Of course, Taylor is not that ethnicity at all and he actually wears make-up to make him look darker (Red face? Black face? Brown face?) and it undermines the whole film, though it is trying to sincerely do the story it has to tell and a 'real' Native American is in the cast and we hope others among the Native Americans are Native American. With that said, this was a sort of progress as the genre was starting to get more serious and look at the truth and consequences of North America being invaded by outsiders and what they did to it.

MGM barely distributed it and later when other such westerns surfaced, only limitedly so, too much of a downer versus their usual upbeat entertainment. Cheers to an effective supporting cast that includes Louis Calhern, Paula Raymond, James Mitchell, Marshall Thompson, Rhys Williams, Fritz Leiber and Edgar Buchanan. Despite its flaws and limits, The Devil's Doorway is still one of the more challenging westerns of its time, deals with racism honestly in its own way and was a bellwether of what was to come in the genre. All serious fans should see it at least once.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and two classic animated cartoons: The Chump Champ and Cue-Ball Cat.

John Ford's 3 Godfathers (1948) is the third and most successful version of the tale of how three men (John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., and Pedro Armendariz (From Russia With Love)) land up having to help a baby after burying his mother and it will be a wild ride all the way. More comical than the 1936 version also included, the script ups the comedy and reliance on its leads, especially Wayne to deliver the expected film and the result was a hit.

Not that I was ever a big fan of this film, but I had not seen the 1936 original in its entirety and I think I like it a bit more, more naturalistic and realistic than this version, plus the child seems more in jeopardy in a way that is not insulting or pandering, whereas in the new film, he is in no major trouble at all since it is so Hollywood. I also like Chester Morris in the 1936 version, an actor who had a good run and was impressive as detective Boston Blackie in a movie and radio series with the character.

Now you can choose between the two and its nice to have them both on one disc.

Extras include Original Theatrical Trailers for both versions of the films included and the 1936 version of the film.

Anthony Mann's Tin Star (1957) has finally made it to Blu-ray and being one of the few large-frame format westerns, fans will be happy for the upgrade. We originally covered the film in its decent DVD edition at this link:


Anthony Perkins and Henry Fonda play off of each other well, but the supporting cast is more effective than it might first seem, including Betsy Palmer, John McIntyre, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, Russell Simpson, Mickey Finn and among the uncredited townspeople, Frank Cady and Richard Farnsworth.

With so many films having gone to color and so many older westerns being monochromatic and grainy, it is interesting to see one in black and white be so clear, even clearer than Wayne's 70mm The Big Trail in 1930. This is almost a one-of-a-kind western and all serious western and film fans should see it at least once. Nice its been upgraded so well.

Extras include a...

  • Brand new audio commentary by film historian Toby Roan

  • Apprenticing a Master: a brand new appreciation of the film by author and critic Neil Sinyard

  • Beyond the Score: a brand new interview with Peter Bernstein, son of Elmer Bernstein, on his father's timeless musical mastery

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • Image Gallery

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley

  • Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Hadley

  • Six postcard-sized reproduction artcards

  • and an Illustrated Collector's Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw, and original press notes.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Doorway can show the age of the materials used here and there, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on home video and shows off the incredible cinematography by Director of Photography John Alton, A.S.C., very effectively. I hope this helps the film to be more remembered with the two big Anthony Mann/John Alton Noir classics they made better: T-Men and Raw Deal.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Technicolor 1948 Godfathers is a pretty good approximation of the dye-transfer three-strip process, if not as stunning as other Technicolor films and westerns. Director of Photography Winston Hock, A.S.C., had also shot the Technicolor on Joan Of Arc the same year, plus later lensed The Quiet Man, The Searchers (a VistaVision classic being released in a a restored edition in 2024,) Jet Pilot, Robinson Crusoe On Mars and Necromancy. It is consistent enough and the black and white 1936 version (an earlier silent version was made in 1916, but sadly is not included here) looks pretty good for its age too.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Tin Star was shot in VistaVision and can look really good, but also can show the age of the materials used at times, though it outdoes the then-decent DVD just the same. The sound is here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix upgrade, but we also get PCM 2.0 Stereo and Mono mixes for purists. I like the Stereo and 5.1 best and may be from the soundmasters created when the DVD was issued. Not bad.

The Warner Archive Blu-rays both have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes that allow the originally theatrical monophonic films to sound as good as they ever will, so they are delivering their top-grade restorations as usual.

To order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, The Devil's Doorway and/or 3 Godfathers, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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