High Lonesome (VCI/1950)
Sound: C- Extras: C Film: C
Some Westerns stick with a formula and will not let go, no
matter how bad they get. Alan Le May
wrote and directed High Lonesome (1950) in a story where a series of
murders lands suspicion on an unknown visitor (John Barrymore Jr.) when
authorities cannot (or will not) figure out who did it. The result is a possible witch hunt, but
then a strange twist intercedes, though it cannot save the film in time.
Chill Wills and Jack Elam show up, as they did in most
films of the genre at the time, but everyone else is an unknown and the film is
often confused with an equally unfamous non-Western with Louis Gossett Jr. made
decades later. The other obnoxious
thing about the film is the use of children as filler for a problematic
script. Without them as padding, this
could have been a bad Gunsmoke episode, with a better cast by default.
The film was shot in three-strip Technicolor by
cinematographer W. Howard Greene and the problematic print shown here is
presented at 1.33 X 1 (though was it 1.66 X 1?
We cannot say for certain) has softness and colors that are starting to
go. It is also color that seems a shade
too dark. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is
worse, very choppy in places, with some sound dropouts from the
several-generations down source and some brittleness to boot. Extras include a stills gallery with poster
art, text bios, a VCI promo for other Western DVDs and an average episode of Stories
of The Century that only is better than the film, because it is
shorter. For completists only.
- Nicholas Sheffo