Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Comedy > War > John Wayne – An American Icon (Universal)

John Wayne – An American Icon (Universal)


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



A slew of John Wayne sets are being issued at the same time on DVD and Universal has dug into their archive and come up with five films featuring Wayne’s affiliations with three studios.  John Wayne – An American Icon collects the films on two DVDs and they are:


Seven Sinners (1940) is an earlier teaming of Wayne and Marlene Dietrich as a Naval officer falls for a singer with a dark past, offers more action than melodrama and holds up well for its time.


Shepherd Of The Hills (1941) is the third film version of the Ozark Mountain people tale involving a curse and the traditions of the region.  Done as a book come to life in its opening credits, it becomes a film unto itself and has an interesting use of color.


Pittsburgh (1942) re-teams Wayne and Marlene Dietrich as Wayne and Randolph Scott find themselves in a triangle as riches await in the coal industry, though Pittsburgh was always the Steel City.  Muddy and confining, it makes for an interesting Hollywoodized version of an American industry now long gone.


The Conqueror (1950) is Wayne’s amusingly catastrophic turn as Genghis Khan, but also happens to be a big sprawling production that is still interesting, even when it is unintentionally amusing and outright bad.


Jet Pilot (1957) has Wayne in Howard Hughes’ attempt to do a second variation on his early megahit Hell’s Angels, but the film is not that good, though Janet Leigh makes for an interesting co-star.



These are some odd films from Wayne’s career, with the first three from his big, early studio peak, while the latter two show Wayne coping with the loss of Republic, than RKO as he held on to his independence as Hollywood went through changes in its decline.  Wayne’s star power helped him survive that.  All five projects were ambitious and risk-taking enough to keep his career interesting and star shining.  That is why this set is worth a look.


The image is about the same throughout the despite the various ages and aspect ratios of the films.  Sinners, Hills and Pittsburgh are 1.33 X 1, all black and white except Hills in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor from Universal’s old Paramount Pictures holdings.  It looks good, if not great.  The anamorphically enhanced remaining films are also in color, both RKO Pictures that Universal distributed before the studio folded.  The Conqueror was shot in CinemaScope at 2.35 x 1, while Jet Pilot began shooting in 1950 and was flat widescreen by the time it was issued.  Both were also processed in processed in three-strip dye-transfer Technicolor, but they both lack full color fidelity, consistency and do not have the detail they should either.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all five titles is about the same, though Sinners is more average and shows its age the most.  A few trailers for the films are the only extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com