on December 22, 2005
I don't know what to say that hasn't been said before, but this is one of the most well-made films of 1969. Period detail is well-presented, acting is excellent, wonderful Panavision widescreen makes this DVD a treasure. William Faulkner wasn't known for his lightness of heart, but this precious memoir shows love, spirit and excitement that sets this film aside. I won't blab away the plot, but Steve McQueen, at the height of his career, is having a ball in a fine performance. Sharon Farrell is so lovely; where did her career go? Mitch Vogel, as young Lucius, gives one of the best kid performances ever; I hate bad kid-actors. Where did his career go? And the most auspicious debut performance came from Oscar-nominated Rupert Crosse, knowing everything, wanting to be included, causing the most trouble, and, ultimately, saving the day. Best in the film! And where did his career go? There's also the great Juano Hernandez, and a really great performance by a horse. And it's always good to see Ruth White, the most reliable character actress since Jane Darwell. Non-obtrusive narration by Burgess Meredith is a plus. The odds seem insurmountable, but they all emerge victorious and young Lucius has life-affirming experiences; shocking, painful and ultimately exciting. And memorable. This film is nothing but fun, and I enjoy it a lot. 1969 brought about some magnificent films: Midnight Cowboy, Anne of the Thousand Days, They Shoot Horses Don't They, Butch Cassidy...and The Reivers is right up there with the best of 'em.
on November 18, 2015
THE REIVERS [1969 / 2015] [Blu-ray] A Reiver is a Rascal! Steve McQueen is the Head Reiver! From The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel by William Faulkner!
In Mississippi at the turn of the 20th century, and it's where we find a grand and spectacular "horseless carriage" that is a shiny yellow 1905 Winton Flyer automobile. Its owner is Mississippi plantation owner "Boss" [Will Geer], who has left it sitting unattended. But hired hand Boon Hogganbeck [Steve McQueen] decides it would be the ideal vehicle to take him and his buddy on a glorious whirlwind jaunt to distant Memphis. And along for the ride is Boss's earnest 12-year-old grandson, who finds himself reluctantly drafted to be the third "reiver" (an old Scottish word for 'thief') aboard his grandfather's car. So starts a bumpy journey that sweeps the trio into encounters with both Boss's raucous gal pal at a brothel and a corrupt racist sheriff, as well as a spellbinding, winner-takes-all horse race with ownership of the Winton Flyer at stake! Based on William Faulkner's esteemed novel, ‘The Reivers’ is an irresistible slice-of-life adventure directed by Mark Rydell [‘The Cowboys’]. Narrated by Burgess Meredith.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1970 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Actor in a Supporting Role for Rupert Crosse. Nominated: Music for an Original Score for a motion picture [not a musical] for John Willimas. 1970 Golden Globe® Awards: Nominated: Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for Steve McQueen. Nominated: Supporting Actor for Mitch Vogel. Writers Guild of America: Nominated: Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium for Screenplay for Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch.
Cast: Burgess Meredith (Narrator), Steve McQueen, Sharon Farrell, Mitch Vogel, Ruth White, Rupert Crosse, Ruth White, Michael Constantine, Clifton James, Juano Hernandez, Lonny Chapman, Will Geer, Allyn Ann McLerie, Lindy Davis, Diane Shalet, Diane Shalet, Pat Randall, Diane Ladd, Ellen Geer, Dub Taylor, Allyn Ann McLerie, Charles Tyner, Shug Fisher, Raymond Guth, Logan Ramsey, Jon Shank, Gloria Calomee, Sara Taft, Vinnette Carroll, John McLiam, Roy Barcroft, Billy Green Bush, John J. Fox, Owen Bush, James Rawley, Al Hopson, Wes Fuller, Ella Mae Brown, Florence St. Peter, Jim Goodwin, Frank Baker (uncredited), Beverlee McKinsey (uncredited), Robert Robinson (uncredited) and Max Wagner (uncredited)
Director: Mark Rydell
Producers: Irving Ravetch, Rick Rosenberg and Robert E. Relyea
Screenplay: Harriet Frank, Jr., Irving Ravetch and William Faulkner (novel)
Composer: John Williams
Cinematography: Richard Moore
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
Running Time: 106 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics / CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘THE REIVERS’  is a nice bawdy film, with a sort of Walt Disney theme with an adult rating. Imagine a charming nostalgia-soaked family-type film about a winsome 11-year-old in turn-of-the-century Mississippi, where Boon Hogganbeck [Steve McQueen], conspires to borrow the car, taking Lucius McCaslin [Mitch Vogel] with him. Stowed away is Ned McCaslin [Rupert Crosse]. The three head for Memphis, where Boon Hogganbeck's sweetheart works in a bordello, where Ned McCaslin trades the car for a racehorse, where Lucius McCaslin discovers the world of adults, from racism and vice to possibilities of honour and courage, where in the process he gets himself cut up in a Memphis bordello defending the good name of a lovely professional lady. But is their redemption for the “reivers” rascals, and a happy outcome? But most importantly the film is beautifully narrated by Burgess Meredith, who is the older character of Lucius McCaslin, and is helped brought to a brilliant screen presentation, by the brilliant adaption of the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel by William Faulkner.
As one of the top male stars of the late 1960s, Steve McQueen was in the position to choose any role he wanted, including the classic film ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ , which he turned down reportedly over a billing dispute with the actor he considered one of his principal rivals, which was Paul Newman. Steve McQueen certainly could have played it safe by sticking to the action roles that had placed him among the top ten box office performers. Instead, he chose ‘THE REIVERS’ , a comic, nostalgic tale based on William Faulkner's final novel, which earned the author his second Pulitzer Prize.
The story, set in 1905, and centres around a wealthy rural Mississippi family, the McCaslins, and their prized possession, a brand new, bright yellow Winton Flyer automobile, the first car owned by anyone in the community. While the family patriarch is away, due to the death of one grandfather, which eventually puts most of the family on a train to attend the funeral including the other grandfather who happens to own the conveyance that provides the impetus for four days of mayhem, which was bought only because grandfather or “Boss” as he is called by employees and family alike decided he needed to own shiny yellow 1905 Winton Flyer automobile "horseless carriage," but is spirited off for a carefree 4 day road trip by hired hand Boon Hogganbeck [Steve McQueen], grandson Lucius McCaslin [Mitch Vogel], and alleged distant cousin Ned McCaslin [Rupert Crosse], a mixed-race young man found on the property as a child and taken into the family. The trio take the car to Memphis, where the young Lucius McCaslin has some wild adventures with his adult companions and learns important lessons about racism and vice but also about honour, redemption and love.
‘THE REIVERS’  is exceptional; especially Mark Rydell is a brilliant master visual storyteller, and his dynamic but subtle use of the frame to tell his story is timeless. The story itself, however, feels a little old fashioned with films that would have been made today, but despite this, it is still a lovely moving film where they experience a number of mostly minor misadventures of Boon Hogganbeck [Steve McQueen], Lucius McCaslin [Mitch Vogel], Ned McCaslin [Rupert Crosse], and the wonderful and spectacular "horseless carriage" of the shiny yellow 1905 Winton Flyer automobile. But without warning Ned McCaslin [Rupert Crosse], mistakenly trading the car for a horse, which they then need to race in order to get the "horseless carriage" of the shiny yellow 1905 Winton Flyer automobile back and here we get to the real climax of this wonderful moving film in that it makes you really cheer and punch your fist in the air in wanting and shouting at the screen in wanting Lucius McCaslin [Mitch Vogel] to win the race, which is helped with the devious Ned McCaslin in finding the horse’s that has a hidden secret and you will have to watch the Blu-ray to find out the outcome of the race, but I can tell you it will gladden your heart. It’s a really lovely charming light funny tale, and one that is so slavishly devoted to its sense of period that recreates the 1912, and it feels like it could have been made in 1912, but of course it is filled with beautiful colour and wonderful sound, to make you forget it was set in the period of the middle of the 20th century.
Despite the film’s seems slightly dated, but instead the film has some beautiful qualities that still keeps working for today’s modern audiences, which is all brought to fruition by the brilliant talented director Mark Rydell’s and of course it the film’s excellent cast compensates for the film’s sometimes weak spots. Rupert Crosse was rightly nominated for an OSCAR® for his work in the film and Steve McQueen is as always is always charismatic as ever in the lead. And another justified OSCAR® nomination went to the superb and brilliant score by John Williams, whose early composition a few years before where John Williams would go on to massive fame with ‘JAWS’ and ‘STAR WARS.’ But most important is that John Williams’s score is one of the main reasons to watch this beautiful film, and it’s beautifully served by the brilliant 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo mix.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘THE REIVERS’ is brought to you via Kino Lorber with a very nice encoded 1080p image, with a really nice 2.35:1 [Panavision] aspect ratio. Despite where they acquired the master, you get quite a nice fine looking transfer that is given a clean crisp upgrade for the high-definition Blu-ray release. The film seems to been deliberately shot in an intentional dream-like haziness image presentation, so details can appear a bit soft every now and again, but despite that, the colours are very vibrant, but still with a natural look. The black levels at times are very strong with a nice sense of depth, especially when you view the darker scenes of Memphis. So overall it is a very good presentation. The visual presentation is top-notch as well, with a wide range of vibrant colours in this period piece production design perfectly balanced against accurately reproduced skin tones.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – With the audio presentation of ‘THE REIVERS’ you get a very nice 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, that has lots of beautiful resonant that brings the best out of the film and what was also really nice is the pleasant sounds of the sputtering engine of the Winton Flyer automobile. The Dialogue is also very crisp and clear, which is always in the centre of the screen. But what really stands out is the brilliant John Williams amazing film score, which is given the right ambience and doesn’t overpower everything. Despite a stereo mix, it would have been so nice to have an upgrade with a 5.1 DTS-HD Surround sound mix. But despite this, it was a very enjoyable sound experience.
Finally, ‘THE REIVERS’ was a much unknown film of Steve McQueen for me especially and is a really wonderful hidden gem, and is a very valuable entry into anyones Blu-ray Collection, and ‘THE REIVERS’ is now in my viewed as a really truly classic film. ‘THE REIVERS’ film starts out very slowly and I nearly gave up, but I persevered and was well rewarded, as it features a brilliant talented cast at the top of their game, catering to a really nice sweet sentimental story with of course a fantastic classic film score by John Williams. Although Kino Lorber has done an quite a good job, but the only thing this company really annoys me with is that they will not include any extras, as I am sure there are some hidden gem documentaries, especially of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. But despite this anomaly, this Blu-ray is such a wonderful and beautiful enjoyable family, this transfer will likely be the best we can expect from this Blu-ray release for the foreseeable future. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom