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The Horse Soldiers [Blu-ray]
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This is a fantastic transfer, as others have mentioned. I spotted literally one damaged frame, with a "V" shaped crease in it. The colors blaze off the screeen, and although there are no booklets, inserts, or extras (other than the original trailer), the disc is a real keeper.
Although many see this picture as "Ford-lite," there are several classic Ford touches throughout the film. The opening shot of the calvary marching in a sundown silhouette is stirring. The charge of the child soldiers is a great moment (you see Wayne tip his hat to them as he rides off).
For me, I like the subtle, "hidden" Ford touches in all of his films, which reveal telling information about characters without the overbearing, in-your-face, and just plain heavy-handed direction in today's movies.
In "Horse Soldiers", the dyed-in-the-wool Southern patriot Hannah Hunter has spent several days as prisoner of the Union soldiers. At one point, in order to make her feel better, a soldier gives her a candle for light. Another offers her a fragment of a looking glass. The soldier holds up the broken mirror, and when she looks at her reflection she can see the soldier's Yankee cap over the top of it, as if she wore it herself. That's Ford telling us she's been converted, without slapping us in the face or dumbing it down for us.
You'll see familiar Ford faces pop up here and there, too. Jack Pennick is in just about all of John Ford's westerns.Read more ›
John Ford captures, in vivid, robust color, the pageantry of the Union and Confederate cavalries. With flags flying, horses pounding, and bugles blaring, Ford and Wayne create sheer movie entertainment. The musical score by David Buttolph perfectly captures the varying moods of the film and complements the stirring visual images. From "I Left My Love" to the "Bonnie Blue Flag," the music accents the film's emotions. William Holden and Constance Towers are well-cast as Wayne's nemesis. The supporting cast is bolstered with many Wayne regulars, including Ken Curtus (Festus from "Gunsmoke").
Many criticize the factual inaccuracies in John Wayne films. So what! He didn't intend to make documentaries, he intended to make rousing, entertaining movies. I will always believe this was his best...
Update: Just looked at my copy of Horse Soldiers on regular DVD. A far better better copy. Colors are correct and no fading. Obviously the Blu-Ray transfer is the issue.
May 2015: Just got a recent Blu-Ray copy and the quality, while not 2015 standards of course, is far superior to the original Blu-Ray version I reviewed. I've upgraded to 4 stars. Be nice if this film was ever restored to the original release quality
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Probably my favorite John Wayne (henceforth JW) movie, with the plus of having William Holden (WH) co-starring as the war-weary Army surgeon who travels with the troops on this... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Mark Paul Casagrande
One of the best with John's Wayne & Ford again showing their great qualities respectively.Published 20 days ago by James
This film was problematic from the start. Reportedly, William Holden and John Ford did not get along, arguing continuously throughout the production. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Einsatz
4 1/2 stars -- To my surprise, I liked this movie better than some of the better-known Ford/Wayne collaborations. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stanley Crowe
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