The Man From Laramie (Blu-ray)

June 1, 2017 6 Min Read

Review by: Jake Keet

Plot: What’s it about?

I love a good western. When I was growing up my favorite movie was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and I must have watched my beat-up VHS copy that I purchased at the Memphis Flea Market a hundred times. As I have grown older I have watched numerous Western films and have been saddened to see that this genre of film has all but disappeared from the theaters. I recently purchased The Man From Laramie during Twilight Time’s recent sale. It was a blind purchase, but I have come to realize that my sensibilities line up pretty well with those of Nick Redman and Brian Jamieson of Twilight Time. I have a few boutique labels that almost never let me down as far as the content that they present. Twilight Time is one of the most consistently astute with their choices.

The Man from Laramie was the fifth and final collaboration between director Anthony Mann and James Stewart. The story revolves around Will Lockhart (James Stewart,) a mysterious man who delivers supplies to the small town of Coronado to the town’s storekeeper Barbara Waggoman (Cathy O’Donnell.) Will is not just in town to deliver goods, he is trying to figure out who sold rifles to the neighboring Apache Indians, because his brother was killed along with an entire platoon of soldiers. While in town, his group of wagons is attacked while picking up a bit of say to take back home. His mules are killed, his wagons burned, and he is dragged through a fire by Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol,) the unruly son of the wealthy landowner Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp.) Luckily, Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy) stops Dave from further madness. When Will fights Dave, Vic breaks up the fight and ends up tangling with Will. Will is thrown in jail and is bailed out by Kate Canady, a neighboring landowner to Alec’s family, on the condition that he come work for her.

The Man from Laramie is closer to an actual drama than a western in many respects. This is due to the fact that the characters in the film are not caricatures. Alec wants to see his son Dave safe and to see him become a good man. Vic wants to be recognized for his hard work and treated as an equal. Will wants to see those responsible for his brother’s death brought to justice. Dave has a petty jealousy of his father’s affection. When characters all have understandable and realistic desires it leads to much better filmmaking. This film never falls into melodrama, instead it realistically allows people to follow through with actions based upon their realistic desires.

This is really filmmaking at the highest level. The script by Philip Yordan and Frank Burt is engrossing. The acting is great – especially by James Stewart who will make you feel every raw emotion and feeling of pain he endures throughout the film. The cinematography by Charles Lang is beautiful and takes in some gorgeous scenery in full panoramic wide shots. The direction by Anthony Mann is reserved and well coordinated – tense and emotional with a good pacing throughout the film. Overall, this is one of the best releases on the Twilight Time label and a fantastic film. Definitely check this one out.

Video: How’s it look?

Twilight Time provided an absolutely incredible new 4K transfer of the film using an MPEG-4 AVC codec. This film is capably shot by cinematographer Charles Lang. This film is a great example of a film that just must be seen on Blu-Ray. The beautiful panoramic views of the mountainous desert terrain are a pretty sight to see. The transfer has excellent clarity and color reproduction. I did not see any signs of DNR and the print appeared to be in good shape. This is arguably the most beautiful transfer in Twilight Time’s amazing arsenal of films.

Audio: How’s it sound?

This DTS-HD MA 5.1 track has excellent fidelity to the original elements. Given that this film was originally just in 2.0 stereo, the front speakers carry the majority of the dialogue, but the impeccable score by master composer George Duning has been given a tremendous boost in the 5.1 mix. For purists they have also included the 2.0 mix as an option. Really tremendous work here folks.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Isolated Score and Effects Track

The Bottom Line

The Man From Laramie is a potent film about jealousy and morality that happens to also be a western. Jimmy Stewart is as great as you would expect, but it is a true ensemble piece with excellent turns by pretty much everybody in the cast. Rarely have I seen a film that doesn’t make even the slightest misstep, but this is absolutely one of those. I am glad that Twilight Time has released this in an absolutely jaw-dropping beautiful new 4K transfer. In my opinion this film deserves classic status. Highly recommended.

Disc Scores