Plot: What’s it about?
Paul (Stuart Whitman) is a rather shady fellow, but he can take care of himself when his misdeeds are called. He proved this when he won a duel, which was initiated after he stole another man’s woman. While he should be pleased to have survived, he also learned the man he killed was a judge’s son. And not the kind of judge who has a soft heart. Of course, Paul hightails it out of the area and heads to Texas, where a ranger named Cutter (John Wayne) locates and arrests him. Now the odd pair make their way back to the scene of the crime, clashing the entire journey. But when circumstances call for the two to trust each other with their lives, the tension really mounts. They might be as opposite as possible, but if Paul and Cutter want to survive the bumpy road ahead, they’ll need to learn to work together…and fast.
This isn’t one of John Wayne’s best efforts, but The Comancheros still offers up some solid entertainment. The movie does seem kind of off-kilter, but that is due in part to a shift in production. Director Michael Curtiz left a good portion of the shoot in John Wayne’s hands. I am unsure how much of an impact this had on the production, but it could explain why this feels disjointed at times. Even so, The Comancheros is a brisk, light western that aims to please. The Duke turns in his usual performance, while Lee Marvin, Jack Elam, Stuart Whitman, and others provide a capable supporting cast. The story is passable, but never seems to gain traction, which leads to a less than ideal conclusion. But I think The Comancheros has enough enjoyable moments to make up for the inconsistent pace and unremarkable finale. So if you’re a fan of The Duke or westerns as a genre, then The Comancheros is worth a look, especially when it looks as it does here.
Video: How does it look?
The Comancheros is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. This is a transfer that will have fans blown away, as the movie has never looked this good on home video. The print is nearly pristine, with minimal debris to report, while overall clarity is off the charts. The level of detail here is remarkable, so you can retire your DVD without hesitation. I found contrast to be spot on as well, while colors are natural and unwavering. This is simply a beautiful visual effort that will no doubt thrill fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
A DTS HD 5.1 option is on deck and it sounds great. The source kind of limits the amount of surround use, but there is still some nice presence. And I prefer a more reserved, natural sound than one with a lot of hollow, force surround presence. So when the movie calls for an extra kick, this track obliges. The music also makes good use of the surrounds, while dialogue is clear and tight from start to finish. This disc also includes a 4.0 soundtrack, Spanish and French language tracks, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This audio commentary is actually a collection of relevant audio interviews, but it still works quite well. A quarter of actors provide their memories from the shoot, with informative results. This format allows for the best stories to be cherry picked, so there is not much down time to speak of here. Just stories about the shoot and of course, about John Wayne. A twenty-four minute featurette looks at the historical basis for the film and makes an interesting watch. But The Duke at Fox, a forty minute look at John Wayne’s career, is even better. This is a well made, informative piece that fans of The Duke won’t want to miss. This release also includes the vintage comic book about the film’s story, an audio interview with Stuart Whitman, a brief newsreel about an award the film won, and two of the film’s theatrical trailers.