Plot: What’s it about?
This a three pack of classic John Wayne movies, some of his best work, in fact. Rather than clump together the movies and their descriptions, I’ll describe and each movie in separate paragraphs, which will make it easier to find the info on a particular movie. My feelings on this set are very positive, it’s a unique chance to own some classic movies, and see Wayne in three types of roles, a cowboy, a soldier, and a romantic. If you are a fan of Wayne, you’ve got to pick this set up, it’s a wonderful treatment for these films.
The first movie in this John Wayne triple feature I’ll be looking at is The Quiet Man. Sean Thornton (John Wayne) is a former professional boxer who has decided to hang up his gloves after killing a man inside the ring. Of course, it was an accident, but Thornton still harbors guilt, and feels fighting is now something he needs to move away from. He returns to his home town to begin anew, and right away falls in love with Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara). Things are not all well however, as Mary Kate’s older brother, who also serves as the town thug, challenges Thornton for dating his sister. With his past haunting him, can Thornton stand up to the town bully, or will he lose his newfound love?
The middle movie in this triple bill is Rio Grande, a western classic that shouldn’t be missed. Lt. Col. York (John Wayne) and the other members of the US Cavalry are in the middle of a war with the Apaches. York and his mean travel to battle some Indians near the Rio Grande, and York comes up with a cunning plan to defeat the Apaches. But this plan ends up placing his men in severe danger, and York and his men must overcome the enemy forces. What’s at stake for York is even higher than life or death, he must fight to restore his honor, and save his family.
The final picture in this John Wayne marathon is Sand of Iwo Jima, which gives us soldier John Wayne, which I think is his best persona. Marine Sgt. Stryker (John Wayne) is the type of military man you hear horror stories about, the guy who puts his recruits through hell, but turns out the best soldiers a country could want. Here, Stryker has a group of young recruits he must turn into soldiers to help the US battle forces against the Japanese. These men are quickly thrown into the fire, as Stryker and his men wage war in one of the most famous of all battles, Iwo Jima.
This set is a perfect opportunity to enter the motion picture career of John Wayne. You get three outstanding performances from the Duke, in three different film genres. This set also serves as a nice entryway to classic films as a whole, I feel. So, whether you’re a diehard fan of John Wayne, or this is your first exposure to him, this excellent set from Artisan offers something for everyone.
Video: How does it look?
Again, I will give a brief rundown of each feature here, instead of giving an overview of the set. The Quiet Man is presented full frame, in color, and is the weakest of the three transfers. The colors are bold and strong, but at times bleed and wander into oversaturation. Not to an extreme point, though, as it does not ruin the viewing experience. Flesh tones are a little on the red side, but again, not enough to distract the viewer. This is by far the best available edition of this movie, but I felt the need to point out the minor flaws.
Rio Grande is presented in its original full frame ratio, losing only minute information on the sides. The film is shown in the intended black and white format, and it looks excellent. The image is so sharp it seems a total restoration has been done, as the print is free of flecks, grain, and other wear signs. The contrast levels are prefect, with shadow layering at accurate levels. I am amazed at how good this movie looks!
Much like Rio Grande, Sands of Iwo Jima seems to have had some serious restoration work done, as the print looks simply amazing. Easily one of the best black and white transfers I have seen, with no errors at all to discuss.
Audio: How does it sound?
All three films are presented in digitally remastered mono sound, which is sufficient for the audio material. Dialogue is always clear and at a decent volume, and the music comes through with a nice sound as well. The discs are also free of the annoying hiss that tends to pop up on mono tracks, which is a huge plus.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Each disc contains the film’s theatrical trailer, as well as a behind the scenes documentary. The documentaries run about thirty minutes in duration, and are filled with great behind the scenes footage, hosted by Leonard Maltin.