Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TWO RODE TOGETHER - DVD REVIEW


On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, I found this at a K-Mart (yes, K-mart still exists in Australia) amongst all the usual new release DVDs.  It was a great find knowing full well that TWO RODE TOGETHER (1961) is one of the few John Ford films still not available on DVD or Blu-Ray in North America.  It’s a damn shame too.

James Stewart stars as Guthrie McCabe, a corrupt US Marshall who is hired by the US Army along with his friend, Lieutenant Jim Gary (Richard Widmark) to help the people of Fort Grant to free some captives, which have been held by the Comanche for a number of years.  Through some tense negotiations with the Comanche leader Quanah Parker (Harry Brandon), they manage to get a young man and Elena (Linda Cristal), the current wife of warrior Stone Calf (Woody Strode) back to “civilized” society, but the people of Fort Grant soon realize their troubles are far from over.

Dismissed by Ford himself, TWO RODE TOGETHER never seemed to get the respect it so truly deserves.  Exploring similar themes from Ford’s earlier and, arguably, best film The SEARCHERS (1956), TWO RODE TOGETHER doesn’t have the scope, the beauty or even inherent anger of his earlier masterpiece, but Stewart and Widmark give it their all and deliver absolutely first-rate performances.  The now infamous scene of Stewart and Widmark sitting on a riverbank having a casual discussion (for almost 10 minutes in one static shot without a edit) is amazing in its simplicity, but quite daring in its execution and a terrific showcase of their talent.  Like many of his roles in Anthony Mann’s westerns, Stewart once again adds a level of intensity to his role as McCabe, which is nicely complemented by Widmark’s more understanding and humane approach to the situation these two men are confronted with.  Special mention should also go to Annelle Hayes as Belle Aragon, the owner of the saloon and brothel where McCabe is first seen, her tough-as-nails character is more influential on McCabe than first thought; it’s too bad she doesn’t have more screen time.

Sony Pictures have released TWO RODE TOGETHER in a nice 1.85:1 widescreen version that is also enhanced for 16x9.  English, French, German, Italian and Spanish language options are included with optional subtitle options in 17 different languages including English captions for the hearing impaired.  No extras are included, not even a trailer.  This very same version (with a different cover) was also released in the UK and you can order here.

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