'The Far Country: Limited Edition 2-Disc'
(James Stewart, Walter Brennan, Ruth Roman, John Mcintire, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1954) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: An archetypal example of its genre, 'The Far Country' is one of five superb westerns the screen legend James Stewart (Vertigo, Man of the West) made with acclaimed Hollywood auteur Anthony Mann (El Cid, The Man from Laramie).
Blu-ray Verdict: The fourth of five westerns Anthony Mann did with James Stewart, this one involves a hard bitten cattleman named Jeff Webster who takes a cattle drive from Wyoming to Alaska, via Seattle.
He hooks up in Seattle with his partners Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan) and Rube Morris (Jay C. Flippen) that he has sent ahead of time in order to make preparations for the boat trip, north.
But first, he has to put up with insubordinate trail hands, cheating riverboat captains and the charms of coy, manipulative Ronda Castle (Ruth Roman) who believes Jeff could be a valuable ally in the future.
That's why she hides him out on the boat while the captain's looking for him for the earlier (and justifiable) killing of a trail hand.
Jeff also has the misfortune of running into sleazy Judge Gannon (John McIntire) who runs the town of Skagway, Alaska. Gannon locks Jeff up for disrupting his public hanging by running his cattle through town.
He fines Jeff the ownership of his cattle and Jeff just has to eat crow for the time being.
In the meantime, Jeff agrees to ride point for Ronda up to Dawson in order to deliver supplies. But this is just a ruse so Jeff, Ben and Rube can slip back into Skagway and steal his cattle back.
Of course Judge Gannon finds out about this and is right behind but is delayed by Jeff with a rifle while Ben races the cattle over the Canadian border out of Gannon's reach.
After avoiding an avalanche and another shootout with some other Skagway men, they finally reach Dawson where Jeff sells his cattle to the highest bidder, which just happens to be Ronda who then promptly sets up a new gambling house in Dawson.
Jeff then takes his money and buys himself a claim and starts panning for gold.
But then Judge Gannon comes up to Dawson to get in on the gold action up there, and tells Jeff that he was getting a little bored with Skagway and wants to try his luck up in the Klondike, himself.
That involves bring some hired gunman with him and forcibly stealing some of the other miner's claims. Jeff and Ben now feel it's time to clear out while the goings are good, leaving Rube to fend for himself as a most ineffective sheriff against Gannon and his gang.
They look for a back way out only to find themselves ambushed by Gannon's men because Ben made the mistake of opening his big mouth. Ben is killed and Jeff is severely wounded but that doesn't save Judge Gannon from his just due.
The ending shootout at night on the muddy Dawson street pretty much takes care of that. First Jeff kills two of Gannon's best gunman (Jack Elam and Robert Wilkie).
Then as Ronda comes out to warn Jeff that Gannon is trying to slip around behind him, Gannon shoots her in the back and she dies right there in Jeff's arms. Then Jeff kills Gannon as he's hiding under a wooden sidewalk. Revenge has spoken.
This is another rip-roaring western that's right up there with THE NAKED SPUR and THE MAN FROM LARAMIE. Featuring some glorious Alberta cinematography by William Daniels, 'The Far Country' is one of the best, and well-written '50s westerns ever made. To me, it's an A-list keeper of the genre, and of films in general.
This film can be seen in both 1:85.1 and 2.00:1 presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs via a brand new Blu-ray (1080p) HD presentation and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 4K restoration from the original film elements by Arrow Films
Original 1.0 stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Limited edition booklet with new writing on the film by Philip Kemp and original reviews
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Two presentations of 'The Far Country' in both original aspect ratios of 1.85:1 and 2.00:1
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1
New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
American Frontiers: Anthony Mann at Universal, an all-new, feature-length documentary with Mann biographer Alan K. Rode, western author C. Courtney Joyner, script supervisor Michael Preece, and critics Michael Schlesinger and Rob Word
Mann of the West, a newly filmed appraisal of Far Country and the westerns of Anthony Mann by the critic Kim Newman
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film in the alternate original aspect ratio of 2.00:1
'The Far Country' Original Movie Trailer