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  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
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Winchester 73
Universal/Universal . R4 . B&W . 89 mins . G . PAL

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This is a terrific Western; the first in a series of five movies which stamped Jimmy Stewart as one of the finest actors in this genre.

Jimmy plays Lin McAdam, a slim, strung-out Westerner who rides into Dodge City with his sidekick Frankie (Millard Mitchell) in search of his sworn enemy Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally). This world's too small for both of them. Lin wants to ensure Dutch is the one who leaves by the nearest exit.

The first thing Lin does is pick a fight with a stranger, but he hastily backs down and surrenders his firearms when he finds out that the stranger is in fact legendary town marshall Wyatt Earp - played in a folksy, humorous way by Will Geer.

And Lin meets local pianist and good-time gal Lola Manners, played in an endearing heart-of-gold style performance by Shelley Winters. She figures significantly later in the story. Lin may get his man, but we're pretty sure Lola will as well.

But just who is Dutch Henry Brown? What's the secret which binds these two enemies? The tale is a string of cliches, but they're woven together exceedingly well, and this stylish Western does come over as one of the better examples of the genre.

Watch for some great vignette performances, along with one which is really on the nose.

On the nose is Tony Curtis, as he plays a young Union trooper; he looks like a spoilt and petulant Brooklyn kid just plucked from the slums. And he probably was.

But right up there as a quality vignette is John McIntire as Loe Lamont, a crooked Indian gun-trader and gambler, who deserves the special haircut which comes his way - no back or sides. And watch for the very handsome actor who plays the role of Indian chief Young Bull - I won't mention his name here; see if you can pick him before the end-credits roll.

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This is a fine tranfer of a black and white movie now more than half a century old. The tonal range of blacks and greys are accurate and sharp and really convey the Old West as if in a series of vintage photographs.

Sound is adequate. It's dated, but not harsh or distorted. There is a theatrical trailer, but the outstanding extra feature is a fine audio commentary by Jimmy Stewart himself. This was recorded towards the end of his life, but Jimmy is full of spirit and gives plenty of anecdotes and insights - it's a fascinating historical document.

I once had the great pleasure of having a long and leisurely lunch with Jimmy Stewart, where we yarned about his career both in and outside of Hollywood - the laconic style and gentle humour I enjoyed in my meeting with this great gentleman comes across almost as well on this audio commentary.


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  •   And I quote...
    "This terrific Western stamped Jimmy Stewart as one of the finest actors in this genre."
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A330
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          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
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