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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • Theatrical trailer
The Big Country
MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 165 mins . G . PAL


Gregory Peck plays retired sea captain James McKay who returns west to marry his fiancee Pat Terril, played by Carroll Backer. However McKayís strong moral stance on things quickly makes him unpopular with the hardened ranchers, and especially with ranch foreman Steve Leech, played by Charlton Heston. Ranch owner Major Henry Terrill, played by Charles Bickford, is quickly thrown into a ruthless battle for watering rights. McKay is of course thrown into the middle of this and as his planned marriage is called off, and another land holder Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons) is kidnapped, it is up to him to stop a bloodbath from occuring between the rival ranchers.

Overall this is a great western and truly deserves the label of a Ďclassicí. All the stars put in fantastic performances and the storyline is as solid as a rock. Iíve always been a fan of a good western, and this one certainly fits the bill.


The video transfer has come up looking amazingly sharp, probably too sharp actually, as Iíll explain later. Considering the age of this movie (made in 1958) the sharpness and clarity of the picture has been transferred fantastically. The colours look reasonably well. Being a western there are a lot of dull colours, but the deep blue skies look great and any other bright colours appear vibrant and crisp.

Now its time for the negatives, which luckily enough consist of three main problems, film artefacts, aliasing, and even more aliasing. MPEG artefacts arenít a problem what so ever, and the shadow detail is quite reasonable considering this films age. Even the film artefacts, for a film this age, are rare enough to not be a major distraction. It as, as said above, the aliasing that massacres this transfer. The transfer looks great, except for the aliasing, which rears its ugly head in almost every scene. Often it is not too distracting, but in other scenes it is just unbearable. Why it was released like this is beyond me, they must have spent a great deal of time working on this transfer, but just forgetting about the aliasing is nothing but poor form.

The audio however is just your pretty typical Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. There isnít much more that a 5.1 soundtrack could have done for this movie, and with a 448Kb/s bitrate so we canít complain too loudly. The dialogue is clear most of the time, but there are a few snippets that if you really cared you might have to rewind over. There doesnít appear to be any audio sync problems and there are no other obvious problems. Although not a stunning soundtrack it is adequate and does the job quite well, especially considering the age of the film.

The only special feature on this disc is one theatrical trailer. Nothing special, in fact it is quite bland, doesnít paint a fantastic picture for the movie and is rife with film artefacts.

If youíre a fan of westerns than youíll probably enjoy this one, even though it doesnít fall in your typical gun-slinger type category. Performances by Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston make this film quite enjoyable. Even with the aliasing problems this film is worth checking out if youíre a fan of the genre.

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  •   And I quote...
    "Even with the aliasing problems this film is worth checking out if youíre a fan of the genre. "
    - Nathan Clark
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-636
    • TV:
          LG 80cm
    • Speakers:
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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