The Naked Spur on Blu-ray

This is an especially pleasing piece of news and one I’m delighted to pass on. Anthony Mann’s movies with James Stewart rate as some of the finest works in the canon of classic Hollywood westerns. The Naked Spur has been available on DVD for a good many years but always looked a bit indifferent, and it’s a movie which doesn’t deserve to be described in such lackluster terms. Fortunately, and after what feels like a very long wait, it has been announced that the Warner Archive is bringing this important film out on Blu-ray on September 21. It’s a movie I have the highest regard for and I look forward to seeing it looking its best.

I wrote a piece on this film many years ago, which can be found here.

31 thoughts on “The Naked Spur on Blu-ray

      • It’s not just Mann’s westerns. He also made what is arguably the most satisfying of all costume epics, EL CID. And one of the most interesting spy films of the 60s, the criminally underrated A DANDY IN ASPIC.

        Of course there is the question of how much of A DANDY IN ASPIC was directed by Mann and how much was directed by Laurence Harvey after Mann’s death. Either way it’s a film I’m very fond of.

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        • I concur on the breadth of Mann’s mastery. His noirs, westerns and the later epics are all important works. I admire El Cid very much too as it happens, but I still prefer The Fall of the Roman Empire. That movie has majesty, splendor, sweep and intelligence in spades, I think it’s a wonderful piece of work and nowhere near as lauded as it ought to be.

          Unfortunately, I can’t share your enthusiasm for A Dandy in Aspic, sadly. I wrote about it way back in 2008 – my largely negative review of it can be found here – and I haven’t felt the urge to visit it again since.

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  1. Off Topic
    I just read that actor Alex Cord passed on August 9th. While never a big star by any means,
    i recall him as a 2nd or 3rd lead guest star in many tv series during the 60’s and 70s. He had roles in ROUTE 66, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, AIRWOLF, FANTASY ISLAND etc.
    Gord

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  2. I think that “El Cid” and “The Fall of the Roman Empire” are both glorious films. Among other things, Mann really pushes the envelope in setting up and filming risk-taking scenes. The jousting scene in “El Cid” is marked by an athletic ferocity unequaled in film and the chariot sequence in “Fall of the Roman Empire” is spectacular to behold. Dare I commit a sacrilege and say that it rivals the chariot race in “Ben Hur”? I hope you would consider doing a review of “The Fall of the Roman Empire”. This splendid film needs to be brought into the light!

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  3. Films for the weekend are…
    1- With all the talk of Anthony Mann I decided to dig out my copy of, THE TIN STAR. For some reason this one always fails to get mentioned when Mann’s dusters are talked about. I quite like this Henry Fonda, Tony Perkins, Betsy Palmer, Neville Brand ,and Lee Van Cleef film. No John Alton but Loyal Griggs turns in his usual fine work as director of photography. A top duster.

    2- Next up is the superb 1990 Stephen Frears directed, THE GRIFTERS. Based on the great Jim Thompson novel this one follows a bunch of con men and women (grifters) as they are all out to get the next big score. It features a great cast with John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening, J.T. Walsh and Pat Hingle. First rate entertainment.

    3- Last but by no means least, is 1939’s ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS. This Howard Hawks film stars Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, John Carroll and Noah Beery Jr. An excellent adventure film about pilots in South America. One of my fav Hawks films.

    Gord

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    • Gordon,

      I think “The Tin Star” is an excellent Western. I can’t believe that “The Grifters” was made 30 years ago. I watch so many movies made before 1960, that 1990 seems like yesterday! I never saw “Only Angels Have Wings” but will have to add it to the viewing list. Did any actor ever appear in as many significant films in one year as Thomas Mitchell did? In 1939 he was in “Stagecoach”, “Gone With the Wind”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, and “Only Angels Have Wings”. Except for Hawks’ film, I’ve seen them all several times and thoroughly enjoyed them.

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      • I wasn’t entirely convinced by The Tin Star when I viewed it last, and said so here, but I think I should perhaps revisit it again.

        The Grifters is slick, bleak and absorbing. None of the characters come out of it well and the ending is a real kick in the guts – a fine neo-noir.

        Only Angels Have Wings is a super example of Hawks seemingly effortless mastery of the art of moviemaking. It’s peppered with his motifs and his characteristic band of tightly knit professionals are a pleasure to spend time with.

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        • Colin
          THE TIN STAR works for me all the way through. But as we both say, what a dull world it would be if we all liked everything the same. A shame that more folks have never seen, THE GRIFTERS. What a superbly made film from the direction, story, the acting and the look of the film. I Love it.

          Gord, .

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        • Hi Colin RE……..The Tin Star

          Revisiting this film no less than a half-a-dozen times……..three times just this past week. This film just gnaws at me…..always has. For the most part, I like it very much. The production values of what goes on behind the camera are top notch……the direction, the camera work, the music and especially the sound recording. The story, screenwriting and dialogue for the most part are excellent, especially when it comes to the character played by Fonda. Where I continue to take issue is the character played by Perkins and the onscreen persona of Perkins himself…….for me it just wasn’t a proper fit. Maybe someone with a little more grit and little less juvenile would have worked better for me. Someone like a Jeffrey Hunter would have complimented better with Fonda. Unfortunately, Hunter was already 31-years old. The departing final scene ended in a thump, which in no way elevated Perkins and his character…….here I feel the screenplay failed us. It was as if the character of Perkins hadn’t matured one bit since the movie’s opening sequel.

          Colin……your review of this movie is spot on……..in every aspect. Amazing to me it took nearly 2-1/2 years until anyone commented on your review.

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          • Cheers. I’d really need to look at this again to see whether my feelings have changed any in the interim. Of course, all I can do is offer my own impressions.
            Somebody may have commented on that piece when it was first published on the old, now defunct, site.

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    • grifters is fascinating. benning really is a highlight. part of her sexy but cold character trilogy of valmont,grifters, and bugsy. super actress! chris

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  4. Frank
    Mitchell was one of the greatest actors ever. He never seemed to take a wrong step in any film he was in.. ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS is a must see in my humble opinion. Seedy location, plenty of action, some romance and high adventure all mixed together. A keeper all the way around. Yes, 30 years for THE GRIFTERS. Seems like just the other day I saw it in the cinema!

    Gord

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  5. RIP
    Japanese action star, Sonny Chiba, has passed at age 82 on Thursday. He appeared in over 200 films and television series.. KILL BILL might be his best known role for most. During my high school days the local theater would have a kung-fu type triple bill once a month with lots of Sonny Chiba films. We loved the fact the dubbing seemed to have little to do with what was happening on the screen. Lots of violence is what we wanted, and got.

    Gord

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  6. Just finished the 3rd of my weekend trio, THE GRIFTERS. Like Colin said, that ending is a real kick in the guts. Easy to see why Miss Huston got an Oscar nomination for her work here.

    Gordon

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