The Comancheros

Overview

Michael Curtiz's The Comancheros will prove something of a disappointment on DVD, at least for those of us who owned or have seen the laserdisc of the movie. The latter, also produced by Fox, contained a very enjoyable and rewarding commentary track by movie co-star Stuart Whitman that is nowhere to be found on this digital disc. The movie itself is transferred well enough here, at least by the standards of the early 21st century, though there are limits to the resolution of both the source print and the transfer...
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Overview

Michael Curtiz's The Comancheros will prove something of a disappointment on DVD, at least for those of us who owned or have seen the laserdisc of the movie. The latter, also produced by Fox, contained a very enjoyable and rewarding commentary track by movie co-star Stuart Whitman that is nowhere to be found on this digital disc. The movie itself is transferred well enough here, at least by the standards of the early 21st century, though there are limits to the resolution of both the source print and the transfer technology. One longs to see how a high-definition transfer, even bumped down to NTSC, would look on this movie; between the expansive outdoor locales and the fact that Curtiz filled just about every corner of the Cinemascope screen with something worth seeing, it will probably be mighty impressive. Until then, we have this more modest effort, proportioned in letterboxed format to fit the 'Scope image (2.35:1), fairly sharp and reasonably crisp, even if the reds bleed a bit and the finest printing on the opening titles blurs slightly. The bonus features include the original American trailer and one in Spanish as well; a brief Fox Movietone newsreel clip of singer Claude King and composer Tillman Franks, who wrote the song "The Comancheros" (which was never used in the movie) accepting an award; and trailers for two other John Wayne movies released by Fox. It's not much of a supplement compared to the laserdisc, but at least the two-layer menu accessing all of it -- which opens automatically on start-up -- is easy to use.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Movietone News: Claude King and Tillman Franks receive award for "The Comancheros"; Theatrical trailer; Spanish trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Wheeler Winston Dixon
The Comancheros is Michael Curtiz's last film as a director; from all accounts, he was weak and ill during the filming, although one would never know it from the finished product, which is skillfully directed and bears the unmistakable stamp of Curtiz's professionalism. John Wayne stepped in to direct some scenes when Curtiz faltered, and Cliff Lyons, an excellent stuntman whose career traced back to the silent era, directed the second-unit action sequences, and certainly these contributions added considerably to the film's final cut. The film boasts a particularly interesting cast; aside from Wayne, stars Stuart Whitman and Lee Marvin, as well as veteran character actors Jack Elam, Henry Daniell, and Richard Devon are on hand to liven up the proceedings. The plot is simplicity itself; Wayne plays Texas Ranger Jake Cutter, a role he could stroll through without breaking a sweat, who arrests itinerant gambler Paul Regret (Whitman) as another routine assignment. But Whitman and Wayne soon find they must pool their resources to defeat a band of renegade arms dealers known as the Comancheros, led by Jack Elam at his slimiest. The Comancheros is a deeply formulaic film, designed to keep Wayne in the public eye and his loyal audience members satisfied. None of it makes much sense, but Curtiz directs in his usual hectic style, so that the incidents pile up so quickly that one soon forgets the absurdity of the film's premise. Interestingly, veteran Western director Budd Boetticher was originally slated to direct this film during a particularly down period in the director's life when he was in jail in Mexico during the production of his film Arruza (which was eventually completed after much hardship in 1972). Astoundingly, Boetticher turned the offer down, preferring to remain in jail rather than tackle what he saw as a mediocre project. Michael Curtiz died shortly after production of the film was completed.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/20/2003
  • UPC: 024543075424
  • Original Release: 1961
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Language: English, Français, Español
  • Time: 1:47:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 12,286

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Wayne Capt. Jake Cutter
Stuart Whitman Paul Regret
Ina Balin Pilar Graile
Nehemiah Persoff Graile
Lee Marvin Tully Crow
Michael Ansara Amelung
Bruce Cabot Maj. Henry
Joan O'Brien Melinda Marshall
Jack Elam Horseface
Edgar Buchanan Judge Thaddeus Jackson Breen
Henry Daniell Gireaux
Richard Devon Estevan
Steve Baylor Comanchero
John Dierkes Bill
Roger Mobley Bub Schofield
Bob Steele Pa Schofield
Luisa Triana Spanish Dancer
Iphigenie Castiglioni Josefina
Aissa Wayne Bessie Marshall
Harry Carey Jr.
Leigh Snowden Hotel Girl
Tom Hennessy Graile's Bodyguard
Patrick Wayne Tobe
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams Ed McBain
George Lewis Iron Shirt
Gregg Palmer Duel opponent
Don Brodie Card dealer
Jon Lormer Elderly man on riverboat
Phil Arnold Nervous man
Alan Carney Bartender
Ralph Volkie Riverboat steward
Dennis Cole
Technical Credits
Michael Curtiz Director
Harold Belfer Choreography
Elmer Bernstein Score Composer
Marjorie Best Costumes/Costume Designer
William H. Clothier Cinematographer
James Edward Grant Screenwriter
Clair Huffaker Screenwriter
Louis Loeffler Editor
Robert Priestley Set Decoration/Design
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
George Sherman Producer
Jack Martin Smith Art Director
Alfred Ybarra Art Director
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The Duet/Main Titles [4:05]
2. Lies and Regrets [7:16]
3. Texas Ranging [2:16]
4. Saved By the Law [6:04]
5. A New Partner [3:35]
6. Games of Chance [1:28]
7. The Old Days [7:53]
8. Unexpected Help [1:55]
9. The One That Got Away [3:07]
10. A Nudge for the Judge [7:15]
11. Undercover Brothers [1:23]
12. Leader of the Pack [6:48]
13. Beautiful Surprise [1:41]
14. An Escape Plan [5:37]
15. Texas' Finest [7:15]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Language Selection
      Languages
         English 4.0 Surround
         Spanish Mono
         French Mono
      Subtitles
         English
         Spanish
   Scene Selection
   Special Features
      Theatrical Trailer
      Spanish Trailer
      Movietone News: Claude King and Tillman Franks Receive Award for "The Comancheros"
      Fox Flix
         North to Alaska
         The Undefeated
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