"Warlock" Standard DVD review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 3 Old 06-10-08, 04:15 AM Thread Starter
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Richard W. Haines
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"Warlock" Standard DVD review

I found this at Walmart for a little ovr $5 so I recommend it since it's
not much more than a rental at Blockbuster. Despite the title, it's
actually one of those psychological Westerns from the fifties along
the lines of the original "3:10 to Yuma". It has action but centers
on people messing with each other's heads which I always find
intriquing in any genre.

The plot is a standard one with some surprises and character
nuance to maintain interest. Richard Wydmark and others are
terrorizing a town so they hire Henry Fonda and his partner,
Anthony Quinn to keep the peace. However, things aren't what
they seem and Quinn kills someone whom he dislikes when the
threatening gang makes a robbery and blames it on them.
The town also becomes apprehensive that Fonda is getting too
powerful. Everything comes to a head when surviving gang
members decide to raid the town for a showdown but will the
towns people help or hide? There's a femme fatale hooker
who gets intangled with things too. The film is
suspenseful and I enjoyed the character interplay.

The movie was shot in CinemaScope so it's fairly grainy and
soft if you project it. Hopefully, later Blu-ray releases of
fifties scope films will improve the resolution of pictures
shot with those lenses. As I mentioned in previous posts,
Panavision films transfer very nicely to both Standard and
High Definition DVDs because the anamorphic lenses were
superior in terms of resolution and sharpness. The color
is good on this film (color by DeLuxe) but not as rich as
a Technicolor production. The fleshtones are saturated and the
night photography atmospheric. The CinemaScope opticals
are horrid of course but the duplicate stock in the era was
quite poor and that applies to films processed at other labs
with the exception of Technicolor.

All Fox films were released in four track magnetic stereo in
the fifties. Unfortunately, it looks like they lost the mix to
this movie (or the magnetic fullcoat deteriorated) so it's only
in mono with the signal coming out of left and right speakers.

The action in the movie is good when it does break out. No
squibs yet for the bullet hits but they do show blood coming
out of the wound afterwards. There's even a sadistic scene with
Wydmark getting stabbed with a knife in his gun hand which
was pretty brutal for the era. The reason that there was an
increase in violence, blood and sex in 1955 was because Joseph
Breen, who ran the Production Code, retired and was replaced
by Geoffry Sherlock who was more lenient. Movies continued
to be more graphic under his regime through 1968 when they
abandoned the code completely and replaced it with the ratings
system. The same year this movie was released was also
"Ben Hur" which reached new levels of blood and gore. Even
today the gory death of Messala is disturbing as are the
amputated limbs during the sea battle. It illustrates that the
Production Code was the not monolitic entity so many people
assume and was constantly being changed and modified through
out it's history (1934-1968). If anything, more children saw
controversial material under it than the later ratings system which
restricted attendence based on content.

So if you like these types of psychological Westerns, it's
worth a look at this price.

By the way, I'm getting very sick of the studio logo at the head
of so many DVDs blasting me from all speakers before the menu.
They seem to be at a much higher volume than the movie itself.
The same applies to trailers. Sometimes even the menus are too
loud like "The Invaders" first season. When it comes on it's several
decibles louder than each episode which means you have to ride
the control level on your amp. Very annoying. You should be able
to set the volume of each disc on the movie or show itself and the
menu and logo should be within that range for a comfortable and
distraction free viewing experience.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 06-10-08 at 08:01 AM.
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post #2 of 3 Old 06-11-08, 10:01 PM
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Re: "Warlock" Standard DVD review

Hey Richard, very insightful and as usual, nice review. But, I know that you picked up a copy of (the original) 3:10 to Yuma the other day,..... I'm anxiously awaiting another great review from you.

Have you had a chance to screen it yet?

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post #3 of 3 Old 06-12-08, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Richard W. Haines
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Posts: 792
Re: "Warlock" Standard DVD review


I did screen it and gave a brief review at the end of the "Pat Garrett" post. I thought it
was a good picture like the remake and a bit tighter narrative and more suspenseful since there were fewer subplots. It's interesting to compare the nuances of the villain in the performances of
Glenn Ford and Russell Crowe. Crowe makes him a bit more sympathetic since he has
some artistic abilities. Ford makes him more ruthlessly manipulative and has no redeeming
features other than the fact that he's cast against type and usually plays a mild mannered
easy going character in other movies. In this case the mild manner is a front for a ruthless
killer to put people at ease before he robs or kills them. The ending is different in both movies.
The Crowe version is more fatalistic. They would make a good double bill for those who haven't screened them yet but I would recommend starting with the fifties version first since the Crowe
version is a variation on a theme so to speak.
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