Blu-ray Review: The Man from Laramie - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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The Man from Laramie is a sturdy Western from 1955, directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart. Specialty label Twilight Time adds this dusty jewel to their limited edition Blu-ray series (with a total of 3,000 made available), presenting the film in its original aspect ratio (2.55:1) for the first time on a home video release. The high definition, 4K transfer was struck from the original camera negative and it looks beautiful. Charles Lang’s cinematography captures the stark beauty of the New Mexico landscape and the new Blu-ray allows us to soak it in, packing in a high degree of fine detail.

Will Lockhart (James Stewart) rides into the town of Coronado, accompanied by an aged assistant, Charley O’Leary (Wallace Ford), from Laramie. The ostensible purpose of his visit is to deliver supplies, but Lockhart has ulterior motives. The Waggoman family owns the vast expanse upon which Coronado sits. It was on this land that Lockhart’s brother was felled by Apaches. He’s looking for the individual responsible for selling repeating rifles to the Apaches. And he wants revenge, no matter the cost.

Man from Laramie cover (214x280).jpgStewart applies his usual, reliable likeability to Lockhart, though here he’s infused with an extra layer of drive and passion. How can we not root for Lockhart once Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol) burns his wagons and executes his mules, all for helping himself to some apparently unclaimed raw salt. It was town shopkeeper Barbara (Cathy O’Donnell) who told Lockhart to scoop up the salt after he delivered the supplies. Barbara is a niece of the town bigwig Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp). Hothead Dave is Alec’s biological son, but Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy) is the more outwardly reasonable man who, while technically unrelated, considers himself worthy of succeeding Alec. Nearly blind, Alec is primed for retirement, or possibly something more permanent.

The Man from Laramie presents a soap opera’s worth of plot threads, but director Mann (working from a screenplay by Philip Yordan and Frank Burt) keeps everything straightforward and easy to follow. There’s a surprising amount of depth infused in the characters. George Duning’s score, available here as a DTS-HD MA 2.0 isolated track, is tasteful (even if the title theme, specifically, isn’t). Though Cathy O’Donnell doesn’t leave much of an impression in the key role of Barbara Waggoman, the primary men in the cast definitely do.

In addition to the aforementioned excellent high definition visual presentation, the soundtrack has been expanded as a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. It’s generally conservative in terms of surround effects, but this is pretty much flawless audio to complement the image. Aside from the isolated score track and Julie Kirgo’s booklet essay, all we have in terms of supplements is a pair of theatrical trailers. For ordering information, while supplies last, visit Twilight Time’s exclusive distributor Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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