Blu-ray Review: Two Rode Together - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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A lesser-known but nonetheless worthwhile Western directed by John Ford, Two Rode Together arrives on Blu-ray from Twilight Time. The limited edition release (only 3,000 copies pressed) offers a technically excellent presentation that should please fans of Ford, star James Stewart, or of Westerns in general. The 1961 release stars Stewart as layabout lawman Marshal Guthrie McCabe. Content to mostly knock around his sleepy town, skimming a tidy ten percent off all the local businesses, McCabe is called upon to assist in recovering a group of people kidnapped by the Comanches.

Initially McCabe doesn’t even know why his old friend, Lieutenant Jim Gary (Richard Widmark), has visited him. Any chance to get away from his nagging love interest Belle (Annelle Hayes) is reason enough, though he initially balks when Major Frazer (John McIntire) reveals the details of the proposed mission. These people they’re after have been living with the Comanches for years and McCabe is convinced they’re beyond saving. But, being a man of loose ethical standards, he’s swayed by the promise of a big payday.

Two Rode Together cover (215x280).jpgWhen McCabe and Gary eventually meet with Chief Quanah Parker (Henry Brandon), the captives they meet are wildly varied in their level of desire to return to the white world. After years of living as Comanches, some are content to remain part of the tribe. Others, like Elena de la Madriaga (Linda Cristal) are caught between two societies, rejected by the white settlers who regard her as “damaged goods” for having been forced to marry Parker’s adversary Stone Calf (Woody Strode). At the most tragic extreme, Running Wolf (David Kent) is unable to tolerate whites and proves to be a volatile presence among his rescuers.

Moments of rather shocking violence are somewhat undercut by the interjection of forced humorous touches. Reportedly a troubled production (and one that was essentially disavowed by Ford himself), Two Rode Together has a makeweight feel, as if no one was really investing more than a minimal effort. But that very casualness also lends a distinctive atmosphere to the film, which ultimately offers quite a compelling yarn. The chemistry between Stewart and Widmark is reason enough to invest the time, as is the simple fact that this represents the first of four team-ups between Stewart and Ford.

Two Rode Together poster (380x285).jpgThe cinematography by Charles Lawton, Jr. is presented cleanly in this 1080p transfer. Outdoor shots occasionally come off a touch soft and shopworn, but for the most part this is a visual pleasure. Two Rode Together isn’t the most vibrantly colorful film to begin with, yet the palette still manages to look rich and varied. As for audio, we’re treated to a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track that does nothing more than what’s needed. The dialogue is utterly crisp and George Duning’s score is well integrated.

Speaking of Duning’s music, the score is offered as an isolated DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. This is a standard offering on Twilight Time’s releases and it’s pretty much the only special feature included. The film’s original theatrical trailer is also here. Another standard component of TT’s releases is the insightful booklet essay by Julie Kirgo and she’s contributes another good one here.

For ordering information on Two Rode Together, while supplies last, visit Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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