Blu-ray Review: Cowboy (1958) - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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A relatively young Jack Lemmon stars as real-life writer Frank Harris in director Delmer Daves’ 1958 Western Cowboy. Based on Harris’ 1930 novel/memoir My Reminiscences as a Cowboy, Cowboy arrives on U.S.-based Region A Blu-ray via boutique label Twilight Time. The limited edition release of 3,000 units is currently available while supplies last.

Frank Harris works as a hotel clerk in Chicago, but he dreams of a life with beautiful Maria Vidal (the late Anna Kashfi; briefly Mrs. Marlon Brando, the actress passed away in 2015). The problem is Maria’s old man, big time cattle tycoon Señor Vidal (Donald Randolph). He wants a real cowboy for his daughter and sees to it that the lowly hotel worker is left in the cold.

Enter brash cattle driver Tom Reece (Glenn Ford). After losing a fortune while playing cards, an offer from Frank looks mighty lucrative. Frank’s willing to pony up all the money he has for a shot at driving Tom’s next herd, which happens to belong to none other than Señor Vidal. The romantic notion, of course, is that Frank will wind up within proximity of his true love while also proving himself worthy to the old man. Much of Cowboy’s appeal lies in the hard-earned camaraderie between Frank and Tom. Lemmon and Ford make the most of their roles, ensuring that Cowboy remains a deeply felt piece of work. 

cowboy BD.jpg Shot by veteran cinematographer Charles Lawton, Jr. (fairly late in his career, and his life for that matter), Twilight Time’s Blu-ray presentation of Cowboy is framed at 1.78:1. Though perhaps not as gorgeous as the restoration of Lawton, Jr.’s work on Two Rode Together (also available via Twilight Time), this is a rock solid transfer of a beautifully photographed vintage Western.

The DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack is simple, clean, and free of harshness. Dialogue is very present and well balanced within the generally unambitious sound design. George Duning’s score is presented on a separate DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track (isolated score tracks are a regular feature of Twilight Time releases).

In addition to the isolated score, special features include a new commentary track film historians Paul Seydor, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman. The original theatrical trailer is here, too.

Definitely worthwhile for vintage Western aficionados, Cowboy is available exclusively through Twilight Time. As with all their Limited Edition Series titles, supplies are limited. Visit Screen Archives for ordering information.

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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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