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The Long Gray Line
SPECIFICATIONS
  • English PCM Mono
  • English DTS-HD 3.0 Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary with film historians Diana Drumm, Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme
  • Living and Dead (2020): a new video essay by Tag Gallagher, author of John Ford: The Man and His Films
  • Leonard Maltin on ĎThe Long Gray Lineí (2014): archival appreciation by the film critic and historian
  • The Red, White and Blue Line (1955): rare promotional film, featuring the principal cast of The Long Gray Line
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
  • Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Nick Pinkerton, archival interviews with John Ford, Maureen O'Hara on The Long Gray Line, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Anthony Nield on The Red, White and Blue Line, and film credits

The Long Gray Line

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: John Ford
1955 | 138 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £49.95 | Series: Indicator | Edition: #173


Release Date: April 27, 2020
Review Date: May 24, 2020

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amazon.co.uk

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SYNOPSIS

The Long Gray Line is a Ford military picture with a difference, focusing its attentions away from the battlefield and onto the fifty-year career of an Irish immigrant who rises through the ranks at West Point.


PICTURE

John Fordís The Long Gray Line, the second film in Indicatorís John Ford at Columbia box set, is presented on a dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 2.55:1 The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a new 4K restoration conducted by Sony.

The final presentation is absolutely gorgeous and a nice surprise. The presentation really pulls off that Technicolor look, nicely rendering the colours (especially reds) without any signs of bleeding or separation. Film grain is rendered sharply and cleanly, keeping a natural look, even during moments where it can look a little heavier (itís possible an alternate source was used for these moments). The hands-off approach in grain management also aids in delivering sharp, crisp detailsóeven finer onesóalmost perfectly, with long shots being just as impressive as close-ups. Every detail found in some of the elaborate interiors, or in a deteriorating row of canons, seem to pop off the screen.

The restoration has also wonderfully cleaned up things and again, I never noted a blemish or issue. The whole thing looks absolutely stunning and is by far the best looking presentation in the whole set. Just a knock-out!

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Indicator provides two audio tracks: a lossless PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack, and a DTS-HD MA 3.0 stereo soundtrack, the latter o f which focuses to the front three speakers. Iíll be honest in that a had a hard time discerning a significant difference between either, but the 3.0 track does seem to present some better panning between the front three, with dialogue primarily focused to the center. That said, both tracks are surprisingly robust with decent range and fidelity. Some dialogue can be flat, but music, various sound effects, and a few louder moments all sound crisp and clean with no distortion. Which track you go with, though, will come down to preference.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Indicator also packs on some great supplements for each title in this box set, and The Long Gray Line starts things off with a wonderfully fun, energetic, and informative audio commentary featuring Glenn Kenny, Farran Smith Nehme, and Diana Drumm, the latter of whom knew Maureen OíHara, who was a family friend. The three have all been recorded together and theyíre determined to explain why the film is horribly underrated in Fordís filmography, and I have to say they do a fantastic job. There is discussion about this point in Fordís career, his use of CinemaScope (which he hated) in this film, and explain how the structure of the film, which starts out in a rather slapstick fashion before becoming more serious, works in its favour. Nehme also pipes in many times to talk about Tyrone Power and his career, offering a defense for the actor who she feels hasnít been given his due, while Drumm chimes in about OíHara. Kenny makes a lot of references to Tag Gallagherís book on Ford throughout, quotes various notes and details around the filmís production, and even reads some of the unflattering reviews the film received upon its release. There are some little interesting stories from production, and the three interject some funny little asides, like when they talk about the Irish accents in the film and recall some horrible ones in other films (singling out Sean Connery). Itís a great little track and one I highly recommend listening to.

Indicator also provides another video essay from Tag Gallagher, this one entitled Living and Dead, and running 17-minutes. I didnít really care for the one he created for the previous title in the set, The Whole Town is Talking, maybe because I felt he was reaching (or I didnít quite understand what he was getting at), but I was down with this one far more. He recalls a comment made by filmmaker Jean-Marie Straub, who considered The Long Gray Line an experimental film, and here Gallagher aims to back up that claim by looking at how Ford handles the widescreen compositions that were forced on him by the studio, how he links incidents through the film and the memories created, and how the passing of time can be presented. It has a few odd little segues but in the end it seems to all come together.

Indicator also digs up another TCM interview with Leonard Maltin who offers his own impressions of the film for 6-minutes. You get the idea that he didnít care for the film initially but his view changed when he recently revisited it. It doesnít add a lot (I thought his interview around The Whole Town is Talking had more meat to it) but thatís made up for with the rather fascinating 10-minute government film The Red, White and Blue Line, which utilizes both used and unused footage from The Long Gray Line for whatever odd reason before having its actors step in to promote government savings bonds and how one should invest in them by filling out a form to have it deducted directly from your payroll. Itís such an odd bit of propaganda and I love that it was dug up for this release. And while it is presented in high-definition it has not been restored, with it looking like the yellows have faded out, and the cyans are starting to.

Indicator then closes the disc off with the filmís lengthy theatrical trailer and a small image gallery presenting some production photos and poster art. Indicator also includes a booklet, starting things off with an essay on the film by Nick Pinkerton. This is then followed by an excerpt from Maureen OíHaraís autobiography, where she recounts filming The Long Gray Line and how horribly Ford treated her during that production. Thereís also a reprint or a pretty great interview with Ford conducted by Jean Mitry in 1955, and as usual with Indicatorís booklets we also get a collection of excerpts from reviews for the film, though only a couple: thereís one from Bosley Crowther, who found the material to be incredibly weak for Ford, and another from Andrew Sarris, who addresses accusations that the film was just a propaganda film, while also offering a defense of Tyrone Power. Anthony Nield then provides some information on The Red, White and Blue Line.

In all itís another well-rounded edition from Indicator, looking at the film from a number of good perspectives, with the audio commentary being its strongest addition.

8/10

CLOSING

By far the best-looking film in the set, it also comes with an engaging set of features, including a fascinating propaganda film and a wonderful audio commentary. Just another strong selling point for Indicatorís rather fascinating box set.




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