Sierra (1950) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Sep-2019

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1950
Running Time 82:22
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alfred E. Green
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Wanda Hendrix
Audie Murphy
Burl Ives
Dean Jagger
Richard Rober
Elliott Reid
Tony Curtis
Case ?
RPI ? Music Walter Scharf


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, a pipe
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Ring Hassard (Audie Murphy) and his father Jeff (Dean Jagger) live as outcasts in a shack hidden high in the Sierra Mountains, rejecting all contact with the outer world. This changes when Ring discovers Riley Martin (Wanda Hendrix), a female lawyer, lost in the mountains. When Jeff is badly injured while trying to break-in a horse, they ask for help from Lonesome (Burl Ives), another recluse in the mountains but he tells Ring they need a doctor. Ring takes Riley back down the mountains to the town, taking with them a string of horses he hopes to sell to pay for a doctor, but on the way she is bitten by a snake and Ring has to race her into town to save her. When he returns he discovers that his horses have been taken by Big Matt Rango (Richard Rober) and the Sheriff declines to help Ring get them back. In the town Ring finds that his father is still wanted for a murder committed 12 years previously; indeed, Ring is also treated with suspicion, especially by Riley’s fiancé Duke (Elliott Reid). Ring tries to get his horses back from Rango’s ranch but is captured and tried as a horse thief despite all Riley’s attempts to intercede on his behalf. Broken out of gaol by Lonesome, Ring returns to the high Sierras a wanted man. Can Riley discover the truth behind Jeff’s conviction for murder before both Ring and Jeff are hunted down and hanged?

     Sierra, released in 1950, was by all accounts a troubled production. Filming on location in Utah, four horses were killed in a stampede sequence, a flash flood hit the set, Hendrix had a broken foot and Murphy was still suffering nightmares and PTSD as a result of his war service. But this probably pales to insignificance compared to the relationship between Murphy and Hendrix. They had been married in February 1949 but their turbulent relationship ended just over a year later in divorce; indeed Hendrix left the marriage the day after principle photography on Sierra ended on 3 October, 1949.

     In spite of all the dramas Sierra is a fun, entertaining western with a good cast and beautiful visuals. The film was directed by veteran Alfred E. Green who had been making features since 1917 including Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) with Mary Pickford and he was a nominee at Cannes in 1947 for The Jolson Story (1946). The rather naïve, taciturn character of Ring, well played by decorated war hero Murphy, shows that he is developing some acting chops although in this film he did not get top billing; that went to Wanda Hendrix. He was, however, supported by a strong cast. Burl Ives has fun as Lonesome and gets to sing a few songs while Dean Jagger, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for Twelve O’Clock High (1949), is strong. Also in the cast are a very young Tony Curtis as well as James Arness who rose to fame in the long running Gunsmoke. Shot in Technicolor by DP Russell Metty, Oscar winner for Spartacus (1960), the canyons, ravines and pastures of Utah, standing in for the High Sierras, look stunning.

     Sierra does not have a lot of action; instead it is more of a drama as Ring, helped by a feisty Riley, fights to clear his father’s name from a murder committed a decade previously. All in all Sierra is a quaint and rather old fashioned western in which we get a singing Burl Ives, some humour, a stampede of the Mustangs and some Utah locations that look spectacular in Technicolor.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Sierra is presented in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC. Rather unusually it is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very impressive presentation of a film that is almost 70 years old. There are a couple of colour splotches, tiny marks and a bit of blur with motion but this Technicolor film has beautiful rich colours and strong detail. The night scenes were filmed day for night and have solid blacks and good shadow detail. Contrast and brightness is consistent, skin tones natural.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     Dialogue is clear. The horses’ hooves during the roundup of the Mustangs and the stampede were quite decent for a mono audio. Gunshots were also good. The music is by Walter Scharf. In his career he was nominated for Oscars 10 times, the first for Mercy Island (1942), another much later was for Funny Girl (1969), so while it was not that memorable the music for Sierra was less generic than most westerns of the period.

     Other than slight hiss with the opening titles the audio is fine.

    Lip synchronisation is good.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Nothing. The silent menu offers only “Play” as an option.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The only standalone release of Sierra listed is from France. The only other listing is as part of the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection, which itself is part of this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. See the summary section below.

Summary

     Sierra is an entertaining western with a good cast including Audie Murphy, Dean Jagger, Wada Hendrix, Burl Ives and a very young Tony Curtis. The Technicolor visuals are beautiful.

     The video is very good, the audio acceptable. There are no extras.

     Sierra is included in the 14 disc / 14 film set Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. The 14 movies, made by Murphy between 1950 and 1966, are all westerns except for the army comedy Joe Butterfly. The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is made up from the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection and the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II. Both of these individual Man of the West Collections have been released previously. But if you are a fan of westerns or a fan of Audie Murphy, and don’t have those two earlier collections, this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is a good buy.

     The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, October 07, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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