Monday, April 09, 2012

New on DVD: Westward the Women (1951)

There's some absolutely terrific DVD news to share this evening: William Wellman's outstanding Western WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951) will be released by the Warner Archive tomorrow, April 10th.

And the news gets even better: the Archive DVD includes a commentary track by film historian Scott Eyman, along with the "making of" documentary short CHALLENGE THE WILDERNESS (1951).

I'm told by an Archive rep that Eyman recorded the documentary back in 2008, just before the classic film DVD market radically changed. It's absolutely wonderful that they're able to use it with this release!

WESTWARD THE WOMEN has previously only been available on VHS. It's a superb Western with a tough attitude one might not expect, given the title. It's my favorite performance by Robert Taylor. The scene where he unflinchingly metes out trail justice blows me away each time I see it.

Some spot-on quotes from the Archive press release: "We are more than pleased to bring you the DVD debut of one of William Wellman’s best and most overlooked films...the film’s rugged authenticity of setting and actors shine on the screen. Western great Robert Taylor is at his gritty, hardest best..."

Here's an advance peek at the DVD menu. I'll be posting the direct link to the Archive page when it goes live. (Update: Here's the link! The movie is initially selling at a discounted price of $17.95.)

I couldn't wait to share the great news with Toby, who's already got a post up at 50 Westerns from the 50s, along with a terrific location still.

For more on the film, visit Toby's post from 2010, check out Cliff's 2010 post at Immortal Ephemera, and then stop by and read Colin's take at Riding the High Country.

Then, later this week, head over to the Archive and buy it! You'll be glad you did.

There are some other good movies coming from the Archive, including I'LL WAIT FOR YOU (1941), with Marsha Hunt and Robert Sterling in a very good remake of HIDE-OUT (1934); THREE LOVES HAS NANCY (1938), a truly delightful comedy starring Robert Montgomery, Janet Gaynor, and Franchot Tone; and DESPERATE SEARCH (1952) with Howard Keel and Jane Greer.


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Just to support everything you said. I posted at 50 Westerns... too but he said you brought this to his attention.

I already knew this movie was one of those at the top of your list. Me too--needless to say, I gave it glowing attention (though much briefer than I would have liked) in my piece "Saloon Girls and Ranchers' Daughters: The Woman in the Western" in THE WESTERN READER.

In the final sequence, when they go into the dance and the music starts (no score for most of the film after the opening), that's one of the sublime moments in all cinema.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Blake, just saw your comment at 50 Westerns and was impressed by how highly you rank WESTWARD THE WOMEN among Wellman's films. High praise indeed! I'm so glad this film is receiving the recognition it deserves. It's the rare film that I simply didn't want to end; I wanted to know what happened to the characters next!

Regarding that dance scene -- one of the things that really touched me was when the girl with the baby is asked to dance. That storyline, subtle though it was, was pretty daring for 1951. That was one of the story threads I would have liked to follow past "The End."

I would love to be able to read more of your thoughts on WESTWARD THE WOMEN. Is it available anywhere!

Thanks and best wishes,

12:44 AM  
Blogger Cliff Aliperti said...

Nice to see some extras on a Warner Archives disc--this could make things very interesting going forward!

Also happy to see Three Loves Has Nancy get a release, I'll definitely second your "truly delightful" there!

9:08 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Laura, I've been meaning to write to see if you are going to SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE on the film noir series. That's the one I'm going to and highly recommend, but it sounded like it wasn't on your list.

If you are, I was going to copy the MARGIE piece and maybe I could do something about my "Saloon Girls
and Ranchers' Daughters piece..." too. I will sometime, because I sense you'd enjoy that piece and know many of the movies I talk about in it. THE WESTERN READER is still available but I don't expect you buy everything that's out there.

SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE is a definite for me, and will just stay for the first film and Julie Adams discussion if she turns up
(her role in the film is not so great--just Richard Egan's girlfriend--though of course she's fine in it), not needing to see the second movie again.

If that doesn't work, still looking forward to meeting you sometime at some movie.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to hear from another fan of THREE LOVES HAS NANCY, Cliff! And I'm so glad to know about your WTW post, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Have added a link and hope more people will enjoy it too!

Best wishes,

10:35 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Blake!

Thanks so much, I'd really love to read those -- if not this month, then definitely some other time when it's convenient.

SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE is up in the air for me at this juncture. I'd definitely like to see it but ranked it relatively low on my wish list since I'm not particularly interested in the bottom half of the double bill at this juncture, and I had the good fortune to meet Julie Adams and hear her speak in October. Setting priorities for the festival is hard!

I will definitely be there on Friday and Sunday evenings the first two weekends, and I intend to buy tickets for the final Sunday as well. I may well be adding other films to my list once the festival is underway, depending on my workload and our family's schedule. I will definitely mention it here if I decide to attend SLAUGHTER!

Best wishes,

10:44 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Hi Laura! How are you- I hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter! And thanks for this notice! I am headed to the Archive to make yet another purchase! Tsk, tsk. I had thought I had done enough damage during the epic sale this past week, but this seals the deal. And Three Loves has Nancy may be on the short list.
By the way, Encore westerns recently ran a special on Sam Peckinpah (your mention of Ride the High Country reminded me) that was rather well done- saw it last night. Which then put me in the mood to break out the excellent Randolph Scott Westerns Warner Archive Box set. Sure it's 5 of Scott's Archive titles thrown together for the box, but it's cheaper than separate, and the Epic Sale knocked more off the price.

One more thing- Amazon currently has the Warner Brother's Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy Box set, The Definitive Collection, from last year at a steal price: 25 bucks- down from 60. If you don't have the films, very much worth it.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

J.C., it's fantastic to hear from you! We had a wonderful holiday and hope you did too. :) :)

So glad I could share the great news about the WESTWARD THE WOMEN release. I most often make my purchases during Archive sales, but I headed over there this afternoon to immediately order this great release. I am so looking forward to hearing Scott Eyman's commentary, especially as I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Egyptian Theatre a few months ago.

That Randolph Scott set is something I'd definitely like to get one day in the future. I got a great deal on the (non-Archive) Scott/Boetticher set a few months ago and need to start digging into that one, in the meantime. So many movies, so little time...LOL.

Tips on set sales are always welcome, I'll have to take a look at that one. Thanks!

So glad to see you here, please come back soon -- you are missed!

Best wishes,

5:36 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Laura, must agree 'Westward the Women' is a great Western from Wellman, who is one of my favourite directors - it has been out for a while on DVD in region 2, but only in France. I saw the film recently and hope to watch it again soon, as I usually find his films are worth watching two or three times to pick up all the things I missed first time round!

2:40 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Westward the Women is such a great movie - it should have been released in the US long ago. Blake's singling out of the climactic scene is something I'd also agree on. Both the absence of music before that point and the actual piece chosen add great power.

BTW, thanks for linking to my piece on the movie.

3:19 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Woo! I'm really looking forward to finally seeing this one!

2:36 PM  

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