Saturday, December 11, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Unconquered (1947) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Director Cecil B. DeMille's American frontier epic UNCONQUERED (1947), an engaging tale of 18th century pioneers, is available in a spectacularly good-looking Blu-ray print from Kino Lorber.

UNCONQUERED is one of a few DeMille films Kino Lorber has released on Blu-ray in the last couple of years, including FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE (1934), UNION PACIFIC (1939), and REAP THE WILD WIND (1942), the latter of which also starred Paulette Goddard.

UNCONQUERED arrived around the time I was on a trip to Oregon this past summer, and as other screeners arrived, I was doing quite a bit of "last in, first out" in terms of reviews. I just caught up with it, and my only regret is that I didn't watch it sooner, simply because I enjoyed it so much.

The cast is outstanding, the Technicolor photography by Ray Rennahan is superb, and while the script is sort of a "perils of Pauline" (Paulette?) tale, I found it quite entertaining.

Paulette plays Abby Hale, a British woman (who mysteriously has no British accent) sentenced to indentured servitude in the U.S. colonies after being involved in an incident in which her brother and a soldier both died.

Slimy Garth (Howard da Silva) and honorable Chris Holden travel to the colonies on the same ship with Abby; Garth is determined to have her, but Chris beats Garth's price for Abby in a shipboard auction. Chris then sets Abby free, but is unaware that Garth later finds a way to cancel Abby's freedom and put her right back into servitude.

The paths of Abby, Chris, and Garth will all cross time and again in the Ohio Valley, where Garth plots with the Seneca Indians against the local settlers. Garth has his own problems, however; he wants Abby, but he already has an Indian wife (Katherine DeMille), and she and her brother (Boris Karloff) don't take kindly to Garth's interest in another woman.

Before it's all over there are battles galore, while Paulette's Abby has hair breadth escapes from things such as being burned at the stake or riding a canoe through rapids and over a waterfall.

What the movie lacks from the script by Jesse Lasky Jr., Charles Bennett, and Fredric M. Frank, based on a novel by Neil Swanson, is made up for by the sheer enthusiasm of the incredibly deep cast, an action-packed story, and the movie's stunning visuals. This movie is the very definition of Technicolor "eye candy," especially when it comes to the beautiful Paulette. The movie runs a longish 146 minutes, but my interest never wavered.

Goddard is always an entertaining actress, and her vivacious character is well matched with Cooper's more stoic soldier. I enjoyed their interactions as she tries to figure out what's going on behind his terse words, and the ultimate payoff as they find their way to one another is quite lovely.

As an aside, Goddard fans will want to be on the lookout for Kino Lorber's upcoming 2022 Blu-ray release of SO PROUDLY WE HAIL! (1943), for which the actress received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.

The UNCONQUERED cast is almost mind-blowingly deep; it's the kind of movie where a soldier who asks Abby to dance at a ball is Lloyd Bridges, and Chris's fiancee in a single early scene is played by Virginia Grey. In addition to cast members already mentioned, some of the larger roles are played by Ward Bond, Cecil Kellaway, Mike Mazurki, Victor Varconi, Virginia Campbell, and Henry Wilcoxon, who worked with DeMille on many occasions.

Smaller roles are played by Alan Napier, Sir C. Aubrey Smith, Richard Gaines, Porter Hall, Jane Nigh, Raymond Hatton, Paul E. Burns, Mary Field, Iron Eyes Cody, Jay Silverheels, Jeff Corey, Byron Foulger, Dorothy Adams, Marc Lawrence, Lex Barker, Jeff York, Clarence Muse, Francis Ford, and Ray Teal.

Director DeMille is heard delivering the film's opening narration.

The sound quality of Kino Lorber's Blu-ray is as good as the picture. Disc extras consist of a commentary track by Nick Pinkerton, the trailer, and a collection of 11 additional trailers for films also available from Kino Lorber.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Vienna said...

Is there anything better than a “mind blowingly deep” cast,!

1:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

So true!!!

Best wishes,

7:17 PM  

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