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THE TIN STAR

The decade of the 1950’s brought a new maturity to the film western and it was during this period that the genre was transitioning from standard issue horse operas and "B" movie programmers to films with emotional complexity, built around multifaceted characters. Director Anthony Mann’s THE TIN STAR is a fine example of this breed of western that emerged during the 1950s. THE TIN STAR stars Henry Fonda as Morg Hickman, a bounty hunter who finds himself unwelcome in a small western town, where he arrives with a criminal, who was "wanted: dead or alive" strapped to his horse. As it turns out, Morg is a former lawman, whose knowledge and life experiences become invaluable to the town’s greenhorn temporary sheriff, Ben Owens (Anthony Perkins), who is hoping to retain the position on a permanent basis. Unfortunately for Ben, his chief rival for the sheriff’s job is Bart Bogardus (Neville Brand), the town bully, who’d like nothing better than to use the tin star as his own private shooting license.

While Morg remains in town, waiting to collect his bounty, he begins dividing his time between schooling Ben in the fine art of sheriffing, and Nona Mayfield (Betsy Palmer), a pretty widow with a "half-breed" son named Kip (Michel Ray). Although the time Morg spends with Ben begins to pay off for the young sheriff, it is the time that Morg spends with Nona and Kip that comes to remind the world-weary bounty hunter of the life he once had. Eventually, the lessons that Ben learna from Morg are put to the test, when a posse in pursuit of two murderers is incited into a bloodthirsty mob by Bogardus, who is bent on lynching the idealistic sheriff’s two recently captured prisoners. The cast of THE TIN STAR also features John McIntire, Mary Webster, Peter Baldwin, Richard Shannon and Lee Van Cleef.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made THE TIN STAR available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. THE TIN STAR has been given a very nice black and white transfer that produces a very pleasing image. Sharpness and detail are generally quite good, with only an occasional shot appearing slightly less defined. Blacks appear deep and true while the whites are clean and crisp. Grayscale is very good, with the image producing a good deal of nuance and depth. The film elements used for the transfer are in great shape for their age, displaying only minor blemishes and modest amounts of appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts are always well concealed.

For this release, THE TIN STAR has been upgraded to a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Although now being presented in 5.1, the sound mix for THE TIN STAR isn’t overtly directional. Where the 5.1 encoding comes into play is for the enchantment of Elmer Bernstein’s wonderful score. The score is nicely spread through the soundstage, but it maintains the nice subtle qualities of the music. Fidelity does have some limitations, but the music is never harsh, reedy or distorted. Dialogue is crisp and fully understandable. Most instances of background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving a generally smooth character to the sound. A nicely restored version of the original English monaural soundtrack is also provided, as are English subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features. No supplemental materials have been included on the DVD.

THE TIN STAR is indeed a minor western classic and a good example of the new maturity that was working its way into the genre during the 1950s. As for the DVD, Paramount has done a fine job with the film’s presentation. That, along with a low online price make this a disc that western fans and movie buffs will want to add to their collections. Recommended.

 

THE TIN STAR 


The Tin Star (1957)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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