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THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE ($25) is an exciting movie and a surprising live action gem produced in CinemaScope by the Disney Studios in 1956. Based upon the same real life, Civil War incident that inspired Buster Keaton's masterpiece THE GENERAL, THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE tells the story of Union spies stealing a train on the Western & Atlantic Railroad with the intention destroying track and bridges behind them, as they make their way north. THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE stars Fess Parker as James J. Andrews, the leader of the Union spies, who leads his men into Georgia and steal a train right out from under the noses of 4000 Confederate soldiers.

Jeffrey Hunter delivers an intense performance as William A. Fuller, Andrews' Confederate adversary, who will stop at nothing to retrieve the train and prevent the Union Armyís destruction of the critical railroad system. As the title indicates, THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE features an intense and suspenseful chase along the railroad tracks, as well as several beautiful period trains. The cast of THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE also features Jeff York, John Lupton, Eddie Firestone, Kenneth Tobey, Don Megowan, Claude Jarman Jr., Harry Carey Jr. and Slim Pickens.

THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE is another Disney title that has been licensed for release on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unfortunately, like many licensed Disney titles, the wide screen presentation for THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE has NOT been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The standard Letterboxed presentation does restore the film's 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but the slightly muddied details in the image make it appear as if this isn't the best transfer possible. THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE definitely would have been better served by an anamorphic transfer, which would have eked more detail out of the film elements. Still, the DVD is highly watchable, plus the ability to see THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE in its full wide screen splendor is worth the price of admission. Colors are a bit muted and there are places where the film's contrast appears a bit harsh. A full frame presentation is also included on the other side of the DVD. However, the full frame version isnít really isn't worth anyone's time, when one considers the film's original CinemaScope dimensions. Digital compression artifacts do not adversely affect the image in any way.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is clean and free from distortion. Dialogue is always intelligible and the musical score doesn't seem compromised by frequency limitations.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection feature.

THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE is an entertaining movie that Civil War buffs and train aficionados will want to check out on DVD




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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