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June 8, 2010

DVD of the Week – Stagecoach (1939)

by HELEN GEIB

The most exciting DVD news of recent weeks is Criterion’s release of John Ford’s masterwork Stagecoach, also available on Blu-ray. The best part is the new, restored high-definition transfer. (Stagecoach has been available on DVD for some years, but only in a merely adequate transfer that didn’t do justice to the direction and cinematography.) As expected from Criterion, the release is also loaded with special features, including an entire bonus film: Ford’s silent feature Bucking Broadway (1917), with a new score by Donald Sosin.

The features include a new audio commentary track by genre expert Jim Kitses, a video essay by critic Tag Gallagher on Ford’s visual style, and a video “appreciation” of Stagecoach with director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich. Ford himself appears in a 1968 video interview and his grandson, Dan Ford in an interview about the director and his home movies. Other short features are on stuntman Yakima Canutt and Harry Goulding, a trader who played a key role in introducing Monument Valley to Hollywood. Also included are the theatrical trailer and a 1949 Screen Director’s Playhouse dramatization of Stagecoach with stars John Wayne and Claire Trevor. Finally, the DVD comes with a booklet with an essay by David Cairns and “Stage to Lordsburg,” the Ernest Haycox short story on which the film was based.

New releases this week: From Paris With Love, Shutter Island


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