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Andrew V. McLaglen
John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Forrest Tucker, Christopher George
Writing Credits:
Andrew J. Fenady

Cattle baron John Chisum joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war.

Rated G

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French Monaural
German Monaural
Castillian Spanish Monaural
Latin Spanish Monaural
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $14.97
Release Date: 6/7/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Andrew V. McLaglen
• “John Wayne and Chisum” Featurette
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Chisum [Blu-Ray] (1970)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 12, 2016)

Fresh off his sole Oscar victory for 1969’s True Grit, John Wayne starred in another Western via 1970’s Chisum. Set in New Mexico circa the 1870s, John Chisum (Wayne) acts as the major cattle baron/landowner in Lincoln, a town he helped co-found.

Matters in his territory change when Lawrence Murphy (Forrest Tucker) pushes for control of Lincoln. Murphy buys most of the town’s stores, establishes a monopoly and begins to exact dominance over the domain. Along with his sidekick Pepper (Ben Johnson), Billy the Kid (Geoffrey Deuel) and others, Chisum engages in a battle with Murphy that turns into the 1878 Lincoln County War.

Though Wayne would die of cancer only eight years after Chisum’s release, he remained active until pretty close to the end. 1970 also produced Rio Lobo, and Wayne would make eight more films until he retired following 1976’s The Shootist.

While it doesn’t require Wayne to stretch his talents in any way, Chisum finds the legend in fairly good form. He shows spirit and heart and does his best to elevate the material. I won’t call this “vintage Duke”, but Wayne comes across pretty well.

Unfortunately, Wayne does so as part of a mediocre effort. Chisum starts poorly, as its combination of melodramatic theme song and overwrought visuals make the opening credits feel like parody. That part of the film sets the stage for what follows in a problematic manner.

Chisum doesn’t pursue the over the top tone of the credits, but it might go too far in the opposite direction. The film tends to wander a slow, pokey path without much drama or urgency. Despite all the potential fireworks, matters tend to meander and develop without much to interest the viewer.

It doesn’t help that Chisum lacks a strong overall narrative. While the battle between Chisum and Murphy gives the story a theme, much of the tale unfolds in a loose way. Chisum often feels more like a collection of vague subplots than a coherent story, and that trend renders the end result somewhat impotent.

I could also live without the inevitable tacked-on romance. I guess most Westerns felt the need to interject attractive young actors and a little wooing to satisfy the potential female audience, but that doesn’t mean it works. Chisum’s attempts at romance fall flat and become a distraction.

Though those scene would harm the film more if it worked better in other ways. Since Chisum lacks focus and purpose most of the time, the lame love-oriented spots don’t do much damage. They don’t add to a movie that feels bland and forgettable, though. It’s a weak Wayne Western.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus C

Chisum appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, the transfer looked good.

No substantial issues with sharpness emerged. A few wider elements showed some minor softness, but those instances stayed minor. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and no edge enhancement was apparent. Source flaws remained absent, as I noticed no specks, marks or debris.

As befit the western setting, colors looked low-key. They were always as full as the cinematography demanded, though, and they appeared solid. The occasional brighter hues seemed vivid and rich within the normally arid confines.

Blacks were dark and full, while shadows usually came across well. Some “day for night” shots were a little murky, but they didn’t cause substantial problems. This was a consistently strong image.

Though adequate, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack aged less well, largely because it tended to seem a bit harsh. This particularly impacted effects, as they could be a little rough and brittle. I don’t think those elements fared poorly, but I felt they could’ve been smoother.

The same went for music, which showed reasonable reproduction but that could seem too bright. Speech seemed fairly concise and natural, at least, and the track lacked background noise or flaws. The audio seemed average for its age/era.

The Blu-ray includes an audio commentary from director Andrew V. McLaglen. In this running, screen-specific chat, he discusses the film’s origins and pre-production, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and music.

McLaglen delivers a consistently mediocre discussion. While he goes over a decent array of basics, he fails to bring much depth or substance much of the time. This means he often seems to do little more than recite the names of the actors, and this leads to a passable track at best.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a vintage featurette called John Wayne and Chisum. It lasts eight minutes, 55 seconds and mixes narration with shots from the set. We get some background about historical events as well as notes about the production. This tends to be promotional and without much substance.

In one of his final films, John Wayne shows good heart and spirit. Unfortunately, the rest of Chisum lets him down, as it delivers a forgettable Western. The Blu-ray boasts very good visuals as well as mediocre audio and a few supplements. Outside of an engaging performance from its lead actor, Chisum flops

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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