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Anthony Mann
Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Huston, Wendell Corey
Writing Credits:
Charles Schnee

A firebrand heiress clashes with her tyrannical father, a cattle rancher who fancies himself a Napoleon, but their relationship turns ugly only when he finds himself a new woman.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 4/20/2021

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Jim Kitses
• 1967 Interview with Director Anthony Mann
• “Intimate Interviews: Walter Huston”
• Nina Mann Interview
• “Radical Classicism” Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer

• Copy of Original Novel
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Furies: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1950)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 4, 2021)

When I first viewed 1950’s The Furies, I’d recently checked out some of director Anthony Mann’s later work via the 1960s epics El Cid and The Fall of the Roman Empire. This Criterion release of The Furies allowed me to visit the filmmaker’s earlier work in Westerns.

In Furies, we go to 1870s New Mexico. After a trip out west to raise some money, owner TC Jeffords (Walter Huston) returns to his ranch – called “The Furies” – for the wedding of his son Clay (John Bromfield). He grows tired of running the operation, so he leans toward giving control to his daughter Vance (Barbara Stanwyck).

TC has one condition: Vance needs to marry someone of whom he approves. She maintains a lifelong semi-romantic friendship with Juan Herrera (Gilbert Roland), part of a clan who squat on Jeffords’ land, but he wouldn’t be a “suitable mate”.

Enter Rip Darrow (Wendell Corey), member of a family with a long-term spat against TC. Rip shows up at Clay’s wedding, and despite – or maybe due to – TC’s initial anger, Vance takes to him. The film follows their relationship and a mix of complications that follow.

Normally when I go into a Western, I expect the usual cowboy and Indian fare, or at least a flick with rootin’-tootin’ gunfights and all that jazz. Furies offers something different, and that makes it more intriguing than might otherwise have been the case.

For one, it’s unusual to find a Western that concentrates on a female character. That genre tends to be a man’s world, so while Furies isn’t unique in its use of a female protagonist, it certainly is atypical.

This choice to focus on Vance never feels forced. It fits the movie and comes across as a natural, logical focus.

I hate to admit it, but Furies almost veers into soap opera territory much of the time. I dislike that term due to the sappy melodramatic tendencies it implies, but there’s so much interpersonal drama on display here that the soap opera moniker seems to fit. Plot elements remain fairly minimal, as the majority of the flick concentrates on the character drama.

And you know what? It does just fine in that realm.

Furies never degenerates into sudsy silliness, partially because it’s distinctly cynical. For a flick with a mix of love-related threads, it sure doesn’t show much affinity for warmth and romance.

Money and power rule the day, so any fond feelings tend to take a back seat. That gives the movie a toughness it easily could’ve lacked.

An excellent performance from Stanwyck helps, as she takes control of the film. She provides a spirited turn that makes Vance bold and brassy but not a simple caricature.

Stanwyck easily could’ve turned Vance into a mannish cartoon, but she retains the character’s feminine side as well. She feels like someone who could run a ranch but she displays the role’s princess tendencies too.

Not only could The Furies have been a sappy mess, but it probably should have gone that way. I’m pleased to report that it provides an unusual Western – and an unusually interesting one. Packed with character drama and excellent performances, the flick’s a winner.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

The Furies appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Very few issues materialized in this satisfying transfer.

For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. I noticed slight softness in a few shots, as some elements appeared slightly ill-defined. Those instances were exceptions, though, as the majority of the flick was pretty tight and nicely delineated.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering marred the presentation. Edge haloes failed to appear, and the film came with a nice layer of grain.

Source flaws were totally absent. This became a clean image.

Contrast succeeded, blacks were dark and firm, and shadows seemed fairly good. At times some low-light shots could be a little dense – usually due to “day for night” shots - but they were good in general. I felt pleased with this appealing image.

We got a perfectly adequate LPCM monaural soundtrack for The Furies. Like most films of the era, speech sounded somewhat metallic, but the lines always remained easily intelligible, and they lacked notable edginess.

Effects were also thin and without much range, but they seemed fairly concise and didn’t suffer from significant distortion. The score fit in with the rest of the audio, as the music felt reasonably lively. This turned into a more than acceptable mix for a 71-year-old movie.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the Blu-ray from 2008? The lossless audio felt a little more stable and warm, while visuals appeared cleaner, smoother and better defined. This was a nice upgrade.

When we move to the disc’s supplements, we start with an audio commentary from film historian Jim Kitses. He provides a running, screen-specific track that looks at cast, characters and performances, the adaptation of the source novel, director Anthony Mann’s work and career, themes, tone and interpretation.

The latter topics strongly dominate this commentary. Oh, Kitses throws in the occasional filmmaking nugget and gives us a little information about cast and crew, but the vast majority of the chat looks at a view of the movie with a psychological bent.

I suppose this may appeal to some listeners, but in my case, I didn’t much care for it. I enjoy a good examination of a flick’s themes and subtext, but I don’t think Kitses offers a particularly insightful take.

He often refers to “phallic” symbols and grows tedious pretty quickly. It’s not a bad track, but I’d prefer one that better balances filmmaking issues with interpretation.

Three interview clips follow. The first runs 17 minutes, 13 seconds and provides a 1967 interview with director Anthony Mann. He discusses his early career, influences, and some elements of his various movies.

Though a fairly general piece, Mann includes a reasonable number of insights into his work. This becomes an informative discussion.

Intimate Interviews: Walter Huston goes for eight minutes, 57 seconds. The short comes from a series of big-screen interviews that appeared in the 1930s.

That means it has nothing to do with Furies, of course, but it’s a cool historical artifact. Don’t expect much real info, as it’s obviously a staged featurette more than it is an actual interview, but I still like it – especially when Huston hits on the interviewer!

Next a 17-minute, 29-second Nina Mann Interview appears. The director’s daughter chats about the director’s life as well as some aspects of The Furies. At times this degenerates into general praise for Anthony Mann’s career and the film, but Nina Mann offers a decent number of insights.

In addition to the film’s Theatrical Trailer, we find a new feature: Radical Classicism, a circa 2020 chat with critic Imogen Sara Smith. In this 29-minute, 23-second program, she discusses aspects of the film as well as interpretation and allusions to other works. Smith offers a nice view of the flick.

Two non-disc materials appear here. Of course, we get the standard booklet found in virtually all Criterion releases.

This one includes an essay from film professor Robin Wood as well as a 1957 interview with Anthony Mann. This is one of the better Criterion booklets.

Even better, we find a copy of the original novel by author Niven Busch. This isn’t an abridged version, so it provides the entire 1948 text. That makes it a very nice addition to the package.

Not many Westerns feature female protagonists, so that emphasis makes The Furies something different. The flick doesn’t just rely on this gimmick to create interest, as it gives us a solidly crafted and well-acted film that consistently satisfies. The Blu-ray provides very good picture along with acceptable audio and a nice selection of extras that includes the complete novel on which the movie was based. This is a fine film and a solid Blu-ray.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of THE FURIES

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