Wagon Master appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer gave us a largely good reproduction of the film.
Sharpness appeared nicely tight and distinctive most of the time. A smidgen of softness occurred, though those concerns never became problematic, as the definition was fine most of the time.
No issues with shimmering or jagged edges occurred. Edge haloes remained absent, and the image lacked print flaws.
Contrast was usually strong, as the movie maintained a nice silver tone, though a few shots looked a little overblown. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows were smooth and well-defined. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.
The movieís DTS-HD MA monaural audio felt more erratic. Speech seemed intelligible and moderately natural, though some edginess appeared at times.
Effects were modest but they showed reasonable clarity and accuracy within the confines of 69-year-old stems. Some distortion cropped up at times, however.
Music ran into problems, mainly via songs, as those tended to come across as rough and shrill. This was an adequate auditory presentation for an older movie but not a terribly good one.
Only one extra shows up here: an audio commentary with actor Harry Carey Jr. and filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Some excerpts from a 1966 interview between Bogdanovich and director John Ford also appear.
The 1966 clips donít tell us much about Master, as they tend to look at Fordís career and filmmaking thoughts in general. We get some good material, though the poor quality of the recordings makes the comments a little tough to understand.
Carey and Bogdanovich sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of the movie. They touch on production observations as well as thoughts about the cast and crew.
When Bogdanovich discusses the films of other directors, he tends to be a bore. Paired with Carey, he fares better, mainly because he defers to the actor and doesnít say a whole lot. Thankfully Bogdanovich doesnít offer his usual insufferable impersonation of Ford Ė I suspect he felt too sheepish to do so in Careyís presence.
This makes the commentary more engaging than other Bogdanovich chats, but it doesnít bring a lot of useful information. While Carey occasionally throws out a good nugget, much of the discussion just praises the film. This becomes a passable track but not a particularly good one.
Even with the legendary John Ford at the helm, 1950ís Wagon Master canít develop into a compelling story. It hits on the usual notes and generally fails to bring anything fresh to the table. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture along with erratic audio and a mediocre commentary. Master feels like mediocre Ford.