Blu-ray Review: STAGECOACH (1966)

STAGECOACH was directed by Gordon Douglas from a screenplay by Joseph Landon and stars Ann-Margret, Red Buttons, Michael Connors, Alex Cord, Bing Crosby, Bob Cummings, Van Heflin, Slim Pickens, Stefanie Powers and Keenan Wynn. The movie was shot by the great William H. Clothier and features a gorgeous Americana-flavored score by Jerry Goldsmith.

A motley crew of travelers are forced to band together while making a treacherous crossing through American Indian territory in a rickety stagecoach. Along the way, a drunken doctor (Bing Crosby) finds a moment of redemption, a pregnant captain’s wife (Stefanie Powers) discovers the kindness of strangers, a pompous banker (Bob Cummings) gets his comeuppance and a sweet woman with a bad reputation (Ann-Margret) finds love with the Ringo Kid (Alex Cord), a duty-bound cowboy set on revenge.

This 1966 remake of the 1939 Western classic follows this motley group of travelers that includes alcoholic doctor Josiah Boone (Bing Crosby); a brassy dance-hall girl named Dallas (Ann-Margret); Hatfield (Michael Connors), a mysterious gambling man; Mr. Peacock (Red Buttons), a charasimatic whiskey drummer, a pregnant cavalry wife named Lucy (Stefanie Powers); absconding banker Henry Gatewood (Bob Cummings); the stagecoach driver Buck (Slim Pickens); Marshall Curley Wilcox (Van Heflin) and the glamorously antiheroic Ringo Kid (Alex Cord). They hit the road to Cheyenne, struggling with bands of marauding Sioux, a gang of outlaws and the turmoil of the own personal dramas.

The stagecoach picks up revenge-driven Ringo on the way to Cheyenne because Curley wants to collect the reward for bringing him in. Dallas takes an instant liking to Ringo so it’s not all bad for the rebel. Along the way they have to make a pit stop so Lucy can have her baby with help from the good doctor who sobers up just enough to be useful. Once they hit the road again things really get dangerous for the group because a large pack of Indians attack them but the group is able to fight back and win but not without a casualty. In the end, the group makes it to their final destination where Ringo not only gets his revenge but he also gets the girl.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc features its own individual artwork. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Stagecoach by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any serious issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, there have been quite a few movies and remakes with the Stagecoach title over the years and this was the second one for me to watch. I still haven’t watched the 1939 original but hopefully I’ll get to see it one day. I really enjoyed this all-star western plus it was a first time for me to get to see several of these famous faces of yesteryear on the screen that I’d only heard about before hand. I liked the plot and the cast did a great job with their characters plus each one has an important part to play. I also noticed the movie features the theme song “Stagecoach to Cheyenne” that’s sung by the one and only by Wayne Newton and Norman Rockwell lends his talents with some amazing character portraits as the end credits roll. The artist also had a small role in the movie. All in all, I’d have to say that Gordon Douglas directed a really entertaining, character-driven western with great performances and a lot of edge of your seat action and that’s why I think it’s a classic. What a ride! Stagecoach is now available on Blu-ray and has a limited edition run of 3,000 units.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 114 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (2.0 on some players)

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include Twilight Time’s Isolated Music Track and some Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo.

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