In this silent Western, 3 Bad Men is about just that, three men “Bull” Stanley (Tom Santschi, Isle of Lost Men), Mike Costigan( J Farrell MacDonald, Topper, The Thirteenth Guest) and “Spade”Allen (Frank Campeau,(Hop-Along Cassidy), outlaws with a bounty on them who suddenly change their ways when they come across and rescue a young woman , Lee Carlton(Olive Borden, Sinners in Love, Chloe) whose father was killed by horse thieves. The three of them save her from the thieves and vow to protect her from a vicious evil sheriff, Layne Hunter (Lou Tellegen, Together We Live) and his gang of thugs. The three men then decide that Lee Carlton needs a husband. Dan O’Malley (George O’Brien, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) is the man that they choose to be her spouse, and what a great choice he is. The three hoodlums, now looked upon as heroic, along with Lee and Dan have mission is to explore the lands in search of gold. They set up a camp site with others waiting for President Grant to make his official announcement to explore the new lands to find gold, and that’s where the film begins to take off with a lot of action leading to a violent climax.
3 Bad Men was directed by the great John Ford, whose resume includes Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes of Wrath, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon along with many, many other great Westerns, and period pieces. Ford won four academy awards for best director in his over forty year iconic career. This was a chance for me to see his early works and I was not disappointed. This is a truly incredible film, beautifully shot, with some incredible scenery, and some great performances by the cast. With Ford’s direction, 3 Bad Men, stands out amongst other Westerns from this era; giving his characters a great deal of depth, especially to the “3 Bad Men” (Bull, Mike and Spade) as they began as villainous hoodlums in the film to protectors of Lee and risk their lives during a climatic shootout. His shots of the beautiful scenery, the land, are just breathtaking. There are plenty of unforgettable scenes in the movie including the great land rush sequence with hundreds of horses and wagons racing on the land, a church that’s set afire and burns to the ground, and a fantastic climatic battle between the one true evil character, Hunter and the Carltons along with the three heroic bandits.
3 Bad Men makes its debut on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber. The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:35:1, in 1080p with an MPEG 4 - AVC encode and the results are pretty good. The movie, as of this year is ninety years old, looks possibly as good as it will ever be. Yes there is plenty of print damage, vertical lines, but on the plus side there is great depth to the image due to the higher contrast than the DVD release, it solid black level; the grey scale is more than acceptable. Overall this is more than serviceable.
The audio quality for the movie is English LPCM 2.0. The music comes in loud and clear. No subtitles are included in this release. The commentary track’s audio is Dolby digital English 2.0 is used with no issues
We get an audio commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride and a trailer for The Hurricane (also directed by John Ford)
3 Bad Men is an excellent film that is very highly recommended to those who have an interest in silent films, Westerns and films directed by the great John Ford. This is a brilliant film, coupled with the movie now being available in HD along with a commentary track makes this release a winner!