The Film (3.5/5)
Dean Jagger (Alligator) is one of the key players in this classic, Western Union, as Edward Creighton, a man who is in charge of a telegraph company that is going to build lines which would connect Omaha and Salt Lake City. Working for The Western Union, he hires reformed outlaw Vance Shaw (Randolph Scott, The Cariboo Trail) and land surveyor Richard Blake (Robert Young, The Mortal Storm)to assist the team in the building of that line. In their way stands Vance Shaw’s brother, Jack Slade (Barton McLane, Unknown Island). Disguised as Indians, Slade and his gang of outlaws set out to sabotage the line including stealing the horses that belong to the Western Union. The actual Native Americans get blamed leading to a little tension, on top of the tensions with the Western Union lines being built on their land. Shaw, torn between his brother and the Western Union keeps his mouth shut about the attacks by Slade until it’s too late. And by keeping silent, this allows Jack Slade goes all out against the Western Union, even starting fires at the campsite. Creighton fires Shaw after he refuses to share information about the outlaws and their plans. As Shaw leaves he tells Blake to tell Creighton that he and Slade are brothers. Shaw rides off and finds his brother Slade in a town at a barber shop, which leads to a climatic shootout. It’s truly a memorable scene with Shaw and Slade having a shootout with Slade having shaving cream still on one side of his face.
Western Union is a great movie, directed by Fritz Lang, one of the best directors who was way ahead of his time in many of his films including German expressionism films Metropolis and M to other Noir classics such as The Big Heat. The film might not be historically accurate but it’s highly entertaining with a great cast and some good timely action sequences. The cast is superb, including legendary veteran actor, John Carradine (House of Frankenstein), Virginia Gilmore (Tall Dark and Handsome) And Chill Wills (McLintock!)
Western Union is given a Blu-ray release courtesy of Kino Lorber, much to the delight of the film’s fans. The movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:33:1, in 1080p with an MPEG 4 - AVC encode and the results are just outstanding. In this early color film, the daylight scenes are just delightful with good, clear, vivid colors. Blue skies look really blue, maybe even a little too dark on the blue side at times. There aren’t any really serious issues in quality other than a few speckles here and there. Film grain is present; no DNR has been applied. Overall this looks stunning and obviously the source materials were in really good shape.
The audio used for Western Union is English DTS-HD Master Audio2.0. The dialog, yelling, screaming, music and gunshots all come in loud and clear. It’s more than serviceable.
Not much in the way of extras, just some trailers for Canadian Pacific, The Cariboo Trail, Man of the West, Yellow Sky, The Gunfight at Dodge City, Man With the Gun which are other Kino Lorber Western titles on Blu-ray.
I was very pleased with this release. A classic Lang Western given a Region A Blu-ray release was more than welcome. It might lack in extras, but the viewing experience and enjoyment of the film more than makes up for it