The Film (3/5)
I wouldn’t consider myself a Western genre film lover, but from time to time when I get wind an upcoming blu ray release and if it sounds interesting enough, I’ll give it a try. Such is the case with Jean Renoir’s The Southerner. The story is basic enough, a cotton picker, Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) decides he wants to start his own farm. Along with his wife Nona (Betty Field), their two children and “Granny” (Beulah Bondi). The family starts from scratch to build their own farm, which turns into a big game of survival. Their biggest adversaries are Henry Devers (J. Carrol Naish) who is an unfriendly neighbor farmer and nature itself including heavy rain, snow and other weather ailments which causes the family to starve, freeze or become very ill.
The film is perfectly sound; the cast gives excellent performances and there are some good moments in the movie such as a disastrous thunderstorm and a couple of fight scenes. J. Carrol Naish’s character Devers had a lot more psychological depth to it than I expected. For me it was worth seeing once. The Southerner is a well done film; there isn’t anything that I found bad or disliked about it..
Kino Lorber presents The Southerner on blu ray and the results are astonishing. Kino has sourced The Southerner from 35mm elements preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. In 1080p, with an MPEG 4 AVC encode, the image quality looks really good. Blacks are solid, excellent greyscale, grain is present, great details, excellent contrast; there are a few speckles and print damage here and there, but, overall, the image quality is just fabulous.
The audio quality is the usual Kino DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0 and once again no real audio issues.
Kino has provided a couple of fine extras to this release. First, there is A Salute to France, which is a 1944 war drama co-directed by Jean Renoir and co-starring Burgess Meredith. It is presented in HD and the running time is approximately 35 minutes.
The second extra, called The River, is 1938 documentary from Pare Lorentz, which influenced Renoir's work on The Southerner. This is presented in HD and runs about 30 minutes.
The Southerner is a film that is very much worth watching for those seeking out some classic films. Fans of Westerns will want to pick this one up.