POINTLESS REISSUE OF ALREADY AVAILABLE DVD,
This review is from: Duel in the Sun (DVD)Producer David O. Selznick never thought small. Dreaming of a magnum opus on the same grand scale as "Gone with the Wind" and, perhaps a little bit self-conscious of the fact that his recent affair with Jennifer Jones had yielded only one stellar performance from the starlet - and not even in a film he had produced - Selznick's driving ambition to make Jones a star on par with the likes of Vivien Leigh, led him to handcraft "Duel in the Sun." This was to be an extravagant Technicolor epic about a doomed mulatto, Pearl Chavez (Jones) and her rabid lust for, Lewton McCanles (Gregory Peck, in the uncharacteristic part as the villain), the ruthless son and roguish playboy of retired senator and bigoted rancher, Jackson McCanles (Lionel Barrymore). After Pearl's father, Scott (Herbert Marshall) murders her mother, Pearl is sent to live with Jackson and his wife, Laura Bell (Lillian Gish) on their sprawling ranch, Spanish Bit. Pearl is determined to live purely and plainly, but her incendiary disposition leads into the arms of Lewton. Jesse McCanles (Joseph Cotten), the good son, is forced to leave Spanish Bit, returning years later to find that his brother has become a ruthless tyrant and outlaw. Buttressed by a fiery backdrop about the colliding sensibilities of old West morality and the true Northern ambitions to tame it, "Duel In The Sun" ultimately became an overblown melodrama that seemed almost a garish lampoon of "Gone With The Wind" rather than its successor. It did respectable box office at the time but very little to advance Jennifer Jones' career into the echelons of super stardom. Prior to its release a sensual dance sequence that Pearl performs around a tree stump for Lewton was deleted because the censorship of the period found its sexual implications...well, shocking. Selznick's usual attention to craftsmanship and story design also seem to be absent from this occasion. He repositions Butterfly McQueen (Prissy from "Gone With The Wind) as the Prissy-esque house maid, Vashti, who is even dumber than Prissy and, Selznick muddles the supporting cast with oddities of all sorts, including Walter Huston as a religious zealot, determined to rid Pearl of her sexual demons, and Charles Bickford, as an over-the-hill farmer who offers Pearl his hand in a loveless marriage. Because of its sexually charged subject matter (there is, after all, a rape, a murder and the prospect of lovers committing suicide in the mountains) "Duel In The Sun" acquired the rather unflattering moniker of 'Lust In The Dust.'
"Duel In The Sun" had previously been made available from Anchor Bay in a stunning road show edition. MGM's reissue is the truncated theatrical version - also made previously available through Anchor Bay. On all three DVD incarnations, colors are well balanced, though on this new version they seem a tad more dated from the rich and vibrant colors on the Anchor Bay version. Black levels are good but fine detail is lost in many darkly lit scenes. There's also more noticeable film grain on this version than the Anchor Bay edition. The audio is remixed to stereo but only marginally appealing, sounding rather forced and re-channeled. There are NO extras.
There's nothing to stand up and cheer about here. If you are a die hard fan of this film, or westerns, then you will definitely want to look up the out of print copy from Anchor Bay, rather than this reissue. Aside from being longer, the Anchor Bay version also tends to be a better visual presentation overall.