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Classic oaters ride the range again in collectors' editions

November 01, 2002|Susan King

Turner Classic Movies isn't the only place to see westerns this month. Two classics, "High Noon" and "Rio Grande," were recently released on DVD in special collectors' editions, and several restored Gene Autry films have been released on video.

Although Artisan had released the 1950 John Wayne-John Ford classic "Rio Grande" and the 1952 Gary Cooper-Fred Zinnemann Oscar-winner "High Noon" on DVD before, these editions ($20 each ) contain more extras and commentary.

In the case of "Rio Grande," the gripping action-adventure set against the battles between the U.S. Cavalry and the Apaches includes a beautiful digitally remastered picture and restored audio; and a lovely new documentary, "Along the Rio Grande With Maureen O'Hara," that features the delightful reminisces of co-star O'Hara, and Andrew McLaglen, the director son of Victor McLaglen, a "Rio Grande" costar and a popular member of director Ford's stock company of players.

O'Hara also supplies the scene-specific commentary for the movie, and she's marvelous as she talks about the genesis of "Rio Grande" and how much she loved working with the Duke -- it was their first of six films together -- and Ford.

The DVD of "High Noon" is unique because the offspring of the stars and creative talent provide the commentary -- Oscar-winner Cooper's daughter Maria Cooper-Janis; screenwriter and producer Carl Foreman's son Jonathan; director Zinnemann's son Tim; and John Ritter, the son of Tex Ritter, who sang the Academy Award-winning theme song, "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')." Each one gives a personal and heartfelt glimpse into his or her father's participation in this classic. The disc also features a lovely digitally remastered picture and restored audio, trailers, a radio broadcast with Tex Ritter, a chapter stop for the song and a new "Behind High Noon" documentary hosted by Cooper-Janis.

The late Singing Cowboy Autry has been in the news a lot this week with his beloved Anaheim Angels winning the World Series. For those who want to check out some of his classic B western musicals, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage and Gene Autry Entertainment recently released six of his films on video ($13 each, $70 for the set). Each film is uncut and fully restored: "The Big Show," "Home in Wyomin,' " "Mexicali Rose," "Ridin' on a Rainbow," "Sierra Sue" and "Western Jamboree." The movies were produced between 1936 and 1941, with "The Big Show" from 1936 featuring Leonard Slye, who later became better known as Roy Rogers. The 1941 film "Ridin' on a Rainbow" features Autry singing his Oscar-nominated tune, "Be Honest With Me." Smiley Burnett plays his faithful comic sidekick, Frog Millhouse. The videos are available at the Autry Museum and at www.autry-museum.org.

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-- Susan King

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