The Far Country

7.21 h 37 min1954
Lone cattleman Jimmy Stewart finds trouble when he drives his herd north to Alaska. Ruth Roman, Walter Brennan.
Anthony Mann
James StewartRuth RomanWalter Brennan
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Corinne CalvetJohn McIntireJay C. FlippenHarry MorganSteve BrodieRoyal DanoGregg BartonChubby JohnsonEddy WallerJack ElamRobert FoulkEugene Borden
Aaron Rosenberg
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4.6 out of 5 stars

337 global ratings

  1. 79% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

John FowlerReviewed in the United States on November 13, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon has reversed photos two and three.
PHOTO 1 = 1.33: 1 “open matte” - issued on DVD in 2003
PHOTO 2 = 1.85: 1 “original aspect ratio” (Widescreen) on new Blu-ray
PHOTO 3 = 2.00: 1 “alternate original aspect ratio” (Superscope) on new Blu-ray
PHOTOS 4 + 5 = The Blu-ray cover is reversible

1954 was a transition year for American cinema.
For 35 years, the official aspect ratio for Hollywood films had been 1.33:1
Pronounced “one-point-three-three to one” - also known as 4/3 - also known as the “Academy Ratio” (same ratio as analog television).
In 1954 the “Wide Screen” aspect ratio of 1.85:1 was introduced.
But 90% of American movie theaters were not equipped with wide screens.
Universal Studios faced a quandary - they were in danger of at least temporarily losing 90% of their audience.
The solution was to introduce the concept of “open matte” for 1.33:1 film stock.
Anthony Mann’s ‘The Far Country’ starring James Stewart is an example.
Cinematographer William Daniels shot it on standard 35mm technicolor film stock, but was careful to leave plenty of room at the top and the bottom.
If it had been filmed five years earlier the blocking would have looked considerably different.
Universal used the same negative to prepare two different prints of ‘The Far Country’.

PHOTO 1: Most theaters were sent the 1.33:1 print.
Audiences may or may not have noticed all that extra sky at the top of the film (it's actually kind of neat).
Universal Home Video issued the 1.33:1 open matte print on DVD in 2003: [[ASIN:B00008CMSY The Far Country]]

PHOTO 2: Wide screen 1.85:1 prints were prepared by applying a matte to the top and bottom of the negative (the director and cinematographer supervised the process).
Technically both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 qualify as the “original aspect ratio”.
The 2019 Arrow Academy Blu-ray is the first American release of the 1.85:1 Widescreen picture (photo two).

PHOTO 3: A second Blu-ray is included. When I first heard this, I thought it might be the 1.33:1 open matte version, but it turns out to be an even wider 2.00:1 aspect ratio.
Universal’s rival Twentieth Century Fox had introduced “Cinemascope”, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in an attempt to scoop the other studios and their puny “Widescreen” pictures. Hah!
In a desperate counter-move, Universal adopted the “Superscope” 2.00:1 aspect ratio for a limited number of prints.
A bridge too far?
The picture looks cramped to me (photo three).

--- English SDH subtitles.
--- New audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin.
--- Limited edition 24 page booklet.
--- American Frontiers: Anthony Mann at Universal - documentary (contains spoilers)
--- Mann of the West - appraisal of Far Country and the westerns of Anthony Mann by the critic Kim Newman.
--- Image gallery.
--- Original trailer.

“The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution at NBC Universal’s Studio Post facility.
The film was graded and restored at Silver Salt Restoration, London.
The original mono mix was remastered from the optical negatives at Deluxe Audio Services, Hollywood.”

For more about the five James Stewart / Anthony Mann Westerns, see Comment one (sort by "Oldest").
26 people found this helpful
swansongReviewed in the United States on January 27, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
New Blu Ray review
Verified purchase
Arrow Films have done a wonderful job restoring this film. The picture quality is excellent for the most part, although there are sections where the quality drops due to the actual source used. Overall I found it to be a rather large step up from the previous DVD.

You get two different screen formats and the quality is the same for both. Disc one seems to be the theatrical version and disc two trims a bit off the top and bottom of the picture.

If you’re a fan of the film you should be very happy with the upgrade in both picture and sound. The release also comes with a lovely booklet with some great information along with some excellent photos.

Now if we could just get new restored versions of Winchester 73, and The Sons of Katie Elder, I’ll be a happy guy. As Criterion is due to release Destry Rides Again in April, rumors are that they will also restore Winchester 73.

Fingers crossed.
9 people found this helpful
Quiet KnightReviewed in the United States on November 26, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
The Far Country Is Found On Blu-ray
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Arrow Academy released this Universal Studios 1954 James Stewart western directed by Anthony Mann on Blu-ray in a 2-disc edition which includes the theatrical trailer from the DVD, but now also an audio commentary from film scholar Adrian Martin, still galleries, two featurettes about the film, director, and studio, multi-page booklet and slipcover!. Despite these extras, the HD transfer looks little better than the DVD, and the second disc is mostly redundant, since the difference in aspect ratios(1:85:1 & 2:00:1) is negligible, and not worth the bother. Film itself is mostly mediocre, though the on-location filming is beautiful.
2 people found this helpful
Kirby Lee DavisReviewed in the United States on December 16, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Picture looked no better than my old VHS
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I was really bummed out by my DVD of this film, for it looked no better than my old VHS copy. Thus when I read of a remastered print coming out on Blu-ray, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the image looks no better than my DVD. So sad... This is a great film and deserves a crystal-clear, pristine release. Perhaps no such copies exist anymore, which would be a crime.
4 people found this helpful
oldmoviefanReviewed in the United States on December 21, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
This is not an improvement
Verified purchase
This Blu-Ray is a total waste of money if you are wanting a clear picture. Might as well keep the old dvd.
Nice box, bunch of extras, but the picture is NO better than a used VHS. Maybe the original negative was lost
or damaged. Lots of scenes look to be out of register, soft, or shot through a screen door. Buy or KEEP the original
4 people found this helpful
Made In The USA Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
"The Far Country" - DVD - Review
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5 stars for nature's beauty of the filming location in Canada.
. . . . .
4 stars for Corinne Calvet's portrayal of the determined, kind, and caring Renee Vallon.
. . . . .
3 stars for the other characters portrayed in the movie.
. . . . .
3 stars for the slow pace and predictability.
. . . . .
Rate this movie 3 stars overall.
3 people found this helpful
goodoldmacReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
First class Stewart/Mann Western
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This was the 4th collaboration between Stewart and director Anthony Mann, and man, (pardon the lousy pun) it does not get much better than this! This Stewart character is far different one than you usually see, not at all what you normally think of when you hear the name "James Stewart". Here, he is a far harder, much more cynical, 'bitterer' (I think that is a word) man than you generally see him protray. He and his partner, (Walter Brennan) move a small herd of cattle from Seattle to Skagway, Ak, then into the interior to Dawson in the Yukon and the gold strike going on there. It isn't quite that simple of course, and that is the movie... not one but two female 'love interests' compete for Stewart and John Ireland makes an excellent villian...
2 people found this helpful
W. WalkerReviewed in the United States on May 13, 2008
4.0 out of 5 stars
Lady killer vs. man killer in Klondike
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This is mostly a story about the growing relationship between cowboy Jeff Webster(Jimmy Stewart) and femme fatale Ronda Castle(Ruth Roman). She takes an instant liking to Jeff with just a brief encounter on the deck of the steamer to Skagway, and a longer look when he hides in her cabin while authorities look for him, charged with murder. They find out they have some important things in common, besides an animal attraction. Namely, neither dares to trust a member of the opposite sex, having apparently married to spouses who cheated on them. Gradually, they learn to trust each other, as they journey from Skagway to Dawson. But Ronda clearly has close dealings with corrupt Sheriff Gannon and engages in some shady practices in her Castle saloon in Skagway. She eventually is forced to decide between Gannon and Jeff. Meanwhile, a young naive French woman, Renee, also takes an immediate liking to Jeff, but only gets insulting brush offs in return. Clearly too young for him, he thinks. Yet, she sticks with him in his travels from Skagway to Dawson and his activities around Dawson. Along with Ronda, she nurses him back to health after he is left for dead by Gannon's gunslingers at his gold claim. Walter Brennan, as Ben, serves as Jeff's long time sidekick. He doesn't have a meaty role, but he does serve to soften Jeff's hard edges. His demise symbolically opens the door for a woman companion replacement for Jeff.
John McIntire, as sheriff Gannon, makes probably the most charismatic evil town boss you will ever see on film, oozing charm and humor to go along with his bullying. He makes a believable incarnation of the infamous Soapy Smith, who spent his last years in Skagway, as one of the premier con men of his era. Evidently, Gannon sees something of himself in Jeff, repeatedly declaring that he's going to like him(and kill him).
Jeff is the quintessential antihero, a loner(except for companion Ben) who doesn't want to stick his neck out for others, even when he knows he is the one right man for the job. In this respect, he closely resembles Burt Lancaster's character in "Vera Cruz", for example. Thus, Jeff not only turns down the job of marshall of Dawson, he is about to leave the Yukon after Gannon's gang moves in with clear intentions of taking over everyone's insufficiently legal mining claims, while disposing of some of the miners and suggesting that the rest make a hurried exit from the Yukon while they are still alive. Even Ronda suggests that she and Jeff best leave together quickly. Then, Jeff has a sudden change of heart, apparently still nursing a desire for revenge for the shooting of Ben and himself. He changes from antihero to hero in leading the expulsion of Gannon's gang from Dawson. In this respect, he differ's from Lancaster's character, who never reforms. But, is Jeff truly changed or just carrying out revenge for wrongs committed against his own interests, which happen to benefit the whole town? We'll never know.
The main problem I see with the plot is the 2 principle women. Clearly, Ronda is groomed as the right woman to tame Jeff. Although she is clearly characterized as a "bad" girl, Jeff has a checkered past himself, having shot at least 5 men within the past few months, and having stolen back his cattle from Gannon. Ironically, soon after Jeff transforms from an antihero into a hero, Ronda makes a similar change in running into the dark street to warn Jeff of Gannon's impending ambush. She dies as a result, and Jeff asks why she didn't just look out for herself(his supposedly just adandoned creed!).
It's clear that Corinne Calvet, as Renee, just doesn't make a credible substitute for the dead Ronda, in Jeff's mind. Yet, the clear suggestion of the parting scene is that they get together, even though they never visibly exchange a kiss or hug, just a hand on hand as a start. Her image as a "good" girl is somewhat compromised by her job in Ronda's saloon of bumping miners weighing their gold dust and pushing the spilled dust on the floor, which she later recovers. Also, I'm very unclear about her relationship with Rube Morris(Jay Flippen), a middle-aged miner, who follows her around and later works a claim with her.(He's not her father).
Another flaw is the amateurish handling of the terminal gunfight between Jeff and Gannon's gang. If Gannon had any skill at all with a pistol, he should have killed or seriously wounded Jeff under that boardwalk before Jeff did the same to him. And how did Jeff's badly shot up right hand suddenly become well enough to shoot a pistol with apparent ease? I also wonder what Jeff and friends did to help the victims of the avalanche. They were too far away to get there in time to pull them out alive from under the snow, even if they knew where they were! And why weren't most of Ronda's pack horses or mules also buried by the avalanche?
You will see a host of probably nameless but familiar faces among the miners around Dawson and among Gannon's gang. The sequences shot in the Canadian Rockies provide a breathtaking backdrop to the action. All-in- all, a very entertaining western, with most of the major flaws concentrated at the end. No doubt, great liberties with history and geography were taken, especially the parts taking place in the Canadian Yukon which was, in fact, much tamer than the US Skagway. No Jeff would have been required to quickly rid the Yukon of any Gannon-like badmen.
5 people found this helpful
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