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Anchor Bay presents
Big Red (1962)

"Just where do you think you're going with that dog?"
- James Haggin (Walter Pidgeon)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 02, 2001

Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Gilles Payant
Other Stars: ˆâmile Genest, Janette Bertrand, Georges Bouvier, Doris Lussier, Rolland Bédard, Teddy Burns Goulet
Director: Norman Tokar

MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 01h:29m:13s
Release Date: January 25, 2000
UPC: 013131106398
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-A- D

DVD Review

Big Red was Norman Tokar's second Disney outing after debuting his feature film career with Sammy the Way Out Seal (1962). Tokar would go on to direct a number of classic Disney adventures, including Where The Red Fern Grows, The Apple Dumpling Gang and Candleshoe. His work for Disney in the 1960s usually involved animals of some sort, and Big Red centers on a young boy and his relationship with man's best friend.

Walter Pidgeon stars as James Haggin, a wealthy sportsman who buys a prize red Irish Setter for his collection, which he obtains with cost not being an option. His plans to show the dog begin to go awry when he hires a young French-Canadian orphan, Rene Dumont (Gilles Payant) as a kennel and farm worker. Unlike Haggin's interest, which is purely financial, the boy forms an immediate emotional bond with Red, which interferes with Haggin's training of the dog. In order to form his own bond with Red, Haggin forbids the boy from seeing the dog, but on the eve of an important show, Dumont sneaks up to the Haggin house to wish the setter luck, only to have the dog crash through a plate glass window trying to reach the boy. Injured and unfit for show, Haggin orders the dog put down, but Dumont can not bear the thought of this and steals the dog away to his uncle's cabin, where he nurses him back to health, though the dog is badly scarred. When he returns to the farm with the dog, Haggin is impressed with the boy's determination and love for the animal, and offers him his old job back, but Dumont refuses, painfully severing his ties with Red. Unfit for show, Haggin decides to sell off the dog and his mate Molly, who is bearing Red's offspring. However, as the dogs are being shipped to their new home, they escape into the wilderness, where their chances of survival are slim. When Dumont learns of this news he abandons his new job and sets off hunting for the dog. With Molly about to have pups, the boy may be their only hope, though no one knows who will save whom in this family adventure.

Like many other Disney films showing the relationship between humans and animals, Big Red demonstrates the many forms these take. Haggin sees the dog only as a trophy, and when he no longer serves his purpose, he is resigned to putting the dog to sleep. Dumont on the other hand, falls in love with the dog, which is reciprocated by the animal. Being a Disney film, the characters will eventually gain a mutual understanding of each other, and with its wonderful scenic shots of the Quebec countryside and endearing story, Big Red certainly earns a place in any family film collection. There is plenty of action, several mild tear jerker scenes (this is a Disney film, so you're pretty sure the outcome won't be as bad as it could be), a few comedic moments, and of course, loveable animals. The outcome is inevitable, and shouldn't upset the kids.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Big Red is presented both in nonanamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and a full frame, open matte versions. Colors are vibrant and rich, black level is solid and contrast is well balanced. Typical of films from this era, there is some dust and dirt in the print, as well as film grain. The nonanamorphic transfer does reveal line structure if zoomed on a widescreen set, and there are some slight compression issues present, but these are not too distracting to the otherwise fine image.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is two channel mono, and is well defined and clear. Hiss and distortion are minimal. A well preserved soundtrack for the film.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No on disc extras are present. The package does contain a reproduction of the film's theatrical one sheet on heavy card stock, backed by the chapter listing.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A warm, sentimental story, beautiful Irish Setters and their puppies make this another Disney classic to cherish. The cinematography is beautiful, and Anchor Bay has presented the film with a decent transfer. Another fine family film from the 1960s. Recommended.


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