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Image Entertainment presents
Indian Territory (1950)

"It's just the Kid's way of saying that we're working up to get shot."
- Gene Autry (Himself)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: July 21, 2004

Stars: Gene Autry, Champion, Pat Buttram, Gail Davis, Kirby Grant
Other Stars: James Griffith, Philip Van Zandt, G. Pat Colins, Roy Gordon
Director: John English

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:08m:55s
Release Date: July 13, 2004
UPC: 014381231229
Genre: western


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BA-B- B-

DVD Review

Considering how many Westerns Gene Autry filmed, surprisingly few of them are period pieces actually set in the Old West. This 1950 offering released originally by Columbia Pictures is an exception to that rule, set in the years just after the Civil War and replete with animosities between Blue and Grey, not to mention references to the infamous Quantrill's Raiders.

Gene, a reformed Confederate, has joined the U.S. cavalry and is serving as a special agent. He learns of a plot by the renegade half-breed The Apache Kid (James Griffith) and renegade Austrian Curt Reidler (Philip Van Zandt) to run guns to the Apaches, rustle the cattle of Jim Colton (G. Pat Collins) and generally raise havoc. Lt. Randy Mason (Kirby Grant) and trapper Shadrach Jones (sidekick Pat Buttram) give Gene a hand and Colton's daughter Melody (Gail Davis) demonstrates spunk under fire.

Despite the title, which might have the politically correct feeling rather nervous, this film takes a pretty sympathetic view towards Native Americans, especially through the mouth of Autry, who's portrayed here as a blood brother to the Chiricahua. Yes, the natives are rampaging, but the blames is put squarely on the evil Austrians, where it should be. Or as Buttram suggests, the Australians.

In addition to the usual cast from this period, the always reliable Buttram and Gail Davis, who's loosening up in this third of 14 outings with Autry, there's a strong supporting cast. Griffith isn't exactly convincing as a half-breed, but he nonetheless creates a fairly memorable character with his ominous warnings and gaunt appearance. Kirby Grant would go on to star in Sky King and he has an engaging running seriocomic feud with Autry through the short running time. For a change, the comic relief is actually funny, mostly due to Buttram, but others pitch in as well.There's an exciting stampede sequence that's well shot, although there are some very shoddy day-for-night segments.

There aren't too many songs here, with only two or three being sung depending how you count them, but the first one is a dandy: The Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy. Of course, the boogie-woogie lyrics and music are utterly anachronistic in this setting, but Autry's rendition is fun nonetheless. Besides When the Campfire is Low on the Prairie, there's also a square dance with calls by Buttram. Not much for music, but there's more plot than usual for this kind of programmer.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame picture looks very nice. As usual for this series, the picture and sound have been restored and there's very little to complain about beyond the occasional speckle. There's minor dot crawl and aliasing, but it's still highly watchable even on a larger screen. There's reasonably good shadow detail and very sharp black levels. The greyscale, as usual, is excellent. This probably didn't look this good in 1950.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono English soundtrack is reasonably clean, without much hiss or noise. Dialogue is quite clear throughout. Music is somewhat tinny at times, but it's certainly acceptable for a picture of this age. There's some decent bass extension and little distortion or clipping to be heard.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 3 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English (Closed Captioning) with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Production Notes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Radio show
  2. Still, poster and lobby card galleries
  3. Pressbook
Extras Review: The usual nice selection of extras rounds out the disc. First up is the Melody Ranch Theater introduction from 1987 with Autry and Buttram. Since Buttram is a costar, it's a much more animated and interesting discussion than some of the other entries in the series have been for films when Smiley Burnette was filling the sidekick boots. They've got plenty of reminiscences this time round. There's also an episode of the Melody Ranch radio program from October 14, 1950, when the feature was in theaters. This has a comic storyline that's pretty entertaining, as well as such classic songs as Goodnight, Irene and the immortal Cool Water.

But there's of course still more. Costar Gail Davis gets a three-screen bio plus two filmographies, and there's also a clip from an episode of her Annie Oakley series. A brief set of production notes is supplemented by a gallery with many, many stills, and another gallery containing a full set of lobby cards and one poster. Finally, there's the pressbook plus a separate gallery of tie-in (or "tie-up") products from the pressbook. A particularly nice batch of added value this time around.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

An entertaining Western with a classic song to boot. Another excellent restoration in this series, and the usual cornucopia of extras. Well done once again.

 


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