by HELEN GEIB
This week’s DVD of the Week selection inaugurates a change in format for this feature. The only new movie being released today is Hannibal Rising, a movie we can’t recommend (no surprise there). In fact, none of us wanted to write about anything being released this week. It doesn’t need psychic ability to see more weeks like this in our future. So, to save us from writing about Hannibal Rising and its ilk and to turn the spotlight on a wider range of good movies, we’ve opened the field. We will continue to profile new releases in weeks when a good new movie comes out, and in other weeks will recommend some other recently released film, old or new.
Our pick for this week is Rio Grande (1950), the classic western directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, the Ford stock company and the magnificent western landscapes so beloved by Ford. Ford and Wayne made more than a dozen films together over the span of several decades, including Stagecoach, The Searchers and a number of other wonderful pictures. Rio Grande has long been one of my favorites among their joint ventures.
It is the last in a group of three films known as the cavalry trilogy, following Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. The story in Rio Grande is marvelous and enlivened by humor, song and action. It is one of those films that I return to with pleasure year after year, and makes an excellent introduction to classic Hollywood westerns.
2007 is the centenary of John Wayne’s birth, providing the impetus for all the companies that own rights to his movies to release box sets, special editions, re-releases, new releases and anything else they can think up to cash in. Rio Grande, which was first released on DVD a few years ago, was re-released earlier this month as part of a John Wayne box set with The Fighting Kentuckian, The Lady Takes A Chance and Dakota. If you haven’t heard of the other three, you’re not alone. I won’t say there’s no one who’d want to buy this set, but unless you’re a die-hard Wayne fan, I recommend bypassing the set and picking up the earlier stand-alone DVD before it becomes unavailable.
New releases this week: Hannibal Rising