Last Stand at Saber River
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (12th June 2008).
The Film

Of all the movies in the collection, this one is by far the grittiest and most western-like. Based on a book by Elmore Leonard, it's a tough story with a grizzled war veteran, shootouts, fistfights, bloody battles and cowboys doing what cowboys do.

Cable, whom everybody thought dead from the war, fighting for the Confederates, comes back and takes his family to live to Arizona, where his neighbors don't like the fact that he fought for the South. Life is not as simple and easy as he and his family thought it would be.

As a backdrop, the movie takes place in 1865, in the waning months of the Civil War, but the war figures pretty prominently in the plot. Not the war, per se, but its ramifications. The fissure found between countrymen during war causes great hate for reasons that can't be explained, and this forces Cable to kill and do things he otherwise wouldn't do. He just wants to live his life with his family, but nobody will leave him alone.

The characters in this movie have a strange kind of code of honour and they keep it, which is good to see. Whatever happens, the people who break their code die and the people who keep their code are rewarded with their life. Whatever happens, life is not dictated by logic or by chance, except when these intersect honesty and integrity. It's strange to see, but it's refreshing, because it doesn't matter what side of the fight these guys are on, factions don't determine friends and enemies, like it may at first seem.

The movie has some pretty impressive talent in front of the camera. Tom Selleck is the star, but you'll also find Haley Joel Osment a couple of years before he saw dead people. You may also recognise David and Keith Carradine here, and even Harry Carey, Jr.

Though I didn't like some elements of the plot, they were unavoidable for the final showdown. Ultimately, everything worked together, even if it seems a bit easy. Cable goes through some tough times and he has to earn the peace he so dearly wants. The movie is a good old western and provides good entertainment.

Video

1.33:1 full screen. Warner, like in the other movies in the collection, does a very good job with the picture. It's not as sharp or detailed as it could be, but this is no doubt because of the age and provenance of the film. The colours are a bit muted, though I doubt they should be, and the contrast may be a bit on the flat side. There is enough of a natural feel to make this a good transfer, however. There aren't any specks, and edge enhancement (or any other digital work) isn't a problem. It's a good transfer.

Audio

English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo tracks are available. For the most part, the movie is quiet talking, with nothing too much happening. These scenes are handled very nicely, with the dialogue being clear, if a bit flat at times. Granted, voices don't have too much of a range, but still. The score has a good feel and doesn't muffle anything out. The hoofs and gun fire may seem a bit timid at times, but there's a nice boom when this is called for. This is a decent track.
English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

Under Also Available, you'll find trailers for 'Purgatory' and 'The Desperate Trail' (2:34 total)..

Overall

The Film: B- Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: F Overall: C

 


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