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Found injured by rancher Shep Horgan, Jubal Troop is offered a job as cowhand and soon gains Shep's trust. Mae Horgan, feeling she's been trapped into marriage with Shep, takes a shine to Jubal, although he is more interested in Naomi Hoktor who is travelling with a wagon train camped on Shep's land. Pinky, until now top hand and used to Mae's favours himself, doesn't think much of the new deal and trouble is inevitable.
For more about Jubal and the Jubal Blu-ray release, see Jubal Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 27, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Valerie French, Felicia Farr, Charles Bronson
Director: Delmer Daves
» See full cast & crew
Jubal Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 27, 2013
Delmer Daves' "Jubal" (1956) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. There are no supplemental features on this release, but an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones is included. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked'.
While riding through the mountains, wealthy rancher Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine, The Wild Bunch) encounters Jubal Troop (Glenn Ford, 3:10 to Yuma), a wandering cowhand who can barely stand on his feet. Shep takes him back to his ranch where his wife May (Valerie French, Shalako) gives him hot coffee and food.
On the following day, Shep asks Jubal if he needs a job. Much to the displeasure of Pinky (Rod Steiger, On the Waterfront), another cowhand who suspects that Jubal might be a sheepherder, he decides to stay. Shep and Jubal soon become good friends and begin trusting each other more than the rest of the men working on the ranch.
Frustrated by Shep's lack of manners eventually May begins flirting with Jubal, but he quickly makes it clear that he isn't interested in her – and not because he does not like her, but because he does not want to hurt the man who saved him from freezing to death and then gave him a job. But May warns him that it is only a matter of time before she seduces him.
Soon after, Shep asks Jubal if he would like to become his foreman. At first Jubal hesitates, knowing that Pinky and the rest of the men on the ranch that have been working with Shep for years might object, but eventually accepts the new position. While celebrating his promotion, May casually kisses him.
A few days later, Jubal meets Reb (Charles Bronson, Once Upon a Time in the West), a drifter passing through the area. The two talk and Jubal asks him to stay and help him with the ranch work. Sensing that he is losing his influence on Shep, Pinky makes a crucial move that unleashes a series of dramatic events.
Based on the novel by Paul Wellman, Delmer Daves' Jubal is a Shakespearian drama set amidst Wyoming's beautiful mountains. Daves shot it in Cinemascope and Technicolor in 1956, a year before he completed arguably his best film, the noirish western 3:10 to Yuma.
The film is structured around two key conflicts, each presenting a moral dilemma. The first involves the beautiful May and Jeb who are clearly attracted to each other for the wrong reasons. The second involves Jeb and his best friend Shep, who decides to defend his honor without knowing enough about May's interest in his foreman.
The story follows a familiar route but the terrific acting makes this film enormously entertaining. The frequent clashes between Ford and Borgnine, in particular, add a great deal of intensity and quickly force one to choose sides. On the other hand, Borgnine's brutish rancher is in the middle of quite a few comic episodes.
As it is the case with 3:10 to Yuma, the action in Jubal is of little importance to the story. The focus of attention is exclusively on the evolving relationships between the main characters. Similar to 3:10 to Yuma, however, the unique framing gives the film a certain noirish atmosphere. The interior footage, in particular, has plenty of low-angle shots where light and shadow are treated with the same attention they were given in many of the best noir films from the 1950s.
Jubal was lensed by cinematographer Charles Lawton Jr., who also collaborated with Daves on 3:10 to Yuma. Eventually, the two men will team up to work on four more films: Cowboy (1958), Rome Adventure (1962), Spencer's Mountain (1963), and Youngblood Hawke (1964).
Jubal Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Delmer Daves' Jubal arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new digital master was produced from a restoration undertaken by Sony, for which a digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Northlight scanner from the original 35mm camera negative; the restoration work was then performed in 2K resolution. The original stereo soundtrack was restored from the original 35mm D/M/E magnetic master and the 35mm LCR stereo master.
Restoration and mastering supervised by: Grover Crisp/Sony Pictures, Culver City, CA.
Colorist: Scott Ostrowsky."
The outdoor footage looks very good. Depth and especially clarity are very pleasing while contrast is stable. The indoor footage, however, is not as sharp and vibrant. While some of the clarity fluctuations are directly related to the manner in which light and shadow are treated, there are some contrast fluctuations that are not inherited. There are also sporadic color pulsations as well as basic frame instability (typically accompanied by color instability). There are no traces of excessive degraining. Edge-enhancement is also not an issue of concern. Some light banding is present, but there are no serious compression anomalies to report in this review. Lastly, there are no large damage marks, debris, cuts, or scratches throughout the film. All in all, despite some of the minor issue noted above, this is indeed a good organic presentation of Jubal that should please its fans. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Jubal Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The lossless audio track has plenty of depth and a surprisingly good range of nuanced dynamics. David Raksin's intense orchestral score enhances the dramatic atmosphere very well. Generally speaking, the dialog is well rounded, stable, clean, and easy to follow. Also, there are no annoying high-frequency distortions of audio dropouts to report in this review.
Jubal Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Jubal Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While not as atmospheric as 3:10 to Yuma, Jubal is just as entertaining. The cast is outstanding. I was particularly impressed by Rod Steiger's mean-spirited cowhand Pinky Pinkum. Let's hope that soon we will also see Delmer Daves' Cowboy with Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon transition to Blu-ray. Indeed, it was a terrific idea to add these westerns to the Criterion Collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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