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Legend of the Lost(1957)
A wealthy treasure hunter employs a brawling, jailbird adventurer to help him find a hidden treasure in the Sahara, but eventually a young woman, along for the ride and looking to marry the wealthy man, comes between them.
For more about Legend of the Lost and the Legend of the Lost Blu-ray release, see Legend of the Lost Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Henry Hathaway
Writer: Ben Hecht (I)
Starring: John Wayne, Sophia Loren, Rossano Brazzi, Kurt Kasznar
» See full cast & crew
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 6, 2013
Henry Hathaway's "Legend of the Lost" a.k.a "Stadt der Verlorenen" (1957) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of German distributors Koch Media. The supplemental features on the disc include original English and German trailers for the film as well as a collection of posters and other promo materials. In English, with optional English and German subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
In the desert city of Timbuktu, Paul Bonnard (Rossano Brazzi, The Adventurers, Io e Caterina), a wealthy foreigner, is robbed by a beautiful prostitute (Sophia Loren, Boccaccio '70, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). The woman is arrested, but Bonnard refuses to press charges against her and she is quickly released. Shortly after, he hires American opportunist Joe January (John Wayne, The Barbarian and the Geisha) to take him deep into the Sahara desert where years ago his father disappeared without a trace. Before they leave, Bonnard and the prostitute spend a night together talking about the things that matter the most in life.
In the desert, Bonnard reveals to January that his father discovered the treasure of the lost city of Timgrad. January does not believe him but agrees to retain one third of the treasure if it turns out that Bonnard's father was speaking the truth. Around the same time, the beautiful prostitute reappears. Deeply moved by her recent conversation with Bonnard, she vows to follow him to Timgrad. January tries to argue that a woman, and especially one such as Dita, will only slow them down, but Bonnard allows her to join them.
In the days that follow January does his best to compromise Dita and convince Bonnard that it was a mistake to take her with them. The tension rises and after a small argument fueled by a bottle of whiskey January and Bonnard clash. Barely able to contain his anger January announces that he has had enough and is heading back to Timbuktu, but Dita dumps their water supplies, assuming that Timgrad is close and that everyone will have to go there together in order to survive.
There are two key reasons why one would want to see Henry Hathaway's Legend of the Lost. The first has to do with the fact that this is the one and only film in which Loren and Wayne could be seen together. The second is the beautiful lensing by the legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes, The African Queen).
Unfortunately, while the film often looks quite spectacular - some of its most memorable sequences were shot on location in the Libyan Desert – its script is shockingly weak. The conversations between the main characters for instance become unbearable long before the film even reaches the half-hour mark. And by the time Bonnard utters the important confession that redirects the film, everything already looks and feels like a giant farce.
Perhaps the biggest issue, however, is the complete lack of chemistry between the leads. Loren does her best to inspire Wayne to like her, but for a long period of time he looks too jaded and bored. Did the desert sun have anything to do with it? It is difficult to tell, but he does not look like a man who is even remotely interested in what Loren might be willing to give him. Needless to say, the finale looks utterly bizarre.
Brazzi's wealthy foreigner also undergoes a character transformation that is as ridiculous as the remarkably stylish clothes he is often seen wearing. Throughout most of the film the lines he utters also appear to have been borrowed from the Great Book of Clichés. He never looks like the type of man Loren's prostitute claims he is and most definitely does not talk like one.
Cardiff's touch in the panoramic shots from the desert during the second half of the film is very easy to recognize. Angelo Francesco Lavagnino's (Sergio Leone's The Colossus of Rhodes, Sergio Corbucci's Specialists) soundtrack is also surprisingly good.
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Henry Hathaway's Legend of the Lost arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of German distributors Koch Media.
Excluding some tiny flecks and small scratches popping up here and there, the film looks surprisingly healthy. The larger panoramic shots from the desert for instance boast pleasing depth, while the nighttime sequences convey good clarity. Color reproduction is also decent, though there are a few areas where extremely light color flutter is present. Contrast levels are stable. There are no traces of excessive degraining. Edge-enhancement is also not an issue of concern. Serious transfer specific anomalies, such as banding and macroblocking, are also nowhere to be seen. There are no frame transition issues to report in this review either. To sum it all up, While the transfer is dated, the film has a pleasing and stable organic look. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. and German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Koch Media have provided optional English and German subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
Depth and clarity are very good on the lossless English track. There is even a decent range of nuanced dynamics. The dialog is crisp, stable, and easy to follow. Background hiss is not an issue of concern. Also, there are no audio dropouts, pops, or distortions to report in this review.
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The talent involved with Legend of the Lost is very impressive - director Henry Hathaway, Sophia Loren, John Wayne, Rossano Brazzi, the legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff, and the great screenwriter Ben Hecht, among others. However, the film is quite disappointing. It is often strikingly beautiful, but the narrative is very weak. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, however, is Region-Free, and the technical presentation is surprisingly good.
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Navajo Joe, Legend of the Lost, and Futureworld Heading to Germany - October 7, 2011
German distributors Koch Entertainment have revealed that they are planning to release on BLu-ray a trio of classic films: Henry Hathaway's Legend of the Lost (1957), starring Sophia Loren and John Wayne; Sergio Corbucci's Navaho Joe (1966), starring Burt Reynolds, ...
Legend of the Lost Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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