Streets of Laredo (1995) (NTSC)

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Released 5-Dec-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Miniseries None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 262:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Joseph Sargent
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring James Garner
Sissy Spacek
Sam Shepherd
Sonia Braga
Wes Studi
Alexis Cruz
Charles Martin Smith
Tristan Tait
Randy Quaid
Ned Beatty
Kevin Conway
Case ?
RPI ? Music David Shire


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Streets of Laredo is the third film after Lonesome Dove and Return to Lonesome Dove to feature the character of ex-Texas Ranger Woodrow Call (this time played by James Garner following Tommy Lee Jones and Jon Voight). Like Lonesome Dove, but unlike Return to Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo is based on a novel by Larry McMurtry. Streets of Laredo starts about 20 years after the events of Lonesome Dove, ignoring completely those in Return to Lonesome Dove; these never happened.

     Ex-Texas Ranger Captain Woodrow Call (James Garner) is even more grizzled and has put on weight. He is not a rancher as in the earlier film but a bounty hunter and is hired by the railway to track down a young Mexican boy Joey Garza (Alexis Cruz), train robber and cold blooded killer. Call asks his old comrade Pea Eye (now played by Sam Shepherd) to ride with him. But Pea Eye, who is married to ex-whore and now schoolteacher Lorena (now Sissy Spacek), with whom he has five children, declines to leave his family. So instead Call leaves for Mexico with tenderfoot railway employee Ned Brookshire (Charles Martin Smith) and young Deputy Ted Plunkert (Tristan Tait).

     In Mexico Joey’s mother Maria (Sonia Braga) learns that Call is coming for her son so she sends Joey away to Crow Town, a dilapidated, skeleton ringed shanty town in the Badlands where no law exists, except the law of the gun. There Joey meets famed gunfighter and killer John Wesley Hardin (Randy Quaid). Meanwhile Pea Eye has regretted his decision not to go with Call so sets out after him and on the trail falls in with Indian tracker Famous Shoes (Wes Studi), who offers to help Pea Eye track Joey for an unusual fee. Also complicating matters is the renegade killer and burner alive of animals and humans for fun Mox Mox (Kevin Conway) who years before had tried to kill Lorena. She fears he may be returning to finish the job so she sends her children north to stay with Clara and sets out to find her husband. In reality Mox Mox is looking for Joey, unhappy that Joey is robbing the trains Mox Mox and his gang had targeted. The trails of everyone cross in the Mexican Badlands; death and tragedy walk together and the resolutions are not those most of the characters anticipated.

     Streets of Laredo lacks the epic scale and grandeur of Lonesome Dove with its scenes of cattle being herded across the endless plains of mid-western America, although the deserts, buffs, rivers, scrub and dusty towns and villages of Texas (and Mexico) as filmed by cinematographer Edward J Pei still look impressive. This story is on a smaller scope (and is told in three feature length episodes, not the four of the earlier miniseries). Ostensibly the plot of Streets of Laredo is a western staple, a manhunt across a west already made smaller by the crisscrossing railways and growing towns, although below the border in Mexico is still wild, untamed country. However, as Streets of Laredo was based on the novel by Larry McMurtry (and McMurtry and Diana Ossana wrote the screenplay), the manhunt is secondary to the finely drawn characters. Indeed, this miniseries returns to the leisurely pace of the first film with lots of dialogue and well-rounded characters who are introduced gradually; all have families and clear motivation for what they do, even minor characters such as Billy (George Carlin). In addition, Streets of Laredo adds real people, hanging Judge Roy Bean (Ned Beatty) and John Wesley Hardin into the story, although the fates of those characters in the film are not consistent with their fates in the historical record.

     In playing Woodrow Call, James Garner has big shoes to fill, following Tommy Lee Jones and Jon Voight, but does an excellent job. However, this Woodrow is really a different character to that of the earlier series; as written he is a more straight forward character, a killer, and a man who cannot, or will not, change as the west changes around him, the anguish about his prior life and his relationship with his son Newt in the earlier films absent. This Woodrow Call is also far more loquacious and a conversationalist than the earlier models, with far more to say for himself and to others. Lorena is also a totally different person to her character in Lonesome Dove (where she was played by Diane Lane). There she was vulnerable, illiterate and dependent, now she is a schoolteacher and, as played by the excellent Sissy Spacek, far more determined, self-reliant and self-sufficient. Lorena is not the only self-reliant woman in the film: Maria, Joey’s mother, who has a reason to hate Call going back years, is both fierce and determined; both women surviving when less strong women fall away in what is very clearly a man’s world.

     Although it retains some of the same characters as Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo’s themes and execution (not to mention actors) is really nothing to do with that miniseries. Indeed, those expecting the scale and grandeur of Lonesome Dove will be let down. Streets of Laredo is a different type of story altogether and it is probably best to forget about the earlier story and characterisations and to enjoy the characters in Streets of Laredo in their own. For, on its own terms, Streets of Laredo is an excellent western that is well worth viewing; a tragic story about family, tragedy and death in a west that was rapidly changing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Streets of Laredo is in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

     The video varies. Filmed in location in Texas, some exteriors of the deserts, buffs, rivers, scrub and dusty towns and villages are sharp with strong detail, others are quite soft. Interiors also vary; some are very glary indeed when the source of light windows is behind the character. Colours, especially the blue of the sky or the red of sunrise and sunset, are deep and vivid, while the desert scenes are dull and dusty, which is to be expected. Blacks are solid and shadow detail good, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent. There are regular small artefacts and some motion blur, with noise prevalent in some darker scenes such as 1:36 in episode 1 and 6:08 in episode 2.

     No subtitles are provided.

     The layer change on both discs was not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192; it is surround encoded.

     The audio is fine. Dialogue is clean and the effects, such as gunshots, galloping horses or horses splashing through streams, are loud and clear. The surrounds featured some ambient sounds, such as rain, but more usually the music. The score by David Shire is haunting and effective, supporting the visuals well.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     No extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This release of Streets of Laredo is part of the 8 disc Lonesome Dove: Four Miniseries Collection (see details in the summary section below). Streets of Laredo has been released elsewhere as a stand-alone DVD and as part of various Lonesome Dove DVD collections; some collections are similar to our release but are very pricey, others have the 4 series on single DVDs. The most complete set available, if you can get it, is the Australian Region Free 16 disc Lonesome Dove: Ultimate Collection which includes the same 4 films we have plus the 2008 prequel Comanche Moon and the 21 episodes of the TV series. Our 8 disc release from ViaVision is reasonably priced for this collection of four mini-series.

Summary

     Streets of Laredo is fine storytelling; ostensibly a manhunt the film is really about family and the decline of the old west with finely drawn and well-rounded characters, including strong women, lots of good dialogue, death and tragedy. Although based on a novel by Larry McMurtry and with his characters from Lonesome Dove, these are very different people and it is probably best to forget about the earlier story and to enjoy the characters in Streets of Laredo on their own terms.

    The video and audio are acceptable, the extras are non-existent.

     The three feature length episodes of Streets of Laredo are split over two DVDs. The series is included in the 8 DVD Lonesome Dove: Four Miniseries Collection from ViaVision together with Lonesome Dove (1989), Return to Lonesome Dove (1993) and Dead Man’s Walk (1996).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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