Paramount Home Entertainment has released the John Wayne Centennial collection, a 14-disc boxed set that includes The High and the Mighty. This is the restored version of the film that screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last month (see May news). Now, Warner Home Video has released a two-disc collector’s edition of Rio Bravo in honor of the iconic actor. This is the third restoration of the classic Western. The original faded single-strip color negative presented a technical challenge that called for the latest digital color-correction technology. By all accounts, the restoration is stunning. Days before the collection’s May 26 release, a Los Angeles Times article praised the film (“Rio Bravo deserves a hallelujah”) and quoted film critic Robin Wood: “If I were asked to choose a film that would justify the existence of Hollywood, I think it would be Rio Bravo.”
The Cannes Film Festival, held last month in France, screened the restored film as part of its Cannes Classics program. Home theater enthusiasts will be able to purchase Rio Bravo on high-definition discs, in the competing formats of Blu-ray and HD DVD. The flurry of attention has stirred up renewed interest in Dimitri Tiomkin’s music for the film. Orchestrator Christopher Palmer once described the chamber music–like score as nocturnal and atmospheric. As with High Noon, Tiomkin dispenses with Hollywood film scoring tradition and forgoes violins and violas, instead using plucked low strings (celli and double bass played pizzicato) for rhythmic effect. The Mexican ambience is partly achieved through the instrumentation, which calls for the marimba, guitar, domra (a Russian folk mandolin), harmonica, and the guitaron, a Mexican bass guitar. Palmer points out that the simple, folklike main theme quietly drifts in and out of the film. Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson sing “My Rifle, My Pony and Me” to good effect. The rendition of the song as heard in the film is available on a Bear Family compact disc available from www.amazon.com. A half dozenother Tiomkin songs for Westerns are also on the CD.