Before the blu-ray of this mid-century matinee classic gets any more badmouthing from the cellphone generation, let's just say that it's doubtful that anyone would undertake an expensive restoration on a new negative or interpositive of a picture like this just for a blu-ray transfer. That said, it's great to have classic wide-gauge film prints transferred to 1080 line progressive, no matter what condition they survive in, and this early Fox Cinemascope print has seen better days - not to mention the fact that some of the coverage shots were poorly matched even during initial release. Movies like this still deserve high-definition treatment, even if it's from "best available" elements, so I'm frankly quite glad to have it. This picture is a fairly quaint swashbuckler, reminiscent of the kind of grand-scale costume pieces that the Hollywood studios put out to compete with TV in the 50's. The casting is superb and the production design remarkably favors the famous Harold Foster comic strip. The only element that has really stood the test of time is Franz Waxman's stunning score, presented here in a compromised stereo (for pro-logic matrixing), instead of the original discrete 4-track magnetic masters originally used for CinemaScope films. The sound on this Blu-ray does include the original panned dialogue, which is often unfavorably centered on later prints.
This presentation is far more blemished than the nearly perfect print of Universal's THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH that EUREKA released prior, but I would request that they continue releasing what early, first-year (1953-54) CinemaScope prints they can license. Some good examples would be: THE EGYPTIAN, KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, BENEATH THE FIVE MILE REEF, DESIREE, GARDEN OF EVIL, RIVER OF NO RETURN, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, etc., etc.