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106
4.7 out of 5 stars
Lonesome Dove [1989] [DVD]
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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Conventional wisdom had it that the Western was dead when after years of false starts, Lonesome Dove finally made it to the screen. Starting life as a 1971 screenplay for John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda before becoming a best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, it was even briefly mooted as a possible vehicle for Redford and Newman as the two former Texas Rangers who go on one last cattle drive, but was deemed too risky for the big screen. The end result was certainly worth the long wait, earning huge ratings and a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest television Westerns ever made.

True, the first episode is a bit slow as the characters mull over the wisdom of a cattle drive at their time of life, but the time spent getting to know the large ensemble pays off: by the time they leave the dead-end town of Lonesome Dove we know enough about them to genuinely care about their fate over the long and dangerous journey, giving us a Western that's not only thrilling but often genuinely touching. It's a beautifully produced saga, with fine performances from most of the cast - particularly Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones - strikingly directed, often breathtakingly shot and boasting one of Basil Poledouris' most beautiful scores.

So why only three stars? Well, unfortunately though the original DVD release needed remastering, this new edition rather botches the job. The picture quality is better, but unforgiveably the image has been cropped from its original fullframe to widescreen, making a travesty of the original framing and often losing detail in several scenes. So, for the time being at least, the choice is between a poor older edition in the right ratio or a clearer image but less of it on this new edition. A real crying shame...
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
That durable screen legend John Wayne made two big mistakes towards the end of his career. He unsurprisingly turned down the role of Pike Bishop in "The Wild Bunch", one of the finest westerns ever made, but a far more visceral vision of the west than Wayne had ever acted in. He also spurned the opportunity to play the part of Woodrow F Call in the mooted film "The Streets of Laredo" based on a screenplay by Larry McMurtry. The film, to have been directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who made the very good "The Last Picture Show"(71), was also to have starred James Stewart and Henry Fonda. I recall reading of this mouthwatering prospect at the time. On Wayne's refusal the project fell apart. Instead he went on to make a number of mediocre westerns with a couple of notable exceptions. The exceptions were films where he left his comfort zone, which is exactly what "The Streets of Laredo" would have required. The very realistic portrayal of McMurty's frontier west much like "The Wild Bunch" was possibly a step too far for him. Instead, far from finished, McMurtry developed the screenplay into his glorious epic novel of the west "Lonesome Dove". It stands as perhaps the finest novel set in the old west that has ever been written. I have yet to read better. It deservedly won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 1986. It is thought to be loosely based on the lives of two cattlemen called Goodnight and Loving who made a similar epic cattle drive. The film "Red River" is also thought to be based on their lives. The book encompasses far more than any feature film could hope to cover. At last in 1989 it was made into an expensive all star, no expense spared TV series which was able to do full justice to the book.

A superb cast was assembled. Tommy Lee Jones took on the part of the taciturn and tough Call and Robert Duvall played his close friend Augustus McCrae. Both actors were perfectly cast in their roles. Jones has the ready made features of the granite like Call and Duvall simply was McCrae. Duvall effortlessly played similar veteran cowboy roles in "Broken Trail"(06) and "Open Range"(04). He had come a long way since his early role as a villain in "True Grit"(69). Diane Lane took the major role of Lorena Wood the whore beloved by all, and Angelica Huston also appeared. The story is very much centred around the two veteran ex Texas rangers and their relationship. Gus extrovert and outgoing whilst Call is quiet and withdrawn, harbouring some deep secret from the past. They decide to undertake a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. It is a trip that requires tough men for the job as there are many hazards to negotiate. This includes hostile Indians and renegade Comancheros. Blue Duck the main villain of the piece is one of these, and is a villain to match any from the darkest fairy tales. Other characters are brought in, and sub plots develop when one is kidnapped. It is interesting when a sheriff and his deputy called July Johnson and Roscoe are brought into the story. McMurtry admired the film "Bandolero"(68) where there is a sheriff and his deputy of the same names. This hard land brings death and despair for many. There is action aplenty.

Having read the book I was not expecting too much of the series but I was in for a surprise. It picks up the flavour of the book perfectly and is a triumph on all fronts. The old west could be a cruel and unforgiving place. To survive you had to be as tough as the land. Call and Gus are from that mould. They are the good guys, but on the hunt for the bad guys there is steel in their eyes and they are to be reckoned with. The ending is particularly poignant, where we see Call suffer much like one of Sam Peckinpah's crucified heroes. We see him unravel and become human. He becomes his own judge and jury and stoically suffers the punishment inflicted on himself, all for love and the hope of forgiveness. This series is a towering achievement that does a magnificent book full justice. A must see. I was happy with the picture quality and did not notice any problems, but then I am happy watching dodgy old black and white VHS westerns on a creaky recorder. My apologies for a longer review than normal but this epic series deserves the full treatment. The only excuse that I can offer is that I am passionate about the subject matter.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Playing the Texas Ranger turned cattleman, Gus McRae, this is unquestionably Robert Duval's greatest acting achievement. Had this adaptation of Larry McMurtry's award-winning novel been made for the Big Screen rather than television, it would have garnered every major Academy Award for that year. It's also every bit as good as the book, if not better.

In my opinion, this is the finest vision of the mythical American West ever put on film. It has everything: flawed good guys, horrific bad guys, Indian fights, shootouts, the hooker with a Heart of Gold, rustlers, a danger-filled cattle drive, hangings, lost loves, loyalty of friendship, cowardice, bravery, tragedy, drama, humor. The cynic will say that the film is simply a compilation of clichés. However, everything is tied together so wonderfully by Duval and a magnificent supporting cast, spectacular cinematography, authentic period costuming, and a soundtrack to knock your socks off, that it's hard to object even if you realize your emotions are being shamelessly manipulated.

I've plugged the DVD of this epic into the player more times than I can count. If you've never seen it, have a box of Kleenex handy, and indulge your senses.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Playing the Texas Ranger turned cattleman, Gus McRae, this is unquestionably Robert Duval's greatest acting achievement. Had this adaptation of Larry McMurtry's award-winning novel been made for the Big Screen rather than television, it would have garnered very major Academy Award for that year. It's also every bit as good as the book, if not better.
In my opinion, this is the finest vision of the mythical American West ever put on film. It has everything: flawed good guys, horrific bad guys, Indian fights, shootouts, the hooker with a Heart of Gold, rustlers, a danger-filled cattle drive, hangings, lost loves, loyalty of friendship, cowardice, bravery, tragedy, drama, humor. The cynic will say that the film is simply a compilation of clichés. However, everything is tied together so wonderfully by Duval and a magnificent supporting cast, spectacular cinematography, authentic period costuming, and a soundtrack to knock your socks off, that it's hard to object even if you realize your emotions are being shamelessly manipulated.
I've plugged the video tape of this epic into the VCR more times than I can count. If you've never seen it, rent it this weekend, have a box of Kleenex handy, and indulge your senses.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2004
Abrilliant western featuring an all star cast, stunning sets and superb screenplay, the story follows the often violent adventures of Captain Augustus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and the sullen Captain WoodrowF. Call (Tommy Lee Jones), two agingformer Texas Rangers, and thier epic cattle drive from the tiny Texas town of Lonesome Dove to the fertile expanse of the Montana territory.
Never has a western received such acclaim.
Lonesome Dove is the definitive Western, A tale of enduring bonds of friendship, the undying power of love and the inevitable price of the American dream.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I like Westerns if they're a little bit special and this one certainly gets top marks. The scenery is outstanding, the directing is spot on and the acting is the best. This film has many excellent actors and with 2 of my favourites in Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones playing each other off at every given opportunity and the very pretty and talented Diane Lane in the lead female role I couldn't ask for more.I always thought Duvall played an exceptional but under-rated part in The Godfather. In Open Range, another "old style" but equally good Western which I would recommend, he played alongside Kevin Costner.I hate the word "star" because nowadays it is over-used but I can watch almost any film any of these named are in.Superb.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2011
I was really looking forward to this Western, as i had read so many positive things about it on Amazon. So, after viewing it for the first time i feel deflated.

The reason for this maybe was because the DVD sound was poor and there were no English subtitles, so you could make sure you understood all that they were saying. Therefore, because one was concentrating on what they were saying,one could not relax and get into the depth of the story.

Having said the above, the acting, scenery and music score were good and Robert Duvall,in particular, gave a brilliant performance.So far though, i enjoyed "Centennial", "The Culpepper Cattle Co" and "The Jack Bull" far more.

I shall be watching it a second time to see if i respond in the same manner as most Amazon reviewers, but wish to comment that all DVD's should have English subtitles
if there are strong accents.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 March 2007
Sublime casting and faithful dramatisation. It was wonderful to see everything from this exciting, colourful story come alive on the screen exactly as I had imagined it. There is nothing about this not to like and if you are prejudiced against Westerns, give it a go anyway!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2013
What a great film. It's not what you'd call a typical western, but it's got a bit of everything. Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall play a couple of old, retired Texas Rangers who decide to make a last long journey away from the dusty, two-horse town where they've settled, and drive a herd of cattle and horses north and west where they've heard there's good grazing land and money to be made. They end up with an eclectic mix of drivers, cooks, cowhands, ex-soldiers and a pretty girl, and the story follows them as they trek across the US, haunted by renegade Indians, chasing bandits and dealing with the internal squabbles and relationships of the group. I don't want to give away any of the story, but the relationship between Duvall and Jones holds it all together, as we gradually learn about their past, and their life-long friendship. There are a number of other sub-plots interwoven with the main theme as well. Tommy Lee Jones is superb as the hard, grumpy, private, driven leader of the group, but for me Robert Duvall tops it with a performance that has everything that he brings to just about any role he plays: quiet confidence, gentle humour, great feeling and real depth. I remember seeing this on TV when it first came out as a mini-series, and it was good. But I didn't realise how good until I bought it and watched it recently. If you're after an all-action thriller then maybe it's not for you. But if you want a warm, thoughtful, sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, occasionally violent but overall heart-warming and enjoyable film, you might just enjoy this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2011
I loved the TV series back in the day, and fancied the DVD set, but it didn't have subtitles, and I'm getting a bit harder of hearing these days. So I was really pleased to see this bluray set at a good price, and with subs! Although it's from America, it's region-free and plays perfectly in my Region 2/B player. I do have a 1080p HD TV, and the players is connected via HDMI, but I'm not fussy enough or knowlegeable enough to prattle on about the relative quality of the blu-ray images - I have a cheapo Phillips player, it's the only blu-ray player I've had, and I haven't seen the DVD version of the film to make comparisons with: but I was perfectly happy with it, the picture was very clear and detailed.

As for the film itself, it's a lovely poignant story about the changing west, a cattle drive, the hazards encountered, death in various forms, love and loss, friendship, honour, compassion, loyalty, and lots of other things. The scenery is epic, as you'd expect, and Robert Duvall in particular is epic too, in the complexity of his character: Tommy Lee Jones, fine actor though he is, is definitely second fiddle here. A host of quality support players including Danny Glover, Robert Urich, Anjelica Huston, and Diane Lane underline the sheer quality of it all. My only diappointment was when it finished....

If you like westerns, buy this, it is a classic. And, if you haven't already, get Open Range, where Duvall reprises this grizzled but wise old galoot in a performance of similar quality.
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