Blu-Ray Review: Man Without a Star

After his big breakthrough in boxing drama Champion at the end of the 1940s, Kirk Douglas spent the next decade at the top of his game. One of the biggest film stars in the world and hot Hollywood property. By 1955, he had broken away from Warner Brother, establishing his own production company; Bryna Productions. At the same time, he was still making films for the big studios. Starring in Man Without a Star for Universal Pictures.

Dempsey Rae (Douglas) is a stowaway on a train to Kansas City. Jeff Jimson (William Campbell) is caught doing the same thing, but the older man takes pity, rescuing him from certain death. The young Texan sees him as a role model and the pair bond. When they reach their destination, they decide to stay together and take work at a huge local ranch run by a determined new owner (Jeanne Crain). Her plan to triple her head of cattle and graze them on open range triggers a war with local ranchers.

Man Without a Star is a fairly standard western which acts as a star vehicle for Douglas. He revels in this freedom, putting on a fine song and dance while running through a gamut of emotions and acting styles. There’s much to ponder in King Vidor’s film, not least the rather open-ended questions it raises about right or wrong. Ownership and property. The corporate capitalism which will eventually spark an economic boom. In this way, Man Without a Star is a rather progressive piece of filmmaking.

Special features:

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • Uncompressed original mono audio
  • Optional English SDH
  • Brand new audio commentary with writers Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman
  • Brand new interview with film scholar Neil Sinyard
  • Trailer
  • A collector’s booklet featuring a new essay on the film by film writer Rich Johnson, and a new piece by critic Richard Combs about the Western films of King Vidor

Man Without a Star is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on 15 August.  

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