Paint Your Wagon

Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, Ray Walston
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

’Paint Your Wagon’ is the delightful 1969 musical romp based on the Broadway play and set during the California Gold Rush of 1850. Lee Marvin plays wily and rambunctious Ben Rumson who teams up with reserved Michigan farmer Pardner (Clint Eastwood) to mine gold and share a wife (Jean Seberg) – at her suggestion. Filmed against the breathtaking backdrop of the unspoiled Sierra Nevada, the film is full of grubby prospectors unabashedly belting out catchy musical numbers, especially Marvin and Eastwood. Sure, they’re not the best vocalists around, but their gallant attempts are key to the charm and characterization of the production. Spiced with plenty of wry humor and risqué innuendos, the film is highly satisfying and suitable for the entire family. Watch for the wonderful performance by Ray Walston (TV’s favorite Martian) as the incorrigible Mad Jack Duncan as he schemes and stomps along with the rest of the all-male population of No-Name City.

Paramount Home Video releases this treasured production to DVD in a stunning anamorphic widescreen transfer that reinstates its proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The source print is the cleanest I’ve seen in years, which makes for a transfer that crisp and vibrant without any noticeable defects. The color is rich and true, delivering deep blue skies, lush terrain, and natural flesh tones. With deep blacks, balanced contrast and remarkable detail, it’s obvious the team at Paramount gave this transfer the attention and care it so richly deserves.

Just when you think a good disc couldn’t possibly get better, it does, thanks to an incredibly vibrant 5.1channel Dolby Digital remix. Beginning with the title song, the orchestrations on the track are so energetic and dimensional that you’d swear you’ve been seated smack dab in the middle of the orchestra pit. The surround channels also deliver plenty of ambient noise and directional effects that further envelop you in the on-screen hi-jinks yet the dialog is never upstaged or obscured. Also included is a well-balanced English Dolby Surround track and a French Dolby mono track, too.

The only noted extra on the disc is the original widescreen theatrical trailer, but there’s a couple of nifty little add-ins that I found to be particularly pleasing. Midway through the film you’ll find the original theatrical intermission break as well as the full-length theatrical exit music that plays to a dark screen. Perhaps not very exciting to some, these are the sorts of things I find add completeness and authenticity to the source material.

Overall, ’Paint Your Wagon’ is great fun made even better by a terrific transfer. Stake your claim on a copy today.