Mike’s Picks: ‘The Far Country’ and ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s’

The Far Country

MVD/Arrow, Western, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars James Stewart, Ruth Roman, Corinne Calvet, Walter Brennan.
1954.
Though his infectious smile directed mostly at Walter Brennan goes a long way to defuse this perception, The Far Country surprises a little by casting James Stewart as a real hard-ass with some unattractive traits, given that his character hasn’t been personally wronged the way he is in some of the other Stewart-Anthony Mann Westerns.
Extras: Includes a substantive Philip Kemp essay (nice still photos, too); a commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin; the always amusing Kim Newman on both the film and other Mann Westerns; and another documentary on Mann and Universal.
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The Bells of St. Mary’s

Olive, Drama, $27.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers.
1945.
Olive Films’ much appreciated “Signature” upgrade of director Leo McCarey’s The Bells of St. Mary’s offers a lovely visual rendering.
Extras: Features a voiceover commentary by Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins, a featurette about the film at hand in relation to McCarey; an on-screen essay by Abbey Bender, and a discussion of Bells’ prequel/sequel status from effervescent Prof. Emily Carman.
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