Warner Bros. Home Entertainment continues to surprise with the release of rare film vault treasures. Last week it was news for Bob Hope (A Global Affair), the week before it was Lucille Ball (Five Came Back) and this week it is the July 7 DVD debut of auteur filmmaker Samuel Fuller’s 1957 Western masterpiece, Run of the Arrow.
Filmed in Technicolor and shot on location in the St. George area of Utah, Run of the Arrow stars Rod Steiger as O'Meara, an ex-Confederate soldier who becomes completely alienated from not only society in general, but his own family. His mother even smacks him a good one for showing disrespect for the assassination of president Lincoln.
His solution is to renounce the United States and head west to Sioux territory. His first encounter does not go well and he must survive a life or death test (the title of film), which he does — otherwise Run of the Arrow would have been a rather short film.
Steiger was just coming into his own as an actor with high profile roles in both On the Waterfront (his first Oscar nomination) and Oklahoma, so working with Fuller (who wrote, directed and produced) was a big deal. This is not a “routine” Western from the period, but a complex narrative that deals with blind hatred, identity (post-Korean War disillusionment) and religion.
These subjects aside, the film also works as an action film, with Steiger falling in love with Yellow Moccasin (Sara Montiel — Vera Cruz, Serenade, etc.), joining the tribe — yes, that’s Charles Bronson as Blue Buffalo — and then, when all hell breaks loose, he is nearly crippled with guilt over divided loyalties.
The film is exceptionally brutal (for the period) — a precursor to the Wild Bunch — with Ralph Meeker’s character literally skinned alive and noted for Fuller’s inventive use of “blood packs” for the first time in a film.
Also making its DVD debut on July 7 is Lawman: The Complete First Season (a five-disc collection), featuring all 39 episodes from the 1958/1959 broadcast season.
Tough guy John Russell (Fair Wind to Java, The Last Command, Rio Bravo) stars as His young deputy is played by Peter Brown (Merrill's Marauders, Ride the Wild Surf, Kitten with a Whip, etc.) and Peggy Castle (Miracle in the Rain, Wagons West) as saloon keeper Lily Merrill — after several attempts that failed miserably to cast a female lead (they all come and go during this first season) — settled in as Troop’s love-interest.Marshall Dan Troop, a laconic, no-nonsense lawman who takes on the vacancy in Laramie, Wyoming when the previous Marshall is murdered.
First season guest stars include Edd Byrnes, Martin Landau, Mike Connors, Dorothy Provine and a young Louise Fletcher.
Also added to the release calendar this week by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment are both DVD and Blu-ray collections of The Leftovers: The Complete First Season. The street date selected for the debut of this “mystery” series (two percent of the world’s population has simply vanished) is Oct. 6.
Bonus features include commentary for the both the pilot episode and the first-season finale, plus three production featurettes — “I Remember: A Season One Conversation with Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta,” “Secrets of the Guilty Remnant” and “Beyond the Book: A Look Ahead at Season 2.”