The Night of the Grizzly (Olive Signature) Blu-ray Review: An Enjoyable, Classic Western

Clint Walker is a commanding, comforting presence on screen.
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The Night of the Grizzly tells the story of "Big Jim" Cole (Clint Walker), a former lawman, who along with his family plan to make a new life for themselves in Wyoming on ranch land Jim has inherited.  Not only does he have to contend with wealthy rancher Jed Curry (Keenan Wynn), who used to own the property and wants it back, but also a bear named Satan that is terrorizing the area by killing animals.

The bear causes so much damage Curry puts up a reward. Jim desparately needs the money but the bounty brings to town Cass (Leo Gordon), who turns out to be a former deputy of Jim's.  Cass holds a grudge because he ended up jailed for two years because Jim testified against his reckless ways while executing his duties.

Although released in 1966, during the decade when the Revisionist Western became a major subgenre, The Night of the Grizzly has the feel of a traditional western from the '50s.  The characters are as they appear, either on the side of right or wrong, with almost no moral ambiguity.  Thankfully, Warren Douglas' script is not as simple and straightforward.  The plot complicates for Jim in believable, but not obvious ways. In addition to the outside forces challenging him, Jim's wife and son complicate matters for him. 

Walker is a commanding, comforting presence on screen, and it's evident why he had the title role in the TV series Cheyenne for years.  Wynn is in fine form as the two-faced antagonist.  There is good comic relief from supporting member Nancy Kulp as Wilhelmina Peterson, the general store owner who is attracted to Jim's friend Sam (Don Haggerty).       

The Olive Signature Blu-ray has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.  The earth tones of the landscape come through is solid hues.  The image is clean, free of damage and defect, and offers very good depth and clarity.  Grain is apparent.  The audio comes in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  It's a satisfactory track that delivers clear dialogue and adequate music and effects.   

Extras include a comprehensive audio commentary by film historian Toby Roan. "Blood on the Claw: How Cheyenne Bodie Became a Movie Star," an essay by C. Courtney Joyner appears as text and also in the accompanying booklet.  "The Legend of Big Jim Cole" (HD, 26 min) is as interview with Clint Walker recorded for the previous release.  He says this is his favorite film and he talks about its making.  The fireplace is blurred to hide the crew recording it.  "The Night of the Grizzly World Premiere Footage" (1080i, 6 min) is archival material from Palm Springs 1966, which includes a cocktail party at The Tennis Club before moving to the local theater.  "At Home with Clint Walker and His Home Gymnasium" (HD, 12 min) is an archival interview with Walker.  He talking about his hobbies, such as skiing and woodworking, the latter of which allowed him to build a rack for the former, before showing off his gym equipment.

The Night of the Grizzly is an enjoyable, classic western for the whole family, and the Olive Signature Blu-ray contains a pleasing HD presentation. 

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