Paramount Home Entertainment International (PHEI) and Batjac Productions, Inc. will honor the great John Wayne at the Cannes International Film Festival next month with the premiere of the 1953 classic film Hondo, recently restored in digital 3D. The screening will take place in the week that would have been 'the Duke's' 100th birthday (May 26, 1907). It will be attended by Gretchen Wayne, President and Owner of Batjac Productions, Inc.
The Cannes Classics screening will be the kick-off event for the international launch of Paramount's and Batjac's prestigious collection of John Wayne's classic films including Special Collector's Edition DVDs of Hondo, The High & the Mighty, Island in the Sky and McLintock!, which are new to DVD, as well as True Grit, The Shootist, Hatari, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, In Harm's Way, among others. Other Batjac titles being released internationally for the first time on DVD include 7 Men from Now, Plunder of the Sun, Track of the Cat, Man in the Vault and Ring of Fear.
"The 3D screening of HONDO at Cannes is one of those one-of-a-kind events my late father-in-law would have loved," said Gretchen Wayne. "It has also been very exciting to see the enthusiastic reception his fans are giving the DVDs."
"We are very grateful to Cannes for giving us this opportunity to pay tribute to the legacy and legend of John Wayne in this spectacular way," said Dennis Maguire, President, Paramount Home Entertainment International.
The Hondo restoration and history
Hondo has been meticulously restored and remastered three times by Batjac Productions, Inc. from the original and authentic film elements: first on film for a VHS release, second in a digital format for DVD release and, most recently, in digital 3D for Cannes.
In the early 1990's, Michael Wayne worked with Cinetech to restore the film in preparation for a VHS release in the United States and the UK. More than 10 years later, Paramount required a new digital master for the DVD release. Barry Allen, Paramount's film restoration expert leveraged the work that Michael did and took advantage of emerging digital restoration techniques. After additional color correction work and digital "dirt busting", a crisp and clean new master was created and served as the source for this summer's international DVD release
For the digital 3D version screening at Cannes, Batjac went back to the drawing board and cherry picked the best of all elements, restored and original, to serve as source elements. This work was all consuming in that both the left and right eye needed to be restored. The digital technology process had advanced exponentially since the DVD master, so even better master elements could be created. Processes used were DRS, DVNR, AGR4 and Da Vinci's ACSIII program. The final product will be airing on a traditional white screen and audiences will be viewing the 3D film with white active polarized glasses.
The man who became the embodiment of the great American western hero was born Marion Robert Morrison 100 years ago in Winterset, Iowa. John Wayne first worked in the film business as a laborer on the Fox lot during summer vacations from U.S.C., which he attended on a football scholarship. He met and was befriended by John Ford, a young director who was beginning to make a name for himself in action films, comedies and dramas. It was Ford who recommended Wayne to director Raoul Walsh for the male lead in the 1930 epic Western The Big Trail, and, although it was a box office failure, the movie showed Wayne's potential.
For the next nine years, Wayne worked in a multitude of B-Westerns and serials in between bit parts in larger features. Wayne's big break came in 1939, when Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid in the adventure Stagecoach. Wayne nearly stole the picture from his more seasoned co-stars, and his career as a box-office superstar began. During his 50 year film career, Wayne played the lead in 142 movies, an as yet unsurpassed record, and was nominated for three Academy Awards®, winning the Best Actor award in 1970 for his performance in True Grit.
Apache war drums sound an ominous warning for an isolated female rancher and her son. Wayne plays Hondo Lane, a cavalry rider who becomes the designated protector of the strong-willed Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page) as well as a father figure to her boy, Johnny (Lee Aaker). Angie, determinedly awaiting the return of her brutish husband (Leo Gordon), refuses to leave their homestead despite the growing danger from nearby warring Native American tribes. And she finds herself growing more and more enthralled with this stranger, Hondo - a man hardened by experience but still capable of sympathy, kindness and love.
Based on the Louis L'Amour story, "The Gift of the Cochise," Hondo is a Western in the best tradition of the frontier genre. In it, Wayne, who also produced the film, stars as the title character, a hard-bitten half-Indian cavalry scout whose only companion is an ill-tempered dog. With a poetic and exciting script by James Edward Grant, and outstanding performances from a great ensemble cast, the film also features Ward Bond, Michael Pate, James Arness and breathtaking locales. Hondo earned two 1954 Oscar® nominations - a Best Supporting Actress nod for Page in her theatrical debut and one for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story.