The Furies appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Very few issues materialized in this satisfying transfer.
For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. I noticed slight softness in a few shots, as some elements appeared slightly ill-defined. Those instances were exceptions, though, as the majority of the flick was pretty tight and nicely delineated. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering marred the presentation, but I noticed some light edge enhancement.
Source flaws were almost totally absent. The rare speck or mark might’ve cropped up, but these were exceedingly minor, especially given the movie’s age. This was a surprisingly clean image.
Contrast usually succeeded, though some exceptions occurred. I thought a few shots came across as too bright, but most of them showed adequate definition. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows seemed fairly good. At times some low-light shots could be a little dense, but they were good in general. The mix of issues knocked down my grade to a “B+“, but I still felt pleased with the transfer.
We got a perfectly adequate monaural soundtrack for The Furies. Like most films of the era, speech sounded somewhat metallic, but the lines always remained easily intelligible, and they lacked notable edginess. Effects were also thin and without much range, but they seemed fairly concise and didn’t suffer from significant distortion.
In terms of music, the score fit in with the rest of the audio. Music was somewhat shrill but reasonably clear and lively. I would’ve liked more low-end, but the results were fine for a flick from 1950. As for source noise, the track sounded a bit hissy but didn’t suffer from any pops, clicks or other distractions. The audio seemed more than acceptable for its age.
When we move to the disc’s supplements, we start with an audio commentary from film historian Jim Kitses. He provides a running, screen-specific track that looks at cast, characters and performances, the adaptation of the source novel, director Anthony Mann’s work and career, themes, tone and interpretation.
The latter topics strongly dominate this commentary. Oh, Kitses throws in the occasional filmmaking nugget and gives us a little information about cast and crew, but the vast majority of the chat looks at a view of the movie with a psychological bent. I suppose this may appeal to some listeners, but in my case, I didn’t much care for it. I enjoy a good examination of a flick’s themes and subtext, but I don’t think Kitses offers a particularly insightful take. He constantly refers to “phallic” symbols and grows tedious pretty quickly. It’s not a bad track, but I’d prefer one that better balances filmmaking issues with interpretation.
Three interview clips follow. Action Speaks Louder Than Words runs 17 minutes, 11 seconds and provides a 1967 interview with director Anthony Mann. He discusses his early career, influences, and some elements of his various movies. Though a fairly general piece, Mann includes a reasonable number of insights into his work. This becomes an informative piece.
Intimate Interviews: Walter Huston goes for eight minutes, 55 seconds. The short comes from a series of big-screen interviews that appeared in the 1930s. That means it has nothing to do with Furies, of course, but it’s a cool historical artifact. Don’t expect much real info, as it’s obviously a staged featurette more than it is an actual interview, but I still like it – especially when Huston hits on the interviewer!
Finally, a 17-minute and 27-second Nina Mann Interview appears. The director’s daughter chats about the director’s life as well as some aspects of The Furies. At times this degenerates into general praise for Anthony Mann’s career and the film, but Nina Mann offers a decent number of insights.
In addition to the film’s Theatrical Trailer, we find a Stills Gallery. 20 photos from the set appear here, along with some captions. Though it’s a short collection, it includes some nice shots.
Two non-disc materials appear here. Of course, we get the standard booklet found in virtually all Criterion DVDs. This one fills 40 pages and includes an essay from film professor Robin Wood as well as a 1957 interview with Anthony Mann. Criterion booklets are always solid, and this is another good one.
Even better, we find a copy of the original novel by author Niven Busch. This isn’t an abridged version; it provides the entire 1948 text. That makes it a very nice addition to the package.
Not many Westerns feature female protagonists, so that emphasis makes The Furies something different. The flick doesn’t just rely on this gimmick to create interest; it gives us a solidly crafted and well-acted film that consistently satisfies. The DVD provides very good picture along with adequate audio and a decent selection of extras that includes the complete novel on which the movie was based. This is a fine film and a solid DVD.