The Night of the Grizzly: Signature Blu-ray Review

Clint Walker’s beloved Western offers wholesome family appeal

The Night of the Grizzly is classic family entertainment under the guise of a Western. Having made a name for himself as the star of Cheyenne on television, Clint Walker was already a household name when this film premiered in 1966. Walker personally shepherded its development and the movie ended up being his favorite project. A killer grizzly bear terrorizes a former lawman and his family when they move to an old ranch in Wyoming.

Jim Cole is a rugged, former lawman that has inherited a ranch near the small town of Hope. The powerfully built man is known as ‘Big Jim’ to friends and family. Cole leads his family there looking for a new start. Along for the ride are his wife Angela (Martha Hyer), their two young children Charlie and Gypsy, Jim’s niece Meg, and Jim’s close companion Sam Potts (Don Haggerty). They arrive to discover the ranch is in sorry condition. A local businessman by the name of Jed Curry has a strong interest in purchasing the run-down ranch.

Jim and his family decide to make a go of it, quickly making friends in the nearby town and a couple of enemies. The biggest threat to their ranch is a killer grizzly that has run amok across the area. Nicknamed ‘Satan’ by the locals, the grizzly has become a feared presence around town. When the grizzly wipes out Cole’s livestock, his dream of permanently settling down at the ranch comes under fire. As Big Jim’s life is put on the line defending his family from the grizzly, Angela starts questioning the wisdom of staying.

Tinged with adventure, humor and a wholesome appeal to people of all ages, the cozy Western is a charmer

They simply don’t make films like The Night of the Grizzly anymore in Hollywood. Tinged with adventure, humor and a wholesome appeal to people of all ages, the cozy Western is a charmer. The slickly written narrative nicely builds up the tension between Jim and the grizzly, throwing in unexpected obstacles along the way. It’s not a simple adventure plot since Jim is fending off a financial crisis and the return of someone from his past as the grizzly roams free.

The taut script doesn’t have an ounce of fat to it. The cast features a litany of veteran performers including Jack Elam (Hannie Caulder), Keenan Wynn (Once Upon a Time in the West), Leo Gordon (Hondo) and Ron Ely. This is a perfectly breezy Western with real sentiment and heart to it.

Setting the tone for later television fare like The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie, its keen focus on the family’s charming inner dynamics is crucial. From the adorable Gypsy, Jim’s young daughter, to beloved family friend Sam Potts, the characters have a magical chemistry. It is a classic formula done with care that has proved popular with audiences for many years.

With adventure, love, thrilling danger and a loving family, this remains a classic movie. It’s a captivating portrait of life and death for a family living on the frontier, making their dream come true.

The Night of the Grizzly Blu-ray screen shot 9

Video

Olive Films double dips on The Night of the Grizzly with this fabulous Signature Edition release licensed from Paramount Pictures. Boasting a completely new restoration, it’s an excellent upgrade with a strong transfer. The 1966 film runs 102 minutes on a BD-50, encoded in AVC averaging nearly 35 Mbps. Shot on the cheaper Techniscope format in Technicolor, the film-like presentation is correctly framed at 2.35:1. Struck from the negative in a new scan, it’s a major improvement in video quality with more texture and pure resolution.

The 1080P video offers a clean presentation from stable, colorful elements. The new color grading features pleasing saturation levels in warm tones. Its strong contrast and deep black levels help etch palpable dimensionality. This is an older film with excellent visible detail, seen here in unfiltered quality. Some minor optical ringing appear as halos in the opening reel. They largely go away as the video becomes sharper and more defined afterwards.

There aren’t any complaints that can be leveled against this new film transfer. It’s a faithful replication of the Techniscope film stock in lavish HD quality. The Night of the Grizzly has never looked better in any format since its premiere.

Audio

The soundtrack is heard in solid 2.0 DTS-HD MA. The lossless mono audio heavily reflects the film’s highly polished pedigree as a studio Western from the 1960s. The studios had basically perfected the recording process by this time with hundreds of Westerns made on Hollywood sets.

This movie includes clean, intelligible dialogue delivered in crisp fashion. The score by composer Leith Stevens provides a stirring accompaniment to the action and drama. The mix offers a big, punchy soundstage with some bass.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in white, remaining inside the scope framing.

Extras

Olive Films continues their Signature line with fancy packaging and a full set of new special features. The solo commentary is perfunctory but offers decent trivia. The real meat is the wonderful interview with Clint Walker. It’s an extended featurette well worth watching for fans.

The classy package includes a slipcase with a clear BD case inside. The 8-page booklet offers new art and an essay by C. Courtney Joyner. They definitely stepped up their game for the Signature line with compelling special features and good design.

Audio Commentary by film historian Toby Roan – A dry but informative discussion on the film, providing cast notes and other points of interest.

“The Legend of Big Jim Cole” – Interview with Clint Walker (26:16 in HD) – This recent interview has the star fondly recalling his castmates as he looks back. This movie ended up being his favorite of the ones he did. Walker talks about the development process and what the studio shot down while filming.

The Night of the Grizzly’s World Premiere Archival Footage (06:12 in upscaled HD) – A fascinating piece in color showing footage with Clint Walker at the premiere. Made to promote the film near the time of its original release, it has a wonderfully dated announcer talking over the footage. They wouldn’t get away today with the blatant sexism heard in this featurette.

“At Home with Clint Walker and His Home Gymnasium” (12:03 in HD) – An archival interview with actor Clint Walker obviously cut for promotional purposes. Clint demonstrates his bodybuilding hobby on his own equipment. Clint was one of the first Hollywood stars to embrace weightlifting and looks the part.

“Blood on the Claw: How Cheyenne Bodie Became a Movie Star” – A text essay on the film by C. Courtney Joyner. This is identical to the essay found in the included booklet.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full-resolution 1080P screenshots taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered during the process. Patreon supporters are able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.