Blu-ray: The Grey Fox

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Phillip Borsos | CAST: Richard Farnsworth, Jackie Burroughs, Ken Pogue, Wayne Robson, Timothy Webber, Samantha Langevin
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 8, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $13.99, Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: commentary, interviews, restoration featurette, more
SPECS: PG | 92 min. | Western drama romance | 1.85:1 | DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

Much admired but rarely seen over the last 25 years, 1982’s The Grey Fox gallops onto the home market in a new 4K restoration glory, looking spiffy and reaffirming that it’s reputation as an under-the-radar treasure of the western genre is well-earned.

Actually, The Grey Fox is a “Northwestern,” a film set in British Columbia the early part of the 20th century. That’s where Bill Miner (Richard Farnsworth, Comes a Horseman) lands after spending decades in San Quentin prison. He’s been infamously tagged “The Gentleman Bandit,” and has made his reputation by politely robbing stagecoaches throughout the west. Thinking about going straight, Miner’s better intentions are re-routed after he watches the silent film The Great Train Robbery in a theater. Now in his senior years, Miner heads back into a life of crime with a few new cronies joining him. Meanwhile, a new romantic partner, a photographer (Jackie Burroughs, A Winter Tan) with a modern, feminist-like philosophy, is hoping he decides to settle down.

This Canadian production was helmed by Phillip Borsos (The Man Season, One Magic Christmas), an Australian raised in Canada whose career was sadly cut short due to his demise from leukemia in his early 40s. Though the film scores as a a methodical character study that touches on essential themes of many of the great westerns, it’s the filmmaker’s attention to period detail that makes it unique and fresh. The cinematography by Frank Tidy is gorgeous, capturing stunning location work from the Canadian Northwest and Washington state. And at the center of it all is Farnsworth, a one-time stuntman, whose quietly powerful work here captures both his character’s lived-in quality and his desire for a fresh life in a new century.

The Grey Fox was scheduled for a theatrical release by Kino Lorber this past summer, but because of Covid, it went the “virtual cinema” route instead. This is a shame because the film should really be seen in theaters, but the company is offering its impressive restoration with a nice group of extras. Director Alex Cox (Repo Man), a sagebrush aficionado, offers a poetic audio commentary, namechecking such films as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Gunfighter and Once Upon a Time in the West, as well as sharing his enthusiasm for the director and cinematographer’s artistry throughout. Also included are segments on the film’s score, a brief look at The Grey Fox’s restoration by Kino Lorber’s Bret Wood and an insightful interview with producer Peter O’Brian, who offers anecdotes about the film’s production, including the story about how the wonderful Farnsworth came to replace original actor Harry Dean Stanton in the title role.

Buy or Rent The Grey Fox

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.