Last November I bought the Eureka Entertainment/Masters of Cinema Bluray of Howard Hawks‘ Red River (’48). I mostly hated it — at best it looked unexceptional and too much of it was covered in Egyptian mosquito grain. Three days ago I bought Criterion’s Red River Bluray. I naturally expected it to be just as grainy as the Masters of Cinema version…how could it not be? No other video distributor has worn the grain badge more proudly or persistently than Criterion. Their devotion to grain structure (a high-falutin’ term that basically means “presence of digital mosquitoes”) has caused me much anguish over the years. Anyway, I popped in the Criterion Red River and…astonishing. It has next to no bothersome grain, and the images seem deeper, sharper, cleaner. By my sights it’s certainly more handsomely realized than the Masters of Cinema version. The details are delightful, magnificent. I’m genuinely surprised. Hats off to the Criterion team. Oh, and I didn’t like (and will never again watch) the somewhat shorter version which Walter Brennan narrates. I don’t care if Hawks preferred this version. I know what’s best.