Directed by: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach
“When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, you said, the man with a pistol’s a dead man. Let’s see if that’s true. Go ahead, load up and shoot.”
I was lucky enough to actually have my first experience of these films as they were meant to be seen, on the big screen in 35mm. there really was something special about seeing them on a lazy Sunday afternoon one week after another, and in a way, helped me learn a lot about general film technique. As for the blu ray set, there was a previous edition released in 2010, but this edition came with a new 4k re-master of The Good the Bad and the Ugly, so I thought it be best to pick this one up.
“If you miss, you better miss very well.”
The Man with no-name trilogy is one of the best trilogies to have been in existence. How was this you ask? Because of one man Sergio Leone. His flawless directing is still a benchmark for directors due to his excellent camera placement, editing, and cinematography. With that said let’s go into the three films individually.
A Fistful of Dollars tells the story of a lone gunman that rides into town only to find himself in the middle of a gang war. While technically Clint Eastwood’s character does have a name in this film, of Joe, his background is still very much unknown. Personally I found this film to be the lesser of the three but that doesn’t make it a bad film by any means. At times it seems to drag, but the climax is one of the best ever made with the exception to another film in this set.
For A Few Dollars More again picks up with our no-name gunslinger only this time he is labeled as a bounty killer. I’m guessing this is before the phrase bounty hunter became part of the mainstream. This time our character teams up with another bounty killer in order to stop a gang from robbing, killing, and getting away with a fortune. For me the quality of this film trilogy skyrocketed when I saw this film for the first time. Cinematography and tension are some of the best in Western genre along with a great musical score.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly takes a different route in showing our three characters one at a time. The film centers on “Blondie” otherwise known as the good, and “Tuco” rat bastard of a character known as the ugly. They happened to run across a dying soldier, telling them of the location, of the $200,000 treasure. The films antagonist “angel eyes” is right behind them in trying to foil their plan. The film culminates into an epic three-hour Western with the best Mexican standoff in film history. Everything here is nearly perfect and for a three hour long film it never feels that long which is quite an achievement. The music by Ennio Morricone is not only amazing but also iconic cause every one knows the theme even if they don’t know the movie. There’s not much more to say than if you haven’t seen any of these films I would highly recommend watching them immediately. Seriously stop what you’re doing and watch them you won’t regret it.
“$200,000 is a lot of money. We’re gonna have to earn it.”
It should be noted that Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, are simply repackaged from the 2010 box set.
Video quality is a tricky mistress with this set, with the best easily going to The Good the Bad and the Ugly, due to its 4k transfer, but sadly the worst goes to Fistful of Dollars. Fistful has the problems of most early blu-rays which is that the general lack of attention to good mastering. The image is soft (most likely due to its low budget origins) and at times the image looks pale. Dirt is kept to a minimum but it still looks just bland. Since the release of this set, Quentin Tarintino has come forward and said he has a new 4k re-master of it but its unknown if it will get a release.
For A Few Dollars More on the other hand looks quite fantastic. Colors look much more vibrant and it has a very nice filmic look to it. Details are strong with close ups of the gunfighters stone carved faces leading to a cavalcade of glorious details. Of course there are a few shots where the quality dips, but overall is leaps and bounds better than the dvd editions that are out.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’s 4k re-master is nothing short of stunning. The film has been re-color timed into it having a much nicer golden tint, to reflect the main theme of the film. After some research I did find that Leone did want this to be reflected in the film and is completely the directors intent. Details are unbelievable. Everything has an incredible 3D pop to it that truly shows the possibilities of a restoration. For a film that is nearly fifty years old, it looks brand new. That’s not to say the transfer is completely perfect. This is the extended edition, that includes the twenty minutes of film that was cut and sadly, the quality does not transfer to these scenes. Not even the color timing appears to have made it and these scenes stick out like a canker sore.
Fistful of Dollars: 7/10
For a Few Dollars More: 8/10
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 9.5/10
“Alive or dead. Its your choice.”
Audio on the other hand is a pretty simple affair, and doesn’t really require separating into the differing films. All are presented in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and, for the most part, it gets the job done. I wish the discs also included a lossless mono mix that represented the original theatrical presentation, but I guess they can add that to the next edition. The sound field is relatively used well with everything being front heavy. I did notice a few times that everything (including music and effects) would only come out of the center speaker and felt boxed in. Rear speakers are used sparingly and the sub gets to kick maybe a handful of times throughout the films. Dialogue is clean and it’s generally a good mix, but due to its origins always feels restrained.
Packaging and Bonus Features
“Where life has no value, death, sometimes, have a price. That’s why the bounty killers appeared.”
The packaging for this set is fairly plain with it coming in the standard Blu-ray case. The disc art has been ported over from the previous Blu-ray set except for the good the bad and the ugly disk, which gets its own art. Bonus features on the other hand have largely been ported over from the previous set as well except for a couple from the good, the bad, and the ugly. I really have no complaints with their being no new material due to the time in which these films were released, bonus features didn’t exist. So for them to scrounge up whatever they had a still impressive, but I still wish they could have recorded a commentary track with Eastwood. All the bonus features are highly entertaining showing a real feel for what the film must’ve been like not only on the set, but at home viewing the promotional trailers.
A Fistful of Dollars
Commentary with Film Historian Christopher Frayling
The Christopher Frayling Archives: Fistful of Dollars
A New Kind of Hero
A Few Weeks in Spain: Clint Eastwood on the Experience of Making the Film
Tre Voci: Fistful of Dollars
Not Ready for Primetime
The Network Prologue with Harry Dean Stanton
Location Comparisons: Then to Now
10 Radio Spots
Double Bill Trailer
Fistful of Dollars Trailer
For A Few Dollars More
Commentary with Film Historian Christopher Frayling
The Christopher Frayling Archives: For A Few Dollars More
A New Standard: Frayling on For A Few Dollars More
Back For More: Clint Eastwood Remembers For A Few Dollars More
Tre Voci: For A Few Dollars More
For A Few Dollars More: The Original American Release Version
12 Radio Spots
Theatrical Trailer 1
Theatrical Trailer 2
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Leone Style
The Man Who Lost the Civil War
Restructuring The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Overall(not an average)
“Hey, Blond! You know you are? Just a dirty son of a…”
What is there left to say about these films? They’re iconic, classic, and will stand the test of time. This Blu-ray set offers them and probably the best picture quality that is currently available in the home market. Add to that an audio mix that is sturdy and gets the job done, and bonus features that will leave you entertained for hours after. I would highly recommend this set to any collector or anyone who has not seen these films yet.