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Posing as a hangman, Mace Bishop arrives in town with the intention of freeing a gang of outlaws, including his brother...
For more about Bandolero! and the Bandolero! Blu-ray release, see Bandolero! Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 5, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: James Stewart, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, George Kennedy, Andrew Prine, Will Geer
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
» See full cast & crew
Bandolero! Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 5, 2013
Andrew V. McLaglen's "Bandolero!" (1968) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Swiss label Explosive Media. The supplemental features on the disc include original English and German trailers, standard making of featurette, and a gallery of stills from the film. In English, with optional German subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Dee Bishop (Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, Who's Got the Action?) and his boys enter the sleepy town of Val Verde, Texas, and try to rob the local bank, but things get complicated and they quickly get arrested by Sheriff July Johnson (George Kennedy, Cool Hand Luke, The Boston Strangler) and his men.
Meanwhile, Mace Bishop (James Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo) arrives in a nearby town looking for work. While having an outdoor bath, he befriends a bubbly hangman (Guy Raymond, Gypsy) from Oklahoma who is on his way to Texas to do an important job. After the hangman shares the secrets of his profession with Mace, he kills him. Or so it seems, because the man from Oklahoma disappears and Mace arrives in Val Verde wearing his clothes and ready to do his job.
But when the Sheriff introduces Mace to Dee and his boys, he changes his mind - because Dee is his younger brother. Later one, Mace helps the bandits escape and after the Sheriff and his men go after them he quietly robs the only bank in town.
During the chase, the stunningly beautiful and rich widow Maria Stoner (Raquel Welch, Hannie Caulder, Myra Breckinridge) is kidnapped by the bandits. Not too far away from the Mexican border, Mace joins them. Maria warns her kidnappers not to enter Mexico because they will have to deal with the dangerous bandoleros that control the region, but they ignore her warning.
Andrew V. McLaglen's Bandolero! has an impressive cast, but its script is inconsistent. Parts of the film are infused with plenty of humor, but elsewhere the main protagonists engage in surprisingly serious discussions about loyalty and morality that push the film in an entirely different direction. During the second half there is also a romantic subplot which introduces character transformation that are quite unconvincing.
The visuals, however, are often very impressive. After Dee and his gang enter Mexico, for instance, there are some truly spectacular panoramic shots. The final shootout between the bandoleros and Dee's men also looks great.
Welch also looks gorgeous throughout the entire film. This helps a lot because her character utters so many useless lines that without her beauty the film would have been virtually impossible to endure.
Martin and Stewart look appropriately relaxed in front of the camera, but it quickly becomes obvious there isn't enough serious material for them to impress. Like the rest of the cast more often than not it seems like they simply enjoy the beautiful locations and the warm weather.
Bandolero! was lensed by cinematographer William H. Clothier, who worked on such legendary westerns as John Wayne's The Alamo (1960), Michael Curtiz's The Comancheros (1961), and John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). The film's soundtrack was created by Oscar winning composer Jerry Goldsmith (Rochard Donner's The Omen, Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct).
Bandolero! Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Andrew V. McLaglen's Bandolero! arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Swiss label Explosive Media.
This is the first release from Explosive Media to reach my desk and I must say that I am extremely impressed by the presentation (the packaging is just as impressive). The high-definition transfer is absolutely wonderful. Excluding a couple of tiny specs, it is about as good as it could have been for a catalog release. Detail and clarity are terrific. Especially during close-ups detail is very impressive (see screencapture #10). The panoramic shots are equally impressive, particularly where there is plenty of sunlight (see screencapture #3). Colors are warm, well saturated, and stable. There isn't even a whiff of artificial boosting throughout the entire film. Additionally, there are absolutely no traces of excessive degraining or denoising corrections. Contrast boosting corrections have not been applied either. Unsurprisingly, the film has a very strong organic look. Lastly, blown through a digital projector from start to finish the film remains exceptional tight around the edges. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Bandolero! Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 2.0 and German LPCM 2.0. For the record, Explosive Media have provided optional German subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless English track opens up the film very well in all the right places. The shootouts are appropriately intense while the dialog is always well rounded and stable. Legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith's orchestral score further enhances the exotic atmosphere as well. Finally, there is no annoying background hiss, pops, cracks, or high-frequency distortions.
Bandolero! Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features are perfectly playable on North American Blu-ray machines, including the PS3.
Bandolero! Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The beautiful Raquel Welch and the terrific panoramic footage are the two main reasons why one would want to see Andrew V. McLaglen's western Bandolero!. Considering the impressive cast, I think that it could have been a far better film, but I cannot say I was disappointed. In fact, Bandolero! is just about the perfect film to see on a lazy Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, the technical presentation is very impressive. This is the first release from Swiss label Explosive Media to reach my desk and I really could not be any more pleased with it. I am definitely looking forward to see what other releases they have planned. RECOMMENDED.
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