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The Big Gundown(1966)
Jonathan Corbett is a gunman so brave to have eliminated all the bandits of Texas. For this he is proposed for the candidacy to the Senate of the United States. In exchange he has only to support the construction of one railway line. Only after he accepts does he come to know that the Mexican Cuchillo has raped and killed a 12 year old girl. Corbett leaves on a long manhunt during which he gets to know his adversary better and discovers a variation on the crime for which the accused Cuchillo may not be as guilty as he first thought.
For more about The Big Gundown and the The Big Gundown Blu-ray release, see the The Big Gundown Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 13, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Tomás Milián, Luisa Rivelli
Director: Sergio Sollima
» See full cast & crew
The Big Gundown Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 13, 2013
Sergio Sollima's "La resa dei conti" a.k.a "The Big Gundown" (1966) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Swiss distributors Explosive Media. The supplemental features on this release include a documentary film featuring interviews with Sergio Sollima and actor Tomas Milian; trailers; publicity materials; and the original soundtrack for the film. Also included is a 24-page illustrated booklet with writings on the film by German spaghetti western expert Steffen Wulf. In English, Italian, or German, with optional English or German subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
The great Lee Van Cleef plays an American lawman named Johnny Corbett who agrees to capture a Mexican peasant named Cuchillo (Tomas Milian, Tepepa, Django, Kill... If You Live, Shoot!) after is accused of raping an innocent girl. The shady businessman Brockston (Walter Barnes, Duel at Sundown) wants Cuchillo's head so badly that he promises to help Corbett become a senator if he delivers it to him.
Somewhere nearby the Mexican border, Corbett tracks down Cuchillo. He tries to capture him, but gets a bullet in his chest when the peasant convinces a naive girl that he is a bandit. Cuchillo then crosses the border and disappears into the Mexican desert.
After he discovers his mistress, a beautiful prostitute who works in a popular brothel and loves to talk, Corbett once again tracks down Cuchillo. But the smart Mexican fools the lawman yet again and runs away. Corbett is then arrested by Mexican soldiers and thrown in a jailhouse. Much to his surprise, the only other prisoner there turns out to be Cuchillo. Before he escapes Cuchillo tries to convince Corbett that he is innocent, but the lawman refuses to believe him and warns him that it is only a matter of time before he is brought to justice.
This early spaghetti western directed by the legendary Sergio Sollima expertly balances style and substance. Its chase sequences are done with great precision and genuine desire to build and sustain the type of atmosphere Sergio Leone's best films are known for, while its political observations hit all sorts of different targets. Sollima wrote the script for the film in 1966 together with Sergio Donati, who two years later collaborated with Leone on the epic Once Upon a Time in the West.
The two leads are spectacular. Van Cleef exudes supreme confidence throughout the entire film and genuinely looks like a man who would not hesitate to risk his life to protect the ideals of freedom and justice. Indeed, there are countless other films with characters similar to the one Van Cleef plays, but few of them demand the respect his tough lawman does. On the opposite end is the energetic Milian, who gives the film its exotic flavor. He is particularly good during the first half of the film, where his character is still a mysterious figure.
The film is complimented by a superb soundtrack courtesy of the legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Beautiful flute and lush string solos create a truly epic feel during a number of important sequences. An outstanding song is also heard during the opening credits. ("Run Man Run", with vocals by Christy).
The Big Gundown was lensed by Italian cinematographer Carlo Carlini (Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni, Roberto Rossellini's Il generale della Rovere, Duccio Tessari's The Bastard).
Note: Swiss label Explosive Media's Blu-ray release of The Big Gundown contains a newly remastered version of the original Italian cut of the film, which runs at approximately 110 minutes. The release also comes with newly reconstructed English audio track, which allows the viewer to see the Italian cut of the film with all surviving audio elements in English (this is done through mixing and overlapping of the English and Italian tracks). In the United States, longer Italian cut of The Big Gundown has not been officially released.
The Big Gundown Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Swiss label Explosive Media.
I assume that the available elements for the longer Italian cut of The Big Gundown are not very healthy because even after the digital remastering numerous minor clarity fluctuations remain. During larger panoramic shots image depth is also not overly impressive. Contrast levels are relatively stable, but occasionally some minor color pulsations are easy to spot. Most close-ups, however, look rather pleasing. There are no large damage marks and cuts, but some tiny flecks could be seen from time to time. All in all, there is undoubtedly plenty of room for sizable improvements, but it is difficult to tell exactly how much better the film could look without knowing what elements are available to work with. (I also plan to have a review of the the French release of The Big Gundown, courtesy of Wild Side Video, to see whether there are additional improvements on it). (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).
The Big Gundown Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are four standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0., new German Dolby 2.0, and original German 2.0 tracks. For the record, Explosive Media have provided optional English and German subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The English audio track is newly reconstructed by Explosive Media. It allows the viewer to see the Italian cut of the film with all surviving audio elements in English (this is done through mixing and overlapping of the English and Italian tracks).
The quality of the lossy track is actually quite good. There is a surprisingly good range of nuanced dynamics and depth is very pleasing. The sequences where Ennio Morricone's soundtrack is prominent also sound very nice. The switches between the Italian and English audio bits are also very well done. Also, there is no heavy background or serious distortions to report in this review.
The Big Gundown Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Big Gundown Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Swiss label Explosive Media's Blu-ray release of Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown is a labor of love. I have many releases from around the world in my library, but this is the most elegant I've seen produced for a classic spaghetti western film. I think that the film could look better, but I don't have a problem recommending this release to folks residing in North American who want to see the longer Italian cut of the The Big Gundown but do not have Region-Free players. RECOMMENDED.
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