Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Good the Bad and the Ugly |
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Antonio Casas, Mario Brega
By far the most ambitious, unflinchingly graphic and stylistically influential western ever mounted, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is an engrossing actioner shot through with a volatile mix of myth and realism. Clint East... more »
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One of the great Westerns in an amazing package!
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 06/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MGM released a DVD edition of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" in the late 1990s, but it had few extras, a mono soundtrack, and a scratched print. Finally, MGM has given Sergio Leone's Western epic the double-disc special edition it deserves. The print is restored and as clear as I've ever seen it, the sound is now an astonishing 5.1 Surround (listen to the glass falling off Tuco after he springs through the window in the opening sequence!) nineteen minutes of footage from the Italian original have been restored, and the discs are packed with extras. Even the packaging is great: a sturdy interlocking box, with the DVDs kept in the upper and bottom parts of the two lids. Also inside the box are cards containing posters for the film in five different countries.The film, like most of the European Westerns of the 1960s, was critically disregarded in its day. The New York Times said of it: "the most expensive, pious, and repellent movie in the history of its peculiar genre. There is scarcely a moment's respite from the pain." It's amazing how people missed the brilliance of this movie, which turned Western conventions upside down in such a wonderfully bizarre, European way. Now the film is considered a classic, and only Sergio Leone's own "Once Upon a Time in the West" (another great 2 DVD set, by the way) has more respect in the genre. Leone's strange style -- stretched out time, obsession with close-ups and extreme wide-shots, focus on rituals, and use of Morricone's wild and avant-garde score -- are all in full force in this tale of three treasure-seekers searching for a cache of gold coins on the Texas-New Mexico border during the Civil War. The implacable and unflappable 'hero' Blondie (Clint Eastwood), the crazy comic bandit Tuco (Eli Wallach), and the calculating immoral sadist Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) cross each other's paths amidst the senseless violence of the war. Leone perfectly contrasts the self-interested men with the greater backdrop of the tragedy of war. It's a strangely emotionally affecting picture despite its focus on three men who are detached from normal society and seem not to care about anything but money. So many individual scenes stand out for their virtuosity that the movie a parade of "greatest hits." Most astonishing of all is "The Ecstasy of Gold" sequence where Tuco dashes madly through a cemetery, looking for the grave that might hold the gold. Morricone's music here is especially overwhelming.Chances are you've seen the film and love it. What about the new scenes and the extras?Nineteen minutes of footage have been restored that were never shown in the American prints. The scenes integrate perfectly into the film, and after seeing them once, you won't be able to imagine they were ever missing. Among the scenes are Angel Eyes visiting a destroyed fort; Tuco hiring bandits to help him chase Blondie; Blondie and Angel Eyes having a face-to-face when they first set out together to find the gold; and some extra conversation between Tuco and Blondie in the desert. However, these scenes were never dubbed into English in the 1960s. Therefore, the DVD producers had to newly dub them. Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood do their own voices. An actor named Simon Prescott does the imitation of the deceased Lee Van Cleef. Admittedly, Wallach and Eastwood no longer sound the same, but I couldn't imagine someone else imitating their voices -- it couldn't have been done any other way. Prescott is pretty good as Angel Eyes, if a bit more gravelly.The extras...Disc 1 has audio commentary by Richard Shickel, a film historian who wrote Eastwood's biography and also did commentary on Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America" DVD. His comments can be pretty dry, and he focuses mostly on Leone's style and techniques instead of on background information on the filming itself. Nonetheless, there are many interesting insights, and Shickel manages to say a lot during the three-hour running time.Most of the extras are on Disc 2:"Leone's West" -- A 20-minute documentary about the making of the film. Includes interviews with Shickel, producer Alberto Grimaldi, author of the English dialogue Mickey Knox, and best of all, Eastwood and Wallach. There's some very interesting info and memories here, mostly from Knox and the two actors."The Leone Style" -- A 23-minute documentary, really just an extension of the first one. It spends more time on Leone's unusual techniques. The same interviewees appear here."The Man Who Lost the Civil War" -- A 14-minute documentary that was produced separately from the DVD. It makes no mention of the movie, but is about its historical backdrop: the disastrous General Sibley campaign in Texas. Sibley appears in the film briefly, and this short documentary gives the viewer an important insight into the world of Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes."Reconstructing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" -- An 11 minute look into the painstaking work involved with fixing the picture and sound, restoring the cut scenes, and re-dubbing it."Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone" -- 8 minutes; mostly an interview with music scholar John Burlingame about the film's score. At the end of the feature, you can choose to listen to an audio-only twelve-minute lecture by Burlingame that provides a much more in-depth analysis of the music."Deleted Scenes" -- Two scenes couldn't go back into the film. The extended torture scene had a damaged negative, so here it is in its rougher state. An apparently lost scene is reconstructed through text, stills, and clips from the French trailer.Finally, there's a gallery of posters, the original trailer, and MGM tossing in some gratuitous advertising for their other films.Don't miss this DVD. Not only is it one of the great action films and one the great westerns, but it's the kind of release that the DVD format was invented for!"
Il Cattivo, il Brutto, il Blu-Ray
Ryan Agadoni | Whittier, CA USA | 05/19/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of Leone's work, especially his Westerns. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a fantastic entry in his oeuvre (though I rank Once Upon A Time in the West and For A Few Dollars More just above it). It is full of his great style, it's very entertaining, and it features one of the best adversarial trios ever put to film in Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes.
So it is with sadness that I have to rate this Blu-Ray 3 stars (and it's closer to 2.5). I've bought this movie three times now, not counting this Blu-Ray: on VHS, the first single disc DVD, and the SE that came out a few years ago. It should be obvious that I love this movie. When the Blu-Ray was announced, I was ecstatic. High definition Leone? Sign me up! I pre-ordered it along with the new T2 disc. Then I started reading early reviews that said the picture quality wasn't up to snuff. I was disheartened, and decided to cancel my order until I could check out the disc for myself.
I rented it from Netflix, and have unfortunately found my fears confirmed. While it certainly looks better than the SE DVD, it is not the best this movie can look. The over-zealous Digital Noise Reduction that has been applied completely robs many scenes of the fine detail we might otherwise have seen in 1080p. I put the old SE DVD in my Xbox and flipped back and forth between the Blu-Ray and DVD on a single scene (Blondie stands alone against some hills in the background in the final scene). While the Blu-Ray looked "cleaner" (that is, the digital artifacting visible on the DVD was gone), there was actually no further detail to be seen on the Blu-Ray! It was as if you took the DVD image and smeared it until the noise was gone, then bumped it up to 1080. I looked specifically at Blondie's eyes to see if any more detail was visible on the Blu-Ray, but there wasn't. The bushes on the hill in the background, too, looked like sharpened up-scaled blobs rather than bushes captured on film by a camera.
So, the picture quality isn't as good, but how about the rest? Well, it's mostly great! The extras, carried over from the SE, are all still interesting, and the new commentaries (which I haven't listened to yet) are very welcome and appreciated. The new menus are also nice. But I do have one more negative point: the sound.
If you watch the special feature on restoring the movie, the producer notes that in order to make a 5.1 audio track, he had to add sound effects. While I'm sure some appreciate having a 5.1 track, the sound effects (specifically the gun-shots) sound way off from the original unique and integral Leone effects. They use the exact same stock gun-shot that you've heard on TV cop shows and it really detracts from the movie if you've seen the original as many times as I have. The Blu-Ray includes many audio options, but unfortunately, an original mono track is not among them. It did have an English 2.0 mono, but it's still the remastered sound with the lame gun-shot effects, oddly. To hear the difference, pick a scene (like Tuco in the bath), and switch back and forth between the English 5.1 or 2.0 and the Italian 2.0. It's very obvious and really bugs me. So if I want to hear the original sound effects, I have to watch it in Italian? Come on, MGM/Fox, how hard would it have been to include the ORIGINAL 2.0 Mono track?
So, in conclusion, you have a great movie on Blu-Ray with lackluster picture and no original English soundtrack, but a plethora of great extras, all on a single disc. Worth it? Not for me, but it may be for you. I'm holding out hope that one day MGM/Fox will get a good transfer that isn't overly digitally tampered with (Leone should have some GRAIN, man! Check out the Italian BR releases!), and includes the original mono sound in English. Until then, I'm going to have to buy the old 1-disc DVD release used to enjoy this great movie."
"Such ingratitude after all the times I saved your life..."
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 07/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is Sergio Leone's epic masterpiece. While it is part of his Spaghetti Western Trilogy( all three films have different characters and plots), the film stands on its own and really shows you how good a movie can really be. This movie has it all. It has action, drama and even some comic relief in it. It is a timeless classic that is unforgettable. When I first saw it, I was a little kid and couldn't truly appreciate it as I can now at age 22.
Blondie (The Man with No Name) isn't your typical good guy. He mainly does things that suits his own agenda. However, when compared to the murderous Angel Eyes and the greedy Tuco, Blondie is a saint. This tale involves bloodshed, shoot-outs, search for treasure, and double-crossing. And it all takes place while the Civil War is going on, which makes things a lot more "interesting" for the notorious three. The West has never been wilder or more unpredictable than it is now. With an incredible score, excellent acting, and superb story-telling, this is one memorable film that you will never forget.
As I said in the beginning, the first time I saw this was when I was a little kid. When I just recently purchased this new edition of the movie, it truly was like I was watching it for the first time. Coming from a guy who isn't a big fan of Westerns (I don't mind them, but I don't watch too many of them), I absolutely LOVED this film. In fact, I wanted to give it a standing ovation when it was all said and done due to how moved I was by it. This really is filmmaking at its finest. I wasn't terribly impressed with Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America," but he is absolutely flawless with this amazing and timeless Western. It is slower than the second film ("For a Few Dollars More"), but I think that makes this all the better. The build up of tension is much more present in this film, and you really get the sense that these characters are real people. Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach are brilliant in their roles, and a lot of props need to go to Lee Van Cleef as he is absolutely chilling in his role.
This new edition really does the film the justice it deserves. The film has been restored to the director's original vision as much as possible, giving you an extra 18 minutes. You will notice the added scenes as the voices have been re-dubbed (the first time you will notice this will throw you, as I think that specific part has the worst re-dubbing, but the other added scenes are done a lot better, even if you still notice it). The picture looks incredible and the sound is great. Extras included are commentary from Richard Schickel, a couple of documentaries and featurettes, poster gallery, deleted scenes and the original theatrical trailer. Along with the nice packaging, you get an 8-page booklet that includes pictures from the film along with Roger Ebert's most recent review of the film. And, you get some mini-posters included inside the packaging as well. A superior edition of the movie, without question.
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is a pure triumph in filmmaking and should be seen by everybody at least once. Don't let the fact that this is a Western throw you. I think this can be enjoyed by everybody, and even by those who are not big fans of Westerns. A film filled with authentic emotion and action, this is one that shouldn't be missed by anyone. I LOVE this movie, and I cannot express that enough. -Michael Crane"
Legendary film gets the hack treatment
mojo_navigator | 05/28/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is without question the most appalling example of film restoration that I've ever encountered. It is a textbook example of how work of this kind should NOT be approached.
Firstly, there is the look of the film itself. It is radically different from the original prints that used to circulate prior to 2003, a semblance of which can be found in earlier DVD releases. Although the colors here do possess a degree of vibrancy, the overall look is washed-out and is not true to the original picture. But even more distressing is the misuse of audio. I do not understand why film studios feel the need to convert an original mono soundtrack into surround sound. If it is an attempt to attract a younger audience, it is bound to fail since it's unlikely that such a demographic would be interested in a film from 1966. And if it's aimed at an older and supposedly more discerning audience, surely they'd value the integrity of the original soundtrack over an artificallly created one.
Even more than the picture, the sound mix violates the spirit of the original. Furthermore, some of the technical people involved in the restoration decided to "play god" and RE-RECORD PARTS OF THE SOUNDTRACK! Now, regardless of whether you feel that it now sounds "better", the point is that the director's vision should always be preserved. To completely trash the original soundtrack is cultural vandalism of the highest order and this is particularly noticeable in the sound of the gunshots which Leone spent many hours perfecting. These are now completely gone, replaced with more modern sounding effects which further negates the charm of the original.
There is also a noticable difference in how the music appears in the overall mix. Possibly more than any other selection of films, the music in Leone's play a central if not the central role. It's integral to the entire film and yet on this DVD, it sits way back in the mix, reduced to the incidental.
Film restoration is a tricky thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's a disaster. The important thing, though, is that the director's vision should be preserved as closely as possible which is clearly not the case here. I'd recommend everyone reading this to try and see an earlier print of the film and judge the differences for themselves. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of my five favorite films and it's hugely disappointing to see it mauled in such a way. I'd hope that in any future restoration attempts, more cultured individuals who genuinely care about the film are involved rather than crass technical people who would like to think they have Leone's talent but really are little more than clueless hacks with little imagination or even interest in the art of cinema."