Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 11/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The trilogy of westerns made by Sergio Leone during the early to mid-60's are among the best of the so-called spaghetti westerns produced. Leone's unique cinematic vision and his unusual use of the camera (a bit of trivia Leone never storyboarded his films. Unlike Hitchcock and other major directors he had it all in his head)make these films unique and powerful. Leone was the first foreign film director to make self reflective movies; i.e., his westerns were really about the classic western films he grew up loving with a post-ironic twist. You can read about the plots elsewhere as I want to concentrate on the major drawback (and the benefits)of these DVDs; Both Fistful and more are presented in their widescreen aspect radio. Since Leone's films benefited from the widescreen format and vistas, seeing them in a pan and scan version doesn't do the films justice; it's like listening to a great piece of music through a portable radio with poor reception. You get the gist of the music and feel that's powerful but it lacks the full impact and range.The films exhibit a high amount of analog artifacts. Portions of More also look quite faded. Both films deserve and require a restoration similar to that performed for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (although the version included here is not the restored version). Both discs also include both pan and scan and widescreen versions of the films. There's also theatrical trailers and booklets with background on the making of both films. The soundtrack sounds flat and thin--given the way the original soundtracks were mixed and released that's not a surprise. Still, if the original elements still exist it would be worthwhile to revisit these films, restore and then remaster them with a commentary track (similar to that for Once Upon A Time in The West). They don't look horrible but it's clear that the negative is either in poor condition or the prints used were not pristine.The Good, The Bad and The Ugly looks and sounds better than the other two films in the series. It also benefited from a much larger budget and shooting time which is to the benefit of the film. The acting is stronger (Eastwood returns as does Van Cleef joined by the scene chewing Eli Wallach in a marvelous turn as "the ugly"). THis version features a number of scenes cut for both the International and US version. While the scenes aren't restored (and my copy didn't even had the advertised "Italian" dialogue track but was silent), they provide an interesting background as to the motivations of the characters.TGTBATU looks still has a fair amount of analog artifacts but not quite as bad as the first two. The sound is slightly better although still thin (again, it was recorded and shown in mono. Remember, this was the early 60's). Leone's direction and visual flair are more in evidence on the third film of the series. Here's hoping that MGM will get around to re-releasing the restored version that showed earlier in the year. Reportedly, Eastwood and Wallach re-recorded their dialogue (which might explain why the tracks are silent--it's clear that the dialogue tracks must be missing or incomplete)and they had a sound alike for the late Van Cleef. While all three films are essential western classics, all three are marred by a variety of analog flaws. Their still worth having but I'm hoping with the advent of reissues like Once Upon a Time in The West, that all three will get a face-lift and second chance on DVD. It also wouldn't hurt to provide some interesting background on the making of all three films. Eastwood and Wallach are still around as are various crew members/actors from the original productions. Let's hope it gets done!Oh, and by the way, the Man with No Name did have a name in at least two of the three films here. That Man With No Name aspect was a marketing ploy dreamed up by the original studio (United Artists) to sell the films later on down the line."
The Greatest Westerns Ever Made, But These DVDs have Shortco
A.D. | Delaware | 05/04/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"My low rating does not apply to the movies themselves. In a period when most Hollywood westerns were becoming predictable and formulaic, Italian director Sergio Leone broke the mold! This trilogy, along with his last western, "Once Upon A Time In The West" (not included in this set), are the four greatest westerns ever made, and yet were not produced by Hollywood. The greatest of the Hollywood westerns, such as "The Magnificent Seven", "The Big Country", "The Alamo", "The Three Godfathers"; and south-of-the-border westerns like "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "Guns For San Sabastian" (to name but a few of the greats) all fall in behind the Leone westerns. If you are a fan of westerns and have not seen the movies in this trilogy, watch them as soon as possible, but be prepared for something different than you are used to. They are not slick, but instead portray an accurate grittiness of the old west. They are not gimmicky like the Hollywood westerns of more recent vintage (say from about the mid 1970's to present). The greatest western ever made has to be "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly". This is the mother of all westerns! The acting in all three movies is superb, but the performance of Eli Wallach as Tuco in "The Good..." is extraordinary, and ranks as one of the greatest performances by any actor on film. Clint Eastwood also gives the greatest performance of his career in "The Good...". It is interesting that Clint tried to recapture the magic of the Leone films in his own productions such as "Pale Rider", Hang 'Em Hign", etc., but never even came close.
Now on to the problems with these discs. The transfers are not particularly hign quality, and appear not to be remastered. The first two trilogy movies are merely letterboxed rather than enhanced widescreen. But the biggest bummer of all is the sound quality. The sound quality on "The Good..." is about as good as any of the versions I have heard. The sound quality of "Fistful..." is rather poor. But it is the obnoxious sound of "for A Few Dollars More" that is really a crime. The dialog is too far in the background, and the overall sound on this disc is so harsh that if you turn the volume up to a level where you can hear the dialog clearly, the hard, treble-heavy, distorted sound will bore a hole in your head! I'm not kidding. I love these movies so much that I will have to find an alternative version of "For a Few Dollars More" to replace the one that came with this trilogy. If I had it to do over again, I would purchase the best individual versions I could find, rather than waste money of this set. It's too bad that MGM didn't put just a little bit more TLC into these masterpieces!"
Review of DVD features
Steve C. Yabut | PA USA | 03/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A good series to own, if you like westerns or Eastwood. I'll just comment on the DVD features. The video reproductions of "A Fistfull of Dollars" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." are excellent. The reproduction of "For a Few Dollars More" left a lot to be desired. This one must have been reproduced from an imperfect source because a lot of dust floaters are present which is only really distracting during nighttime scenes. Not a lot of extras included, a few trailers and for the "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" some extra minutes from deleted scenes."
Mr. A. Pomeroy | Wiltshire, England | 07/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Three classic, genre-busting Westerns in a shiny box, which, despite being filmed in Spain, seem to capture the sense of time and place more effectively than a million and one Hollywood equivalents. The atmosphere of casual brutality and offhand killing was unique at the time, and although 'The Wild Bunch' was considerably more bloody, Sam Peckinpah was trying to turn his gunfighters into heroes with a capital 'H', and not the ambiguous anti-heroes presented here. Here, the main characters shoot first, the villains are nasty, and everybody is generally amoral and out for number one. 'Fistful of Dollars' borrows a plot from Akira Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo' (recently re-borrowed as Bruce Willis' 'Last Man Standing'), and introduces Clint Eastwood as the coolest man in the world, one capable of shooting the cigarillo from the mouth of a man standing on top of a house, three hundred yards away, without flinching. 'A Few Dollars More' introduces Lee Van Cleef as a more traditional 'hero', and 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' (a prequel to the other two films, although it is not obviously so) immediately subverts this by using Van Cleef, playing a different character, as 'The Bad', as well as Eli Wallach in an archetypally ratty role.Apart from the tone, the other thing that sets these films apart is the look. The constant, extreme close-ups of the faces of sweaty people are quite disturbing on a wide-screen television, although you'll need one for the alternating long-shots. Not to be overlooked is Ennio Morricone's astonishing music, a lovably over-the-top mixture of all kinds of orchestral and non-orchestral instruments, complete with operatic 'leitmotifs'. The tone of the films is one of extreme excess, both in terms of style and content - 'GBU' has an enormous civil war battle almost as set dressing, and a haunting, odd ending in a vast graveyard - and it works perfectly.The only shame is that they didn't go the whole hog and include 'Once Upon a Time in America' (or 'Fistful of Dynamite'), but then again it wouldn't be the 'Man with No Name' trilogy, would it? Also of note is the only other remotely famous Spaghetti western saga, the 'Django' films, which have a cult following.Note that the 'gunfire / ricochet' noise appears to be exactly the same all the way throughout each film.On DVD you get a bunch of extra things, most notable some more scenes to 'The Good...', and some amusing trailers - the one for 'Fistful of Dollars' reveals that Clint Eastwood used an assumed name, and plays up the violence as if it was the first ever film to include shooting."
Great Movies, Mediocre DVDs
SonofSkywalker | Cleveland, Ohio | 06/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I really hate westerns in general, but I love these films. Leone's Epic West stands on its own as the most inspired Western ever conceived. These movies have inspiried countless imitators, but not even skilled attempts to follow in Leone's footsteps(The El Mariachi Trilogy) have come close. The only problem is that these DVDs have no features and the transfer on them is not very good. Fans of the series would be better off buying just the first two and then buying the Special Edition of The Good the Bad and The Ugly, which gives that films the treatment it deserves. It will cost a few dollars more(couldn't resist the pun), but that will be money well spent, since that edition is the longer, original Leone cut that was shown in Italy and most of the rest of the world, while the boxed set is the cut-down American Version that 25 minutes of plot and character development. Again, any fan of great stories will love these movies, but not nessecarily these DVDs."