on July 30, 2011
1. In a nutshell:
- "Fistful": 8/10
- "Few More": 9/10
- "Good, Bad, Ugly": 7/10
Audio: English, Spanish, French (German/Italian also on "Good, Bad, Ugly")
Extras: seem to be the same as on 2-disc DVD sets.
NB: extraordinary audio commentary by Leone expert Christopher Frayling!
In my view this box set is a bargain (I ordered my copies for $29).
If you like these Leone films, then this 3-piece set should be a no-brainer.
2. For sprocket hole addicts (myself included):
All films of this "trilogy" (of course it wasn't intended as such) were shot in "Techniscope" (i.e. 2 perforation holes instead of 4, as in "Cinemascope" ) hence cutting stock costs in half - unfortunately same goes for picture resolution. Therefore a slightly lesser picture quality than in usual Cinemascope Blu-ray transfers is the result. But this only adds to the intentional grittiness of Carlo Simi's production design. Much better prints are not likely in the future.
Still these Blu-ray prints of the three movies differ in their picture quality with "Few More" being the best (except some minor visible stain at TC 00:04:09-56, Chpt. 2) followed by "Fistful" and "Good, Bad, Ugly" (due to excessive DNR processing).
Alternatives for the 3-disc box set?
- "Fistful" - you can also look for the Italian BD release from RHV (Ripleys Home Video; Region Free) available from bol.it.
- "Few More" - this BD is available seperately (for the price of this entire set!)
- "Good, Bad, Ugly" - you could wait for an enhanced BD version, but who knows when this will be around? "Good, Bad, Ugly" of course could use some improvement...
- Fox have put out a 4-disc BD set also including "Hang 'em High" available from amazon.co.uk (RC? / picture quality? / audio?)
Overall these BDs look great - a definite improvement over DVDs - and are great fun to watch!! Audio commentary by Christopher Frayling (author of: "Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone", 1981) impressively marks the difference between informative vs. talkative (yes, Sir!) and provides you with everything you always wanted to know about these Leone films but didn't know whom to ask... brilliant!!
This is a must-have collection for any man, or any lover of film. Sergio Leone invented the so-called "spaghetti western" -- Spanish western -- with this trilogy. Eastwood became a Hollywood star thanks to the huge boost that these Spanish films gave him. The movies introduce a silent, intelligent American drifter with a lightning-fast draw and dead-on accuracy, plus a knack for getting in over his head and back out again. The films are often remembered for their stunning dramatic effect, but it should be noted that Leone had a witty sense of humour and if you watch these films carefully you should be delighted by it. Right down to the fact that the boys in his films are pretty-faced and the adults are worn with wrinkles; the tragedy of adult sacrifice. His satircal edge and drama are as well balanced as the elements of realism and tall tale. As fun to watch as they are striking in believability, as sorrowful as they are touching, this is a classic series not to be missed!
On this package, two of my DVDs were actually from the "Best of Eastwood" collection. I don't know if this was a mistake in packaging or if they ran out of the right kind. But the visual quality seems good, and so I am satisfied with the error. With the collection as I received it, there are no real extra features as such. The eddition of prieviously edited out scenes was a mistake; they were taken out for good reason. They are great to see, enjoyable for a real fan of Leone's like myself, however I would have liked it better to have had a version of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" without those scenes in it.
But to have three of the best westerns ever made ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" being THE best), I am happy.
on February 19, 2004
Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name" trilogy is classic. It made both Leone and composer Ennio Morricone famous, elevated Clint Eastwood into stardom, and invented the "spaghetti western". Now western fans can own the entire series in one DVD set.
The series begins with A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, the classic western that introduced us to Morricone's rolling, whistling score that is now associated with the genre; Clint Eastwood's cool performance of the lone stranger who takes down two feuding small town gangs; and Leone's masterful direction. Then we move on to FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, in which Eastwood teams up with an old army colonel (Lee Van Cleef) to capture the bounty on an escaped prisoner. The series ends with THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, undoubtedly the greatest western film ever made. Eastwood is flawless, Morricone's score classic, the action terrific, and Leone's direction extraodinary; you are absolutely glued to the TV screen throughout the entire 2 hours and 40 minutes. Cinema lovers everywhere and anywhere will not want to miss out on this excellent collection of the greatest western masterpieces of all-time.
on November 30, 2003
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.
on October 8, 2002
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS
While the plot can be a little confusing at times (I had to watch it twice to understand everything), this is a well-made western, with great music and lots of action. One day a mysterious stranger rides into a town, in which a conflict is ocurring between two families, both of which want the other out and to rule the town. The Stranger takes up a job with one of the families, the Rojos. But thanks to his quick wit & quick draw, he ends devises a plan that will destroy both families. The main thing that bugs me is that the DVD sound is so lousy that I need to set it up so that it has English subtitles at the bottom. Otherwise, you can't understand a word anyone's saying!
Rating: 3 outta 5
FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE
A step up from the first one. This time, the Man With No Name (now a bounty hunter) forms a partnership with an old adversary of his, in order to track down a ruthless killer. Plenty of plot twists, more first-rate music by Ennio Morricone, and again plenty of action. (Plus: I don't need subtitles with this one!)
Rating: 4 outta 5
THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE UGLY
A true "epic western", that by far surpasses both of the previous two. This time around, the Man With No Name has a smooth-going parntership with Elli Wallach. They soon learn of a cache of $200,000 in gold hidden somewhere, and set out to find it. But another man is also searching for the money (Lee Van Cleef). The movie is full of betrayals and re-partnerships, and more betrayals, until all three men meet up in a spectacular climactic showdown. An excellent western, with absolutely brilliant music. One of the five greatest westerns ever made, as well as the most influential.
Rating: 5 outta 5
Overall, this is perhaps the best western series ever made. True, to non-western/non-Eastwood fans, all three films would surely seem boring and overlong (especially the third one). But to fans of westerns and/or Eastwood, this set is definitely a must-buy.
on March 20, 2002
This will be one of my shortest reviews,as most has been said already.
I only wish to say that the TRUE wonder of the Spaghetti Westerns is that the real shining star is not CLINT, but the supporting actors.
Lee Van Cleef's determined sneer or Eli Wallach's comical over the top method acting (Mr. Wallach is from the same "school" as early Brando and Rod Steiger , delightfully nuts!). If your attention is not TOTALLY steered away from the enigmatic Clint performances to focus on the wonderful supporting cast who carry the movies, I think ya aint watching the movies in the "correct manner"! (smiles)
Fans of the trilogy should also find the wonderful and overlooked "Giu la Testa", (also called "A Fist Full of Dynamite" or "Duck You Sucker"), - Clint is not in the film, and replaced with delicious performances by James Coburn as an exiled Irish republican Army refugee and Steiger as a complete boffo Mexican bandito (with an accent that wavers and falters, the worst Gringoloco Spanish accent since Al Pacino's ridiculously funny Tony Montana faux-Cubano in Scarface, hehehehehe!)
The best thing about the movies is the beautiful Ennio Morricone soundtracks--without this special music, I dont think the full impact of these films would have been the same, Leone and Morricone were dead on gemios(twins), they were totally in one another's sphere of influence.
Enough said, case closed, story told 10000 stars!
on December 30, 2000
Clint Eastwood is the "man with no name." Italian director Sergio Leone directed what many believe are to be the Top 3 films of all time! Beginning with "A Fistful of Dollars" (copied from the Japanese samurai film "Yo Jimbo") Clint Eastwood rides into a town with two bosses. "For A Few Dollars More" betters on the first. Includes Lee Van Cleef as supporting actor. Two Bounty Killers team up to kill a common foe: One wronged by Indio, the head bank robber. "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" is the best of the lot, complete with a haunting musical score by Ennio Morricone. Who could forget the shrilling cry in the opening credits? "Ahh-ee-ahh-ee-iii! Wa...Wa...Wa..." The collaboration of Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone is what makes these films work. "Spaghetti Westerns" don't waste time with the conventional "cowboys and indians." They focus more on the loners, the gunslingers, the bandits. This DVD Trilogy is the DEFINITIVE COLLECTION. Includes original theatrical trailers, bonus footage, behind the scenes, and much, much more! For more film/music greats look for Leone and Morricone collaborating on "Once Upon A Time in the West" (starring Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, and Henry Fonda), "A Fistful of Dynamite" aka "Duck You Sucker" (James Coburn, and "Once Upon A Time In America" (Robert DeNiro, James Woods). These films are the best, the peak in Western Cinemas.
on July 10, 2000
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.
on June 14, 2000
Man, this has to be one of the best DVD sets I have ever bought. I have been a fan of these films for years and now they are on DVD!
Fistful of Dollars - 4 stars. The widescreen version of this surprised me bigtime. I've only seen the pan and scan and used to think the films were low budget and sloppy. Not now, its like a totally different film, you can see 50% more of the movie, people running in the streets (which on pan and scan looked like the town was always deserted except for Clint and the badguys), everything. The film print looks fantastic, its so clear, other VHS and tv versions are very muddy and the color bleeds alot making people's faces look yellow, everything is in place here. Only problem I have with this movie is that it is a scene by scene remake of Yojimbo, there really isn't anything new here. Most scenes were shot in the exact angle with the same lines and action that was in Yojimbo, its like someone drew a cowboy hat on Toshiro Mifune and put a gun in his hand. This is still a great movie though the original is much better (lets forget about the horrible un-inspired 3rd remake Last Man Standing).
For a Few Dollars More-5 stars. Ok, the print has alot of dust floaters and scratches but this is the best print of the film I've ever seen. Nice big widescreen makes it a totally different movie too if like me, all you have ever seen was the pan and scan. Instead of this being a remake of Sanjuro (the sequel to Yojimbo)its a whole new story carrying on the legend of Sanjuro. Lee Van Cleef totally rocks in this movie.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly-5000 stars! This is probley one of the main reasons most people bought this set! This movie is awesome! Nice huge widescreen really helps with this one, it too looks like an entirely different film. The extra lost scenes are ok but I don't speak Italian, I wish they could have put them in with the entire movie but since a english track was not recorded for those scenes it will never be done. Unless they release a Italian subtitled version, wouldn't that be wierd watching a movie about the old west and everyone is speaking Italian?
If your a huge fan of these films and can recite every line from them there is no reason you should not own this.
And notice that the bottle from the scene where Clint is talking about "baxter's on this side, Roho's over here, and me right in the middle" and the bartender guy thumps the cork. Its the bottle with rope tied tightly around it, its in every Sergio Leone movie ever made.
on June 1, 2000
When making these classic films, Sergio Leone (the director of the Man With No Name Trilogy) copied no one (except for Akira Kurosawa). He defied the cliches that were entrenched in the modern Western film.
The Man With No Name Trilogy consists of three films: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. These films contain no heroes. Instead, the films follow the adventures of a seemingly-invinsible "super-gunfighter" (Clint Eastwood). Heroes are given names. We are never told what Eastwood's character's real name is. He is referred to as "Joe" or "Blondie," but his real name is never revealed. Hence, he has become the legendary Man With No Name.
These films are brilliant. The plots are cleverly conceived. These films made Eastwood into an internation superstar. After watching these films, you will wonder why it took an Italian director to make the best Western films ever to hit the silver screen. Amazon.com offers a great price on this trilogy and it's well worth the investment. You will spend many hours analyzing the exploits of the enigmatic Man With No Name.