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“Man With No Name Trilogy” - {Blu-ray} - (Taylor's Review)
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: MGM
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
6/1/10
Special Features:

Numerous featurettes, TV/Radio Spots, documentary footage, etc.

Review:

The Man With No Name Trilogy consists of A Fistful Of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1966.) All 3 films are directed by Sergio Leone and star Clint Eastwood. ***

Sergio Leone's Man with No Name Trilogy unleashed the Spaghetti Western on the masses, with its new take on the Old West. His films took the world by storm, and continue to impress, nearly a half century after their release. Furthermore, they made Clint Eastwood (who was only well-known for the television series Rawhide at the time) one of the biggest movie stars in the world. His popularity hasn't dwindled in the least since. ***

A Fistful Of Dollars starts off the trilogy. The film is, essentially, a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Eastwood's Man With No Name wanders into a desolate town where two feuding factions have, more or less, ruined the town. Seeing that evil men rule the town, he sets out to play both sides of the war, more-or-less getting both sides to destroy one another. ***

For A Few Dollars More continues the Trilogy. This time Eastwood's Man With No Name is a Bounty Killer, a man who goes from town-to-town, killing wanted men, and collected the bounties on their heads to make a living by. When big prices are put on the men of a notorious gang, he enters into an uneasy alliance with a fellow Bounty Killer (Lee Van Cleef), setting out to infiltrate the gang and bring it down from the inside. ***

Closing things out is The Good The Bad And The Ugly. In this film, the Man With No Name travels from town-to-town, getting money by performing the scam of “capturing” a wanted outlaw (Eli Wallach), collecting the bounty, and rescuing him while he hangs by the hangman's noose. Eventually, they learn of a lost fortune in Confederate gold, and set out to claim it. But things take a turn for the worst when a sadistic military officer (Lee Van Cleef again) sets his eyes on the prize - and he'll do whatever it takes to eliminate those who stand in his way. ***

To put it bluntly, these movies are amazing. Sergio Leone changed the way audiences look at the Old West, once and for all. When you see that modern movies are still heavily influenced by this Trilogy, you know he was doing something right. Eastwood's character is technically the “hero” of these films, but he is a hero who plays by his own rules and seems more interested in money than justice. With his “I'll do things my way” attitude, the character is practically a prototype for Eastwood's other most famous character, Dirty Harry. ***

Each movie is great, and while part of a loose Trilogy, each one works as a stand-alone film as well (you don't need to see the others to appreciate one of the films in here, or vice versa.) If you're a fan of Westerns, Eastwood, movies that break the mold, or all of the above, these films are for you. ---

Image And Sound:

A Fistful Of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More make their Blu-Ray debuts in this collection, and the results are pretty impressive. Both films retain a faded, washed-out look with prevalent film grain throughout, making for transfers that stay true to the source material. Detail and clarity get a massive step up from the old DVD releases. Yes, there is still some dirt and print damage, but as a whole the films look great for what they are. I can't imagine them ever looking better than they do here. ***

Disappointingly, The Good The Bad And The Ugly still uses the transfer from the stand-alone disc MGM released in 2009. This transfer, while good overall, took a lot of flack on review forums for its use of DNR. And while I'm not going to insult this transfer the way some of them have, I was hoping MGM would have done a newer, truer-to-the-source transfer to go along with the earlier 2 films. Still, for what it is, I can live with it. ***

All of the movies get lossless audio tracks. Of course, the synching of the dialogue is an audiophile's nightmare due to Leone's way of dubbing in voices in post-production. But all things considered, the movies sound great, and these audio mixes due the movies justice. No fan should be disappointed on this front, but they shouldn't expect audio that competes with modern movies, either.

Special Features:

You've got to hand it to MGM. They got together all the bonus material they could for this collection, even if most of it had already appeared on SD releases in the past. Interview footage, TV spots, interviews - there is a TON of material here. No fan of the movies will be let down by the material included here, though they should be forewarned that there isn't exactly anything new, either, if they owned the SD discs.

Final Words:

Long story short, these films are great. They get terrific transfers (sans the third which reuses the old standalone disc transfer) and a ton of bonus material. Is it worth upgrading your SD discs? Absolutely. There is a lot of good in this collection, but the only bad and ugly is that The Good The Bad And The Ugly doesn't get a new transfer. Still, this collection comes strongly recommended! Here's hoping we'll get some more Sergio Leone on Blu in the near future.

 

 
 
 
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