Lately, I’ve been wanting to watch The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) again. It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down with it, and my daughter has never seen it. So I dug out my Blu-Ray — and was instantly reminded why it’s been so long since I’ve seen it. I don’t have anything worth watching.
There’s plenty out there on the internet about what’s wrong with every single version of the film available on video. The old laserdisc from 1993, which was sourced from an actual print, came the closest to what US audiences saw back in 1967. Everything since has a list of problems a mile long, from missing stuff to badly added stuff to a botched surround mix to color that turns everything the color of urine, even the sky. Of course, that sickly yellow has become the color of choice for film transfers these days, rendering them all unwatchable. Even The Searchers isn’t immune to it.
What’s really troubling about a film like The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is that so many of us have seen it a million times, we know what it’s supposed to look, and sound, like. They can’t pull one over on us so easily. We’re onto them. Why is everything so yellow? That’s not what the guns are supposed to sound like. When the 16mm print I used to check out of the library looks and sounds better than the latest 4K “restoration,” something ain’t right.
There are old prints of Leone’s masterpiece out there. The IB Tech ones won’t fade — they’re the perfect color reference, no matter how scratched or spliced up they might be. Hell, I’d prefer a decent scan from one of those prints to what’s out there now.
This is a time when even the smallest of movies are coming to Blu-Ray with startling results. Giant From The Unknown (1958) is a good example. Doesn’t one of the biggest deserve at last as good?
Evidently so, since there’s yet another The Good, The Bad And The Ugly on the way from Kino Lorber. We’re promised the original theatrical cut, in glorious mono, with a 1967 IB Tech print used as a guide and occasional source. It’ll be both 4K and Blu-Ray, I believe. This sounds promising, but I’ll wait and see how this one shakes out before I lay down my fistful of dollars.
(November 10. 1928 – July 6, 2020)
The great composer Ennio Morricone has passed away at 91. Among his many terrific scores was the one for Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966).
Without his music, would spaghetti Westerns have been as impactful as they were?
His work that comes to mind with this news is Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1967).
Three lurid Mamie Van Doren pictures (did she make any other kind?) in one high-definition package. How cool is that?
The Girl In Black Stockings (1957)
Directed by Howard W. Koch
Starring Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft, Mamie Van Doren, John Dehner, Marie Windsor, Stuart Whitman, Dan Blocker
A girl is brutally murdered at a Utah hotel and everybody seems to have some sort of motive. Look at that cast!
Guns, Girls And Gangsters (1959)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Mamie Van Doren, Gerald Mohr, Lee Van Cleef, Paul Fix
Edward L. Cahn directs an armored car robbery picture that has both Mamie Van Doren and Lee Van Cleef in it. How could it miss? It doesn’t.
Vice Raid (1960)
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Mame Van Doren, Richard Coogan, Brad Dexter, Carol Nugent
Mamie’s a call girl sent to New York to get an un-corruptible cop in hot water. But when her sister is raped, Mamie has to turn to the framed cop for help.
Due in November, the longest of these movies is 75 minutes. Perfect.
A couple months ago, Kino Lorber announced that they were preparing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1967) for release — a set that would bring the original cut to Blu-Ray (in mono) from 4K. Though it’ll be the umpteenth time I’ve bought this movie on video, I welcome the original cut and audio in hi-def.
Now, they announced that the first two Eastwood/Leone pictures — A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) and For A Few Dollars More (1965) are getting the same treatment and will be coming later this year. They will standalone releases, not a set. I can’t wait.
Directed by Sergio Leone
Starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach
Like a lotta folks, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of my favorite movies. I could sit down and watch it every day, easy. But I couldn’t stand that restoration from 2004. While it looked terrific (aside from that yellow-ish tint on everything), the reworked surround sound drove me nuts. Unfortunately, that was the version that made its way to Blu-Ray — so I’ve clung to the old MGM pre-2004 DVD.
Sergio Leone directing one of the greatest scenes in cinema history.
I was overjoyed to learn that for the picture’s 50th anniversary, the original version would be given the deluxe 4K treatment — in the original mono! The set from Kino Lorber also gives you the extended version, also in mono. A slew of extra’s, many carried over from the previous editions, will be included. I don’t care how many times you bought this in the past, this is essential. Coming this summer.
Directed by Giulio Petroni
Starring Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law
I’m rather picky when it comes to Spaghetti Westerns. While some of them are brilliant, you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to them. Death Rides A Horse (1967) is one of the brilliant ones. Van Cleef is excellent; John Phillip Law was about to make Danger: Diabolik (1968), so he’s at his supercool best; Giulio Petroni is one of the better directors for these things; and this has to be one of Ennio Morricone’s best Western scores.
It’s been available on DVD for ages, often pan-and-scan and looking like crap, so the upcoming Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber is good news indeed. They say to look for it this summer. Highly recommended.