Friday, April 10, 2015

DAY OF ANGER (1967)

DAY OF ANGER (1967)
DVD/BD Dual Format Edition 

Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: A,B/1,2
Duration: 114 Minutes, 86 Minutes
Audio: Italian/English PCM Mono with Optional english SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1)
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma, Walter Rilla
Director: Tonino Valerii

Scott (Gemma) is a scum-of-the-Earth street sweeper in the dusty town of Clifton, Arizona, a bastard son of a whore consigned to a life of picking up trash and disrespect. All that changes when a merciless gunslinger named Frank Talby (Van Cleef) arrives in town in pursuit of a double-crossing former associate named Wild Jack (Al Mulock) who disappeared with $50,000 of his money a decade earlier. 

For reasons unknown Talby takes a liking to Scott and defends him from the locals who treat the street-cleaner like a human turd, much to the chagrin of the local folk. Fearing the townspeople might retaliate against him once the gunslinger leaves town Scott follows Talby when he eaves in search of Wild Jack. catching up to him Scott saves his life proving his worth to the gunslinger who takes him on as an apprentice of sorts, teaching his eight rules along the way which will serve the young would-be gunslinger well in the near future. 

Day of Anger is a good watch with a solid story that is surprisingly straight-forward without the political leanings of Companeros (1970) or A Bullet for the General (1970), this concerning an aging mentor and his young apprentice and their inevitable separation and show down, and the shady dealings of seemingly upright citizens of Clifton, Arizona. 

Lee Van Cleef is a rock, a soft-spoken but bad ass gunslinger, pretty much the same one he played in all of the Italian westerns to be honest, but when you have achieved stoic perfection why change it up. Giuliano Gemma's portrayal of the somewhat simple-minded apprentice is good stuff, his transformation from a sympathetic character into dominating and cocky quick-draw gunslinger makes for a quality viewing experience with some depth to it. 

There are some great lines from Van Cleef, while being doctored up after a wound the doc asks him why he turned their street-cleaner into a rabid wold, to which he replies, "He was born a wolf, but you made him rabid.", that's just great stuff. Visually the film is quite nice, some panoramic shots of the sweltering western vistas and some nicely staged gun play and whatnot, though perhaps not as stunning as Sergio Leone, but so few Westerns are and that's a bit unfair to say, even though director Tonino Valerii was a protege of Leone. 

The gun fights are pretty decent, the final showdown in not unexpected but is gripping just the same, and there's a good dialogue exchange that nicely caps off the film with one of the men having learned their lessons well. My favorite scene is a dual unlike any other I have scene in a Western, with both them riding towards each other on horses from a distance with front-loading rifles, definitely some fun stuff. 

The score from composer Riz Ortolani is pretty great, one of my favorites western scores outside of composer Ennio Morricone. Featuring some great '60s guitar work and a brass tinged opening theme that is fantastic. If you only know Ortolani from his eerie and gorgeous electronic score for Cannibal Holocaust I think you will be surprised by how great this western score is.
Audio/Video: Day of Anger is presented by arrow Video on Blu-ray with a brand-new high-definition restoration from the original Techniscope negative and it looks great, a sweaty and dusty spaghetti western framed in the scope aspect ratio with an appropriate amount of fine film grain. We have a pleasing amount of depth and fine detail to the image, the close-up shots of the sweaty visages reveal plenty pores and craggy facial features, textures of the period clothing are resolved with a surprising amount of detail. There are two viewing options, the longer 114-minute Italian version (with both English and Italian audio) and the shorter 89-minute International version, I could detect no discernible difference in image quality between the two. 

Audio options include both Italian and English PCM Mono 1.0 with Optional English SDH Subtitles. The English-dub is done quite decently but the Italian track seems to have more depth and fidelity, particularly concerning the Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust) score which is superb. 

Onto the extras Arrow Video do not disappoint with three viewing options to enjoy, the longer Italian cut with both original Italian and English-dub, and the shorter International version with English only audio. While the shorter version is just a re-edited version of the longer Italian version there is one scene not included on the longer cut that appears on the shorter version, which is included here as a stand-alone deleted scene. 

REVERSIBLE ARTWORK 
There are three interviews totalling over an hour, the first with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi who write not only many spaghetti westerns, such as The Grand Duel, but some classic giallo titles like Blade of the Ripper, all the Colors of the Dark and Torso. Additionally there's a previously unreleased interview with director Tonino Valerii and a new one with his biographer Roberto Curti. Bonus content is finished up with six-minutes of trailers for the film, a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist and the original poster art ad a booklet new writing on the film by Howard Hughes that is illustrated with original poster designs for the film.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- Brand new restoration from the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of both versions of the film: the original Italian theatrical release, and the shortened version that was screened internationally
- Original uncompressed mono audio, with English or Italian soundtracks on the longer cut and an English soundtrack on the shorter one
- Newly translated English subtitles for Italian audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for English audio
- Brand new interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (13 Mins)
- Brand new interview with Tonino Valerii’s biographer Roberto Curti (43 Mins)
- Previously unreleased 2008 interview with Tonino Valerii (11 Mins)
- Deleted scene (2 Mins)
-Theatrical trailers (6 Mins)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Howard Hughes (author of Spaghetti Westerns), illustrated with original poster designs

Great to see yet another bad ass Lee Van Cleef spaghetti Western arrive on Blu-ray

following the Grindhouse Releasing of The Big Gundown (1968). An enjoyable watch, if you love the spaghetti  westerns this is a solid entry with a fantastic score but not quite on par with the films of Sergio Leone or Sergio Corbucci in my opinion, but for a dusty shoot 'em up this is damn decent stuff. The presentation from Arrow Video is top-notch and stacked with value-added extras and worth a purchase if you're a fan of the Italian westerns. It should be noted that this is one of Arrow's first North American titles, playable in both Region A and B, the disc content is exactly the same as the UK version.

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