Tuesday, May 12, 2015

MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE (1967)

MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE (1967)

Label: Blue Underground 

Region Code: region FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 100 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono, Italian DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English SDH, French, Spanish, English for Italian Version Subtitles 
Video: HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Luigi Bazzoni
Cast:  Franco Nero, Tina Aumont, Klaus Kinski, Franco Ressel

Synopsis: When stalwart Spanish soldier Don Jose (Franco Nero of DJANGO) meets the stunningly beautiful Carmen (Tina Aumont of TORSO), he becomes instantly obsessed with the mysterious gypsy woman. After discovering she has cheated on him with his Lieutenant, Jose kills the officer during a brawl and flees the city. Forced to become a bandit, Jose partners with Carmen's villainous husband Garcia (Klaus Kinski of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE) to rob a stagecoach and prove his love for the seductive femme fatale. 

This one is also deceptively known as With Django Comes Death and stars g the steely-eyed Franco Nero (Django) as Don Jose, a Spanish soldier who becomes absolutely intoxicated by a gorgeous young gypsy woman named Carmen (Tina Aumont).  Thus unhealthy infatuation with the young woman pulls him into her world of thievery and smuggling despite his noble intentions, so enraptured by her wide-eyed beauty he is willing to risk imprisonment to have her to himself, and what guy hasn't been there, am I right? 

What we come to find out is that the young Carmen is quite a manipulator of men, now blinded by lust Jose is powerless to deny the attraction, which puts him on the run from the law when he accidentally murders a superior officer with whom Carmen is involved with. Carmen has the tendency to bring out the green-eyed monster in men, and it's hard to fault him for it, she's quite a vision.

Now on the run as a wanted murderer Jose joins a group of thieves with which Carmen is affiliated and begins planning a heist in hopes of grabbing enough money to begin a new life together in America. A wrench is thrown into the works when Carmen's estranged husband, played by the mad man Klaus Kinski, shows up things turn from bad to worse when treachery and jealousy erupt between the men. 

Man, Pride and Vengeance strays from the typical Spaghetti Western tropes of vengeance, violence and gun play and focuses more on the manipulation and betrayal of Don Jose, whose blind desire for a pretty face proves to be his undoing. This one is deliberately paced and punctuated with some stunning cinematography, if you're looking for an Italian Western that offers something different with a bit more emotional depth Man, Pride and Vengeance is quite a find. 

Audio/Video: Blue Underground presents Man, Pride and Vengeance on Blu-ray for the very first time in North America with a brand new HD transfer sourced from the original negative. At first glance this is quite a sight, wonderfully saturated colors come through vibrantly but upon closer inspection we have some odd digital noise infiltrating the image, sort of masking the fact that the fine detail is lacking. In fact the grain structure seems off. Not sure what exactly is going on here but the digital noise seems to masking a lack of film grain, the natural grain should be alive and move with the image but this is something different. Nero's blue officer's uniform and piercing blue eyes pop off the screen, but the black levels seem to suffer quite a bit during a fantastic knife fight towards the end of the film, the intense action is difficult to follow with poor contrast and shadow detail, which is unfortunate as the knife fight between Kinski and Nero is rather intense. 

Audio options include both the original Italian DTS-HD MA Mono audio and the English-dub, both are solid but I found the English dubbing of Carmen to grate on my nerves, the character is already a manipulative woman but the dubbing makes every line overwrought and insufferable. 

Extras on the disc include an informative Audio Commentary with Journalists C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke who seem to be the go-to guys for Italian Western commentaries, having done commentary for both The Big Gundown and Companeros recently. There's also interviews with Franco Nero and Camera Operator Vittorio Storaro who fondly recall their longtime friendship with each other and director Luigi Bazzoni and what a joy it was to come together on the project. Finishing up extras are a selection of trailers and a poster and stills gallery. 

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Journalists C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke (
- Interview with Star Franco Nero and Camera Operator Vittorio Storaro
- International Trailer
- Italian Trailer
- Poster and Still Gallery

Spaghetti Western fans might be a slightly disappointed by the lack of gun play and epic showdowns, but this is a pretty decent tale of infatuation, lust and betrayal with a great finale bolstered by some fine cinematography. Man, Pride and Vengeance is yet another gem of an Italian Western cinema now on Blu-ray courtesy of the folks over at Blue Underground, only slightly marred by an odd PQ quirk. *** 3/5 

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