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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def discs by Gary W. Tooze

A Fistful of Dollars (aka 'Per un pugno di dollari') [Blu-ray]


(Sergio Leone, 1964)



Click logo's to order:

NOTE: the 4K UHD of A Fistful of Dollars is Reviewed HERE


Review by Gary Tooze


Studio: Sony

Video: RHV (Ripley's Home Video)



Region: FREE NOTE: This Blu-ray is REGION FREE and will play on Blu-ray players around the world!

Feature Runtime: 1:39:54

Chapters: 18

Feature film disc size: 24.6 Gig

One single-layered Blu-ray

Case: Custom book-style case

Release date: October 7th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1


Italian TrueHD PCM 5.1, Italian 1.0, English: 1.0

Feature: Italian, English or none


Documentary on Sergio Leone (1:48:50 - PAL - in Italian / no subtitles)

On the Restoration (17:28 - PAL - in Italian / no subtitles)
Trailer (in HD) 3:39 in Italian

NOTE There is more but it is both in PAL and Italian and I don't really know what it is.


Product Description: Clint Eastwood's legendary "Man With No Name" makes his powerful debut in this thrilling, action-packed "new breed of western" (Motion Picture Herald) from the acclaimed director of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and For a Few Dollars More. Exploding with blistering shootouts, dynamic performances and atmospheric cinematography, it's an undisputed classic of the genre. A mysterious gunman (Eastwood) has just arrived in San Miguel, a grim, dusty border town where two rival bands of smugglers are terrorizing the impoverished citizens. A master of the "quick-draw,"the stranger soon receives offers of employment from each gang. But his loyalty cannot be bought; he accepts both jobs...and sets in motion a plan to destroy both groups of criminals, pitting one against the other in a series of brilliantly orchestrated setups, showdowns and deadly confrontations...




The Film:

A Fistful of Dollars is an unofficial remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, a lifting of the themes and style of that samurai film that eventually ended with a settlement brought by a lawsuit from Kurosawa himself (for what it's worth, Kurosawa bestowed praise on Leone's film). Interesting to note is that the film that was once seen as borrowing from the works of another would be even more influential in the world of film for what new material its director and composer brought into it than what it would take from others. Minimalist characterizations, sparse conversations, highly-stylized shootouts, a surprising injection of comic relief, and a sentimental, almost melancholy presentation that brings a certain feeling of desolation and prolonged misery that is a byproduct of the amorality and anarchy that represented this part of the old West -- it's all part and parcel of Leone's vision that would set the tone for antiheroes to dominate the genre from here on out.



Eastwood, who had some success prior to this film in bit roles and on television in the popular Western series, "Rawhide", catapulted to stardom after the international release of the "Dollars" trilogy, and for good reason. Perhaps not since John Wayne himself had an actor so prominently evoked a feeling of screen presence, a man who says little, does much, and always seems to have the upper hand, even when the chips are down. His intelligence, charisma, and squinty-eyed looks made him a man worth watching, and someone you want to believe in. Though not the first choice for the part, it's hard to imagine any of the other considered actors (Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, James Coburn -- three actors that Leone would use in later films) to be as commanding in the prolonged quiet and carry the same aura of calculated, measured dominance...

Excerpt from Vince Leo's review at Quipsters located HERE


NOTE: the 4K UHD of A Fistful of Dollars is Reviewed HERE


Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly - big thanks to Pasquale for altering me to the existence of this region free Blu-ray.

Great news - this is from a recent restoration made by Cineteca Nazionale and Ripley's Film. It looks very impressive in 1080P - and the film will celebrate its 35th birthday soon! Now, it's not perfect - there is noise - heavier than some may appreciate but detail and colors are far better than I have ever seen from this film before. Grain is present and overall it looks quite film-like to me. The features takes up a respectable 35 Gig on a dual-layered Blu-ray. No digital manipulation that I could see and you may view the expandable captures below to see the image in full 1080 resolution. 

















Audio & Music:  
Blu-ray offers a wonderful Italian TrueHD PCM 5.1 track that is a ton of fun. We have some aggressive moments and despite its lack of originality it's a great way to enjoy the film and Ennio Morricone's enchanting score (he is listed in the credits as Dan Savio). We have both Italian mono and English mono tracks available as well as Italian and English optional subtitles.


English-locked audiences lose here with the 1.5 hour Leone documentary being in PAL and Italian only (no subtitles). There are some other featurettes, one on the restoration, but they are also in PAL and Italian only. We do get an Italian trailer in HD running 3:39. There is also a nice, fairly thick book - but all in Italian and a leaflet with many pages appearing to have been signed by Sergio Leon (not printed on ?!?) and 10 great postcard-sized title card and posters.




Bottom line:
I'm thrilled to pieces with this
. One of the seminal Spaghetti Westerns - looking and sounding marvelous. What a treat. I didn't find it hard to order from DVD.IT but it did take its time crossing the pond. Still - I own it now and am so happy to have it in the collection. Hopefully more from the trilogy and other Leone works will come to 1080P soon. Great job RHV!   

Gary Tooze

November 12th, 2008


NOTE: the 4K UHD of A Fistful of Dollars is Reviewed HERE



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

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Gary W. Tooze






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