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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Billy Two Hats [Blu-ray]

 

(Ted Kotcheff, 1974)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Algonquin

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:49.692

Disc Size: 23,808,120,312 bytes

Feature Size: 19,968,043,008 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.52 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 15th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1647 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1647 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Interview with Director Ted Kotcheff (11:28)
Trailers for Billy Two Hats (3:59), Moby Dick (3:13), On the Beach (4:46)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Hollywood legend Gregory Peck (On the Beach) stars in this colorful, thrill-packed western produced by legendary filmmaker Norman Jewison (The Cincinnati Kid) and directed by the acclaimed Ted Kotcheff (Wake in Fright) with a screenplay by the great Alan Sharp (Night Moves). The first western to be shot on location in Israel, it s a grand and glorious adventure pulsating with noble camaraderie, relentless action and forbidden romance. Archie Dean (Peck) and his young partner, Billy (Dezi Arnaz, Jr., House of the Long Shadows), are bandits by trade, staging daring robberies throughout the American frontier. But when their latest heist takes a deadly turn, they are pursued by a ruthless marshal (Jack Warden, The Verdict) who s determined to bring them in dead or alive! A compelling saga of the wild west that features brilliant cinematography (Brian West, Wake in Fright), rugged landscapes and cliffhanging excitement, Billy Two Hats is dynamic and spellbinding a must for every western fan. Co-starring David Huddleston (The Big Lebowski).

 

 

The Film:

Though Desi Arnaz plays the title role, Gregory Peck is top billed in Billy Two Hats. Arnaz plays a thief who teams up with Scottish bank bandit Peck. A botched robbery results in a tiny amount of cash and an accidental killing. Peck rescues the captured Billy, enduring a leg wound in the process. While resting in the home of an old rancher, Peck goes off in search of a doctor, while Billy enjoys the sexual favors of the rancher's young wife. This interruption in the bandits' escape enables Indian-hating sheriff Jack Warden to catch up with Arnaz and Peck. A last-reel shoot-out ensues, involving sheriff's deputies, the rancher, and a band of Indian renegades. Billy Two Hats (reissued as The Lady and the Outlaw) was the first American western to be filmed in Israel.

Excerpt from MRQE HERE

 

The first American Western to be filmed in Israel. Director Ted Kotcheff ("Life at the Top"/"Fun With Dick and Jane"/"North Dallas Forty") keeps it slow-paced and scenic. Kotcheff stumbles when he tries too hard to make the familiar buddy movie premise fresh (like one last robbery before retiring for a straight life), but gets a star-like performance from Gregory Peck as the bushy bearded aging Bible-thumping outlaw suffering from loneliness and who speaks with a thick Scottish burr. It's written by Alan Sharp (Penn's Night Moves and Aldrich's Ulzana's Raid), who never makes much hay with his awkward statements about racial prejudice.

Excerpt from Ozu's World located HERE

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

The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Billy Two Hats looks far better than I was anticipating - especially after seeing the trailer. Colors are bright and detail in close-ups is solid. It is in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. There is some pleasing film-like thickness to the visuals. The many outdoor sequences look strong. The source is clean, and I noted no noise and not much depth. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable, and probably accurate, viewing in regards to the picture quality.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1647 kbps in the original English language. There are mostly gun-related effects in the film, horses and a fire in the conclusion. Modest depth is notable. The score is by John Scott (Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, The Final Countdown, Wake in Fright) and does well supporting the film's landscapes and suspenseful build. It all sounds fine with clear consistent dialogue. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Kino include a new 12-minute interview with director Ted Kotcheff talking about the film, plus there are trailers for Billy Two Hats, Moby Dick, On the Beach.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Billy Two Hats is an odd but appealing western adventure. It has elements of being a 'buddy picture' or even a 'road picture' with the anti-hero protagonists on the run. There is suspense and action. I liked Jack Warner and Peck! The Kino Lorber Blu-ray gave me the opportunity to see the film... and in 1080P. For that I am grateful to have had another chance to see an effort by fellow Torontonian Ted Kotcheff. Certainly, it is worth a spin for fans of the genre, Peck or the director. It is no masterpiece but does have a unique edge to it. 

Gary Tooze

September 4th, 2015

 

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 5000 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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

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

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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