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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Navajo Joe aka "Un dollaro a testa" [Blu-ray]


(Sergio Corbucci, 1966)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica

Video: Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 1:32:22.537 

Disc Size: 20,139,964,120 bytes

Feature Size: 18,926,094,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.95 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 18th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1600 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1600 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps






• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Gary Palmucci

Trailer (1:51) - trailers for Gator, White Lightning and Malone





Description: Relentless In His Vengeance! Deadly In His Violence! Burt Reynolds (White Lightning) stars in this lusty, gutsy action western about a fearless Indian with a relentless vendetta. A band of outlaws, headed by a sullen leader named Duncan (Aldo Sambrell, The Man with No Name Trilogy), sweeps across the country like the plague, destroying everything in its path, including an entire Indian village. The outlaws arrive in the town of Esperanza, where they are hired by a crooked doctor to hijack a bank train and share in the wealth. But the sole survivor from the Indian village, a renegade Navajo named Joe (Reynolds), foils the plan by relocating the money. An irate Duncan holds an innocent Indian girl hostage until Joe surrenders… Joe once again must take on Duncan and his ruthless comrades with unforgettable vengeance. Top-notch direction by Spaghetti Western legend Sergio Corbucci (Django, The Great Silence) with a rousing and now classic score by the legendary Ennio Morricone (Face to Face).



The Film:

Navajo Joe, the lone survivor of a massacre, promises payback for the outlaw gang that slaughtered his Indian tribe. He soon gets to avenge his people when the citizens of a small Western community appeal to him for protection from the same marauding gang. Joe quickly accepts their offer of one dollar for each outlaw scalp delivered and goes to work eliminating his enemies one by one, saving the outlaw leader until last.

After the surprise success of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), producer Dino De Laurentiis decided to produce his own spaghetti Western with an American actor who could rival Clint Eastwood in popularity. For the lead in Navajo Joe (1966), De Laurentiis needed someone who could pass as a Native American and Burt Reynolds was the ideal choice. Not only was the actor part Cherokee but he had also convincingly played other minorities on two popular TV series; in Gunsmoke, Reynolds played Quint Asper, a half-breed who worked as the town blacksmith, from 1962-1966 and in Hawk (1966-1976), he was cast as a full blooded Iroquois Indian working as a cop in New York City. Although Reynolds had his doubts about a Western in which he killed about a hundred men single handedly, De Laurentiis convinced him to sign on to his first and only spaghetti Western.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


The plot starts with an unscrupulous doctor (Pierre Cressoy), who has married into wealth and status and has grown tired of it. He teams up with a band of robbers to steal a huge pile of money so that he can skip town. Three dance hall girls and their goofy bandleader are witnesses to the dirty deal, and they are chased out of town. Navajo Joe saves them, and goes on to waylay the money. Thus begins a huge standoff between the bandits, Navajo Joe, and a town full of unarmed innocents. Of course, Joe isn't made of stone; he has his own agenda here.

Corbucci really plays up the concept of cowardice here. Not one of the town members dares to make a move to protect their money or their families. The great Spanish actor Fernando Rey plays a priest that keeps trying to appeal to the bandits' humanity, to no avail. Only the beautiful housemaid Estella (Nicoletta Machiavelli) seems brave enough to help Joe. I also loved the scene with the goofy, older bandleader who uses a slingshot/arrow trick from his stage act to rescue Joe; anyone can be brave.

Excerpt from Combustible Celluloid 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 Navajo Joe has some softness and has a few inconsistent sequences. I can only expect the source wasn't in premium condition.  There is some heaviness and thickness to the visuals. I don't suspect digital manipulation and put it solely down to the print. Colors aren't vibrant but the entire overall visual presentation seems to improve as the film runs along. The many outdoor sequences look the best but there are no crisp visuals excepting an occasional close-up. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable, but unremarkable, viewing in regards to the picture quality.


















Audio :

Kino use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 track at 1600 kbps in English (majority DUB). The sound quality reflects a Spaghetti-western of the 60's with the effects (gunfire kick) being a bit hollow but impacting. The impressive score is by Ennio Morricone (A Bullet for the General, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, U Turn, Stay As You Are etc. etc.) and is one of the highlights supporting the film with many vocals and the typical pasta-western-vibes. It sounds excellent in the lossless. There are no subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Kino include a new audio commentary by film historian Gary Palmucci (Vice President of Theatrical Distribution at Kino Lorber). He does a good job with focus on Ennio Morricone's intense score but a lot of 'selling' of the blossoming Kino library with similar titles released or as upcoming releases. It's still quite good with gaps but worth the listen, I think. There is also a trailer for Navajo Joe and trailers for Gator, White Lightning and Malone.



Navajo Joe is a decent spaghetti-western. No classic but it is good to both see Burt - in his only performance in this sub-genre - and this package has value for the impressive Morricone score in uncompressed. It is cited as being Dino De Laurentiis' answer to A Fistful of Dollars (made 2-years earlier) and is quite violent. The first line of dialogue is 18-minutes into the film. Obviously, not a Leone levels but is still worthy in many respects and good fro a double feature night, with a similar effort, for the home theatre.  The Kino Lorber Blu-ray
is far from stellar but it did give me the opportunity to see the film in 1080P and the commentary adds value. Those keen on the genre will get the most out of this. 

Gary Tooze

August 3rd, 2015



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