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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

One-Eyed Jacks [Blu-ray]


(Marlon Brando, 1961)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Pennebaker Productions

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #844



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

Runtime: 2:21:23.516

Disc Size: 46,236,710,649 bytes

Feature Size: 35,476,260,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.59 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 22nd, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none


New introduction by Scorsese (2:55)
Excerpts from voice recordings director and star Marlon Brando made during the development of the film’s script (33:38)

A Million Feet of Film (23:09)
New video essays on the film’s production history and on its potent combination of the stage and screen icon Brando with the classic Hollywood western genre (24:02)
Trailer (4:44)
PLUS: An essay by film critic Howard Hamptons






Description: This is a western like no other, combining the mythological scope of that most American of genres with the searing naturalism of a performance by Marlon Brando—all suffused with Freudian overtones and masculine anxiety. In his only directing stint, Brando captures rugged coastal and desert landscapes in gorgeous widescreen, Technicolor images, and elicits from his fellow actors (including Karl Malden and Pina Pellicer) nuanced depictions of conflicted characters. Though the production was overwhelmed by its director’s perfectionism and plagued by setbacks and studio reediting, One-Eyed Jacks stands as one of Brando’s great achievements, thanks above all to his tortured turn as Rio, a bank robber bent on revenge against his former partner in crime. Brooding and romantic, Rio is the last and perhaps the most tender of the iconic outsiders that the great actor imbued with such intensity throughout his career.



The Film:

Fascinating to see Brando directing this revenge Western - double-crossed by Malden, his outlaw partner, he erupts from the past to haunt the older man, now a lawman and proud father - exactly as he acts, so that the whole movie smoulders in a manner that is mean, moody and magnificent. At its origin is a novel by Charles Neider which, though changing the names, retold the story of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Brando's further changes (Rio/Billy now kills rather than is killed by Dad Longworth/Garrett) were evidently made with a view to indicting shifty, mendacious society as the real villain. The Freudian intentions lurking in the character conflicts and the card symbolism, the homosexual and Oedipal intimations, are underpinned by the extraordinary settings. Surely uniquely in a Western, the key scenes are played out against the rocky Monterey sea coast, with waves crashing portentously in the background, so that nature echoes the Romantic agony of a hero much given to brooding in corners or gazing out into space shrouded in his Byronic cape. The result, laced with some fine traditional sequences and stretches of masochistic violence, is a Western of remarkable though sometimes muddled power.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Marlon Brando's only film as director, One-Eyed Jacks (1961) was the Heaven's Gate of its day. Famously over-budget and overlong, this Western melodrama has, in recent years, earned critical praises as a psychologically fascinating and visually stunning entry into the genre. Based on the 1956 Charles Neider novel, The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones, the film draws heavily on the legend of Billy the Kid, particularly Billy's relationship to Pat Garrett. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the first to turn the novel into a screenplay was none other than Sam Peckinpah, who would go on to direct his own version of the story in 1973 entitled Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid starring Kris Kristofferson.

With Peckinpah's script, Pennebaker Productions (Brando's film company) approached the young Stanley Kubrick. Brando had been impressed with Kubrick's first two features, Killer's Kiss (1955) and The Killing (1956) and he was convinced that Kubrick was the right man for the job. "We've got to get Kubrick," he is reported to have said. Kubrick agreed to direct but insisted on a new script by Calder Willingham. Karl Malden signed on and the producer, Frank Rosenberg, went to Mexico to search for an actress to play the young love interest. He returned after signing Pina Pellicer for her first film role.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


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

One-Eyed Jacks looks brilliant on Blu-ray from Criterion and is cited as a "New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by Universal Pictures in partnership with The Film Foundation and in consultation with filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg". The colors are stunning and the restoration magnificently maintains the integrity of the film's colors, and source density. Being hyper-critical it looked a shade thin to me in a couple of spots, not as much texture as I would have thought and some very minor edge-enhancement. But, for the most part, this is an absolutely mesmerizing image in-motion. I was floored. This dual-layered Blu-ray, with very high bitrate, produces an impressive 1080P presentation. Wow.






















Audio :

Criterion stay authentic using a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit) - that carries subtle depth in the blowing wind, horses hooves and surprising depth in the gunplay and cracking whip. The score is by Hugo Friedhofer (Two Flags West, Man in the Attic, Ace in the Hole, Body and Soul, Gilda, The Bishop's Wife) and carries the western well with a pleasing theme sounding strong via the uncompressed rendering. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion add some good supplements. We get a new, 3-minute, introduction by Martin Scorsese recorded in 2016 by The Film Foundation on the occasion of the Cannes Film Festival's special presentation of the restoration of the film. During the development of One-Eyed Jacks, actor-director Marlon Brando made voice recordings of his ideas for every scene. Criterion include 33-minutes of excerpts from that audio that highlights differences between it and the finished film. A Million Feet of Film is a 23-minute new video essay on the production history of One-Eyed Jacks written and recorded by western blogger Toby Roan, who has been gathering memorabilia from, and facts about, Brando's singular directorial effort - since 1978. I Ain't Hung Yet is another new video essay - it is by filmmaker and critic David Cairns who considers the potency of actor-director Marlon Brando's take on the classical Hollywood western in One-Eyed Jacks, through a close examination of the film's framing, editing and other storytelling devices. There is also a long trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by film critic Howard Hamptons.



One-Eyed Jacks
has gained the reputation, over the years, as a lost classic with its initial poor response and lack of viewing availability. This restoration has breathed new life into the film exposing to generations that were unaware of its existence. It's a wonderfully unique take on western lore and a gorgeous film to watch. Brando is as captivating as ever and the support performances are super. This Blu-ray package is an easy recommendation. Fascinating cinema and a brilliant 4K restoration make it irresistible. Enjoy!

Gary Tooze

October 18th, 2016


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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