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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Hunting Party [Blu-ray]


(Don Medford, 1971)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Levy-Gardner-Laven

Video: Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 1:50:57.150

Disc Size: 27,669,211,237 bytes

Feature Size: 23,556,802,560 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.93 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 11th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 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



English, None



• Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson
Interview with Actor Mitchell Ryan (12:04)
Trailer (3:01) and for  Burnt Offerings (2:29), Prime Cut (2:34), The Organization (2:55), and The Missouri Breaks (1:49)





Description: Nobody steals from Brandt Ruger... and lives! With a stellar cast led by screen icons Gene Hackman (Prime Cut), Candice Bergen (The Magus) and Oliver Reed (Burnt Offerings), this searing western fires round after round of emotional heat with a torrid frontier love triangle that can only lead to vengeance. To cattle baron Brandt Ruger (Hackman), his beautiful wife Melissa (Bergen) is just one of his possessions. So when notorious bandit Frank Calder (Reed) kidnaps Melissa, Ruger isn't concerned about her - he's enraged that someone stole from him. Melissa finds her captor quite kind, but Ruger is organizing a posse to hunt down the pair and recover his property dead or alive. Television veteran Don Medford (The Organization) directed this violent and suspenseful western featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Simon Oakland (Bullitt), Ronald Howard (The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb), L.Q. Jones (The Wild Bunch), Mitchell Ryan (Monte Walsh) and G.D. Spradlin (North Dallas Forty).



The Film:

The Hunting Party appears to be one of these movies, where the British backers had apparently decided to give up many home-grown things in order to get a project made, and cobble together things from many different sources. So much so, that I must admit I am kind of puzzled as to why some of my sources, during my research of this movie, indicated that this was a British movie. To begin with, the events of the movie do not take place in Britain, nor are any of the characters in the movie British, even though one of the main characters is played by a British actor. The movie was not shot in Britain, but in Spain. The director, Don Medford, was American, and so were two of the three men credited with the screenplay. The music composer (Riz Ortolani, who also scored Cannibal Holocaust and The New Gladiators) was Italian, and the remaining credits are peppered with individuals from Spain. As you may have guessed, the end result is an imitation of an American genre, a western (though with some European elements that had previously found favor at the world box office for the past few years.) Hackman plays Brandt Ruger, a rich and powerful cattle baron in the American Southwest married to schoolteacher Melissa (Bergen).

Excerpt from The Unknown Movies located HERE

I can understand that the über-sensitive politically correct critics of 1971 was upset over this violent and sexual western, but it's far away from being exploitation, though it has some controversial scenes of mayhem and nudity. Mostly mayhem. What we have instead is a multi-layered story with complex characters that behave like humans, stupid humans maybe, and chooses roads that we as an audience don't expect. Frank for example is a brute, but has obviously chosen that role to lead his men into some kind of wicked victory. They follow him, but with doubts, especially after he found love in the tough Melissa. Melissa is a teacher, but lives a controlled life under the perverted Ruger. She wants more of life, and is slowly realizing that there's something else behind Franks brutal image. The flattest of the characters, compared to the others, is Ruger himself. A man obsessed by a pointless revenge. He hate his wife, but still can't imagine another man have her, but still have sex with other women himself.

Excerpt from NinjaDixon located HERE

This infamously violent British Western stars Gene Hackman as Brandt Ruger, a wealthy rancher who goes away on a hunting trip with a group of friends. While he's gone, a thug named Frank Calder (Oliver Reed) kidnaps Melissa (Candice Bergen), Brandt's wife, under the mistaken impression that she's a schoolteacher and will be able to teach him to read. Despite being taken against her will, in time Melissa begins to develop feelings for Calder, who in his way cares for her more than her husband, who treats her like a possession. Melissa has fallen in love with Calder by the time Brandt returns. However, Brandt is enraged over the abduction of his wife, and sets out on a new hunting trip, with Calder and his men as his prey. Noted character actors G.D. Spradlin and L.Q. Jones round out the supporting cast.

Excerpt from B+N 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 The Hunting Party looks decent, if a bit faded, in 1080P. The Spanish countryside look lovely, but the, well-lit, interiors tend to look superior. The source is clean, and I noticed no noise - not even in the brief night sequences. The grain is fine and there is modest depth. Colors have some brightness and flesh tones are authentic. It looks quite pleasing in-motion. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable HD viewing in regards to the picture quality.






















Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1555 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are effects in the film - mostly western-related - guns, horses and the train. They sound reasonably strong. The score by Riz Ortolani (Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eyes, The McKenzie Break, Day of Anger, Il Sorpasso, Woman Times Seven, Cannibal Holocaust, The Voyeur, Mondo Cane) adds a nice western flavor, not pasta-esque but supportive - augmented via the lossless. The dialogue was discernable and crisp. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

There is a very good audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson (author of DVD Delirium Volume 4: The International Guide to Weird and Wonderful Films on DVD & Blu-ray). I thought they gave interesting background on the production, including the film's initial reviews disliking it as violent and distasteful. They give some impressive analysis looking at the film in a modern light. There is also an informative interview with actor Mitchell Ryan for 12-minues. He relates how he was fired and rehired for the film based on being Oliver Reed's drinking buddy once in location in Spain. There is a trailer for the film and for Burnt Offerings, Prime Cut, The Organization, and The Missouri Breaks.



The Hunting Party has a very nasty character in Brandt Ruger, played by Gene Hackman, a sadistic misogynist. He's so awful that it can sour the film for many, as I believe it did on its initial release. Even though we are more desensitized today - it seems less necessary, overly harsh in the context of the story. Still an intriguing western with damaged characters and excellent performances.  The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray seems the only way to see this in 1080P. The commentary adds significant value, as does the Mitchell Ryan interview. Worth an indulgence for this imperfect, and fairly unique, western.  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 33% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

July 7th, 2017


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.

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Gary W. Tooze





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