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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Richard Fleischer
USA 1973

 

A criminally underrated and explosively violent gangster saga from director Richard Fleischer, The Don Is Dead features one of the all-time great casts of tough guy actors: legendary multiple Oscar®-winner Anthony Quinn, Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), and Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now) are joined by Al Lettieri (The Getaway), Joe Santos (The Friends of Eddie Coyle), Abe Vigoda (The Godfather), Vic Tayback (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), Victor Argo (Taxi Driver), and Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses). Riddled with as many double crosses as bullet hits, The Don Is Dead is like a gritty 70s pulp paperback come to bloody life.

After his Vegas crime family don father dies, Frank Regalbuto (Forster) now places his loyalties with Don Angelo DiMorra (Quinn), but a rival family wants to trigger a gang war and destroy the DiMorra clan. They make Frank think that his girlfriend Ruby (Prime Cut's Angel Tomkins) is locked in an affair with Don Angelo, hoping Frank will take revenge. Enlisting the Fargo brothers hit men, Tony (Forrest) and Vince (Lettieri) -- who have some nasty sibling rivalry issues of their own -- Frank is determined to rise to the top and wreak vengeance, no matter the body count that results.

Fleischer directed The Don Is Dead just after his science fiction classic from the same year, Soylent Green, and this just demonstrates the eclectic filmmaker's versatility. Also responsible for everything from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Fantastic Voyage (1966) to Doctor Dolittle (1967) and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Fleischer could clearly do it all, but he was at his best with riveting thrillers like The Boston Strangler (1968), Compulsion (1959), and the noir classic The Narrow Margin (1952). The Don Is Dead fits in with those suspenseful shockers, and is ripe for rediscovery.

***

Power Built an Empire… Passion Destroyed It! When the reigning Don dies, a bloody, all-out power struggle ensues to determine who will be the next Capo. Don Angelo (Quinn), a notorious crime czar, is poised to take control of the Syndicate. But when he discovers that an ambitious lieutenant (Robert Forster, Jackie Brown) from his own family has become a rival for the love of his beautiful mistress, the Don vows to turn the streets red with the blood of the traitor, triggering an internal mob war of wills and weapons in this hard-hitting tale of betrayal, ambition and revenge. 

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Theatrical Release: November 14th, 1973

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Review: Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Also coming to Blu-ray from Kino in March 2021:

  

Distribution Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:53:38.728        
Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,104,478,007 bytes

Feature: 36,581,823,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.31 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Eureka

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,104,478,007 bytes

Feature: 36,581,823,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.31 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Brand new feature length audio commentary by author Scott Harrison
Theatrical trailer (1:43)
PLUS: A collector's booklet featuring an extensive essay on the crime films of director Richard Fleischer by film writer and journalist Barry Forshaw


Blu-ray Release Date:
January 18th, 2021
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Eureka Blu-ray (January 2021): Eureka have transferred Richard Fleischer's The Don is Dead to Blu-ray. This is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. The image is consistent with grain textures - clean, authentic colors and solid contrast on the 1080P transfer. WE will compare to the Kino coming out later this year - but I suspect it will be similar. In any case I have no issues with the image quality of this Eureka HD presentation.

NOTE: We have added 44 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Eureka use a linear PCM 2.0 channel track (24-bit) in the original English language. The film has plenty of gunplay effects - quite explosive plus other aggressive elements (explosion, fire, car crashes etc.). The score by Jerry Goldsmith (Link, Breakout, The Salamander, The Mephisto Waltz, Seconds, Hoosiers, The Blue Max, Breakheart Pass, The Omen) supports the film well adding to the 'tough guy' atmosphere via the uncompressed. Eureka offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'B' Blu-ray.

The Eureka Blu-ray offers a new commentary by Scott Harrison. I've enjoyed his commentaries and essays in the past. He immediately states that this is one of the best, and most stylish, gangster films to come out of The Godfather wave (he talks extensively about Coppola's film), he discusses the mood of the country in the mid 70s and the popularity of the film's  genre. He talks about Quinn and Fleischer. He takes breaks. There is still a lot here although not always specific to The Don is Dead. His pace is measured and he is informative. I enjoyed it. There is also a theatrical trailer and the package has a collector's booklet featuring an extensive essay on the crime films of director Richard Fleischer by film writer and journalist Barry Forshaw.   

Richard Fleischer's The Don is Dead is  uncompromising - a harsh mob film. I saw it decades ago and it's not easy to forget. This film is a nontaable to have been adapted, from Marvin H. Albert pulpy novel, by Christopher Trumbo son of blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. He also worked on the Nakia TV series with Robert Forster. Typical of the director this can be seen as a cold, realistic, expression - violent yet polished. I was in the mood for The Don is Dead and I found the Eureka Blu-ray very satisfying. It offers a commentary and booklet. Really an exceptionally well realized mob film from the early 70's Recommended!

Gary Tooze

 


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Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Bonus Captures:

Also coming to Blu-ray from Kino in March 2021:

  

Distribution Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray


 


 

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