BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • May 17th, 2005 •

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Paramount, 1968
Panavision / Technicolor / 113 mins / Not Rated / 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio, enhanced for 16X9 Monitors.

This is a bafflingly compelling oddity with an international mix of talent who seem to signal misfire from the point of pre-production: Director, Silvio Narizzano (to cash in on the Italian Western craze, except the guy was born in Montreal, and his previous film was GEORGY GIRL), Terence Stamp as the lead (British, to cash in the mod youth movement), Yakima Canutt as 2nd Unit director and possibly co-director (to insure stunt production value, but the guy was 72 by then, and only four more stints lay before him),
Music by Manos Hadjidakis (terrific composer, if a poor man’s Mikis Theodrakis, but how did he cop the job scoring a western, set on the Mexican border? Closest thing he’d done was THE 300 SPARTANS, and that’s a stretch…), co-producer Irwin Winkler (it was only the RAGING BULL producer’s second film, otherwise it would be hard to let him off the hook in the taste department. Shortly thereafter he was still working with equines, but had shifted genres completely, to THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY?), and how about Sally Kirkland as Dialogue Coach?

One could blame Narizzano for both the weak performances, which are either played too big or, in Stamp’s case, are allowed to wallow in self-indulgence, and for the failed attempts at humor, or one could blame Yakima Canutt. So convenient, being able to hide behind a double-director scenario. Whereas Stanley Cortez stands alone as DP, and so he deserves every bit of credit for the LAWRENCE OF ARABIA level renderings within the Panavision frames. He does with clouds and sky what John Ford’s films did with clouds and mesas. And he rescues the film, because whatever else one might have to say about it, the visual beauty is impossible to deny.

Now as for Terence Stamp, who seems to have gotten lost in ego-land after some powerful debut performances, he seems to be emulating James Dean, and looking like David Hemmings. I’ve read kind words about his performance as ‘Blue’, the adoptive son of a Mexican bandit who decides to try out his Anglo roots for a while, but I don’t know how anyone could get past his mannered, sullen, surfacey performance. Maybe back then, some sexually obsessed teeny-bopper fans could have gotten past all that…maybe?

I think there are times when a bizarre failure like BLUE makes for absolutely appropriate viewing. Great laughs at its misjudgments, great appreciation for its breathtaking widescreen vistas. So check it out.

DOUBLE BILL: Another western, also with stunning cinematography, but with a completely different approach – THE APPALOOSA, from the Universal Brando Franchise. Directed by Sidney J. Furie, it’s a wildly experimental piece, and it seems as if Brando went along with it and had fun.

With Terence Stamp, Joanna Pettet, Karl Malden, Ricardo Montalban .

Directed by Silvio Narizzano.
Produced by Judd Bernard and Irwin Winkler.
Music by Manos Hadjidakis.
Cinematography by Stanley Cortez.
2nd Unit – Yakima Canutt

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