Review: The Big Gundown
Blu-ray: The Big Gundown (1967)
Released the same year as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Big Gundown has Lee Van Cleef once again strapping on a six shooter in the Old West and dishing out vengeance in his own inimitable style.
Making his first ever starring role, Van Cleef is Jonathan ‘Colorado’ Corbett, a bounty hunter hired to track down Mexican peasant Manuel ‘Cuchillo’ Sanchez who has been accused of an awful crime involving a 13 year old girl.
As Corbett and Cuchillo take it in turns to outwit each other during a protracted game of cat and mouse across the desolate West, circumstances allow them to team up and take on a scheming railroad baron whose family may well be involved as to why Corbett was initially hired.
Another lively score by Ennio Morricone (including the unforgettable main theme of Run Man Run) perfectly accompanies the action, which flip flops between Corbett and Cuchillo having the upper hand as their travels cross paths with a variety of characters, all of whom have their own personal agendas and are not afraid to quickly swap sides as to who they will support.
Sergio Sollima’s assured direction accompanied by the wonderful cinematography of Carlo Carlini makes for a visual treat as both the main characters are slowly drained physically and mentally as their ongoing pursuit continues.
The climax, while not entirely a huge surprise, is most definitely satisfying and left me wanting more from all the characters involved.
Making its UK Blu-ray premiere, The Big Gundown is highly recommended for anyone with even the slightest interest in the Western genre.
- 2K restorations
- Three feature presentations: La resa dei conti (110 mins): the original Italian theatrical version, presented with both Italian and English soundtracks; the original US theatrical version (90 mins); and the extended US cut (95 mins) with scenes added for television broadcast
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with writers and film experts Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman on the Italian theatrical version (2022)
- Audio commentary with film historians C Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke on the extended US cut (2013)
- Spaghetti Western Memories (2012): documentary in which director Sergio Sollima and actor Tomas Milian revisit this much-heralded western
- Tomas Milian: Acting on Instinct (2013): the genre-film star revisits The Big Gundown and reveals some of his acting secrets
- Stephen Thrower on ‘The Big Gundown’(2022): the author and musician on the unique qualities of Sollima’s classic
- Austin Fisher on ‘The Big Gundown’(2022): the author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema situates the film in the wider context of the genre
- Original US theatrical trailers
- Original Italian theatrical trailer
- TV spots
- Image galleries: production stills and promotional material
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Italian cinema expert Roberto Curti, archival interviews with Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, and Sergio Sollima, extracts from the film’s promotional materials, an examination of the work of co-screenwriter Franco Solinas, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and full film credits
- Limited edition exclusive poster
- UK premiere on any home video format
- Limited edition of 5,000 copies
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.