The following are a few of my favorite picks from this week’s Blu-Ray haul:
How about some Lee Van Mutherfuckin’ Cleef for the holidays? Well, thanks to the Blu-Ray release of The Big Gundown, you’ve got it.
Originally titled, La Resa Dei Conti, The Big Gundown is one of the best spaghetti westerns ever made. It rivals the Sergio Leone films starring Clint Eastwood that are everyone’s favorite spaghetti western.
Lee Van Cleef made a career of doing westerns in Europe. This one came right after he filmed the epic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The big change for Van Cleef’s role in this movie is that he’s basically a good guy. He was almost never a good guy in films. His squinty eyes worked against him in that regard I think.
Van Cleef is an aspiring politician and bounty hunter who goes to Mexico to hunt down a fugitive accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Think Dog the Bounty Hunter going to Mexico to bring Andrew Luster back to the US. It’s something like that.
The fugitive, played by Tomas Milian, is a slippery one, who gives Van Cleef more of a challenge than any fugitive ever before. Throughout the journey Van Cleef begins to respect the man he’s hunting.
There’s a reason this movie is considered one of the best spaghetti westerns ever made. In addition to the hunting trip, there is a subplot about Van Cleef getting support for a run for senate. So it’s got everything in it a legendary movie should have, including violence, sex, politics, and religion. The “snakebite” scene alone is enough to warrant watching this movie.
I challenge you to find a list of Top X Spaghetti Westerns that doesn’t have The Big Gundown on it.
Bonus Features on The Big Gundown:
- -Spectacular new 2K digital restoration of the uncensored English-language version Newly Expanded With Three Additional Scenes
- -La Resa Dei Conti – the complete, 110-minute director’s cut presented in Italian with optional English subtitles and special musical subtitles.
- -Bonus CD – The Big Gundown original soundtrack by Ennio Morricone
- -Exclusive, in-depth interviews with director Sergio Sollima, actor Tomas Milian and screenwriter Sergio Donati
- -Audio commentary by Western film experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke
- -24-page booklet featuring liner notes by C. Courtney Joyner and Euro-music expert Gergely Hubai
- Extensive still galleries, trailers, and TV spots
If you aren’t familiar with spaghetti Westerns beyond the Eastwood/Leone movies, this is a great place to start. Another good place to start is with any film that says, “Directed by Sergio Corbucci” on the cover. Django (1966), Companeros (1970), and The Great Silence (1968), are superb.
Ok, so this doesn’t sound like a great Blu-Ray combo pack, but it is The Muppets, and that does count for something. Anything starring The Muppets is like a new TV show starring Betty White, you watch it out of respect for the person/puppets.
In this one you get one classic Jim Henson Muppet movie, and a newer, not Jim Henson Muppet movie. There is a significant difference between them, and I think that’s due in part to the voices not being exactly right for every character. Jim Henson voiced so many characters, it’s hard to cover his absence up with voice stand-ins. The human brain is just too good at identifying the voice of people you know and love, even if those people are puppets on TV.
The Great Muppet Caper came out in between The Muppet Movie (1979), and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), but is typically the third Muppet movie people think about when they reflect on the original muppet movies. Honestly, it might not be as good as the other two, but it’s still a good Muppet movie.
The Muppet’s Treasure Island has Tim Curry in it. Need we say more?
Don’t know if this one is any good, but it comes out today, and the tragic death of Paul Williams reminds me to put a plug in here for The Bad Karma Body Count Celebrity Death Pool. We want you! Find out more here.