Release Date(s)1966 (June 1, 2021)
Studio(s)B.R.C. Produzione Film/Tecisa/Euro International Films (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: A-
In the wake of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, a slew of Italian westerns came in its wake. It was one of Italy’s most profitable genres, inside the country and elsewhere in the world. Realizing that there was more money to be made in them thar Yojimbo-inspired hills, Sergio Corbucci also took a stab at adapting the story of a lone gunslinger, only this lone gunslinger would be toting a coffin with an oversized machine gun inside. The resulting film was Django, a name that’s now synonymous with Italian westerns, spawning sequels (unofficial or otherwise) and inspiring Quentin Tarantino to make his own Django western many decades later. And because of Django’s success, Franco Nero became an enormous star, as well as a familiar face within the genre.
Django (Nero), a wandering gunman who drags a coffin behind him, comes upon a group of men beating the prostitute Maria (Loredana Nusciak). After rescuing her, he takes her to a nearby saloon and hotel. She and the rest of the townspeople all live in fear of the rivaling Confederate and Mexican armies, led by Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo) and General Hugo (Jose Bodalo), both of whom ride into town on a regular basis. They become hopeful once they realize that Django is a one-man army and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. When Jackson and his men arrive, Django kills the majority of them with his secret weapon. Afterwards, Hugo rides in, and since he and Django appear to be old friends, Django tells him about Jackson’s secret stash of gold. But after Django attempts to steal it out from under Hugo when he refuses to share it, he’s caught and wounded severely. Left with little to no hope, he must now defend himself against both Hugo and Jackson, even as Maria continues to long for him.
Following Django is Texas, Adios (aka Texas, addio), which was released in some territories as a sequel, even though the story and characters have nothing to do with it. Texans Burt Sullivan (Nero) and his little brother Jim (Alberto Dell’Acqua, credited as Cole Kitosch) head across the border into Mexico in search of the dangerous, land-owning tyrant Cisco Delgado (Jose Suarez), who murdered their father when they were young. Burt, a lawman himself, is out for justice more than revenge, vowing to bring Delgado back to Texas to stand trial by whatever means necessary. Along their route, Delgado and his men give them trouble, but the locals are fed up with living under Delgado’s thumb, threatening to revolt. A bizarre and almost American-esque western that mixes various elements together, Texas, Adios has an obvious off-brand quality, making it far from your typical Spaghetti Western. It’s not an entirely successful film, but it winds up as an interesting relic of the transition into what Spaghetti Westerns would become, though the style and formula hadn’t been worked out yet.
Django was shot on 35 mm Eastmancolor film using spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented theatrically at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. For this new Ultra HD release, Arrow Video has undertaken a native 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative and graded the result for high dynamic range (Dolby Vision and HDR10 options are available). It’s a gorgeous and highly-detailed image that appears wonderfully film-like. Grain is generally moderate, with tight encoding, though the optically-printed opening credits show a reduction in fine detail compared to the rest of the presentation. Every last strand of hair, speck of dirt, and drip of sweat is on full display. Eastmancolor films have always had a particular look, and the HDR pass has preserved this while widening the gamut to allow for much richer hues. The prostitutes’ dresses are awash with color and detail, and reds are a bright crimson. Blacks are deeper, with far more shadow detail visible, and skin tones are more natural. The boost in contrast allows for everything to appear clear and precise without ever seeming foggy or oversaturated. The presentation is also incredibly clean, with stable images and no major leftover age and handling-related damage to speak of. This is easily the best the film has ever looked on home video.
The audio is presented in either English or Italian Mono DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English subtitles to accompany both tracks. Depending upon which language is chosen in the main menu, the opening and closing credits will appear in English or Italian. The English track is a tad quieter, with more obvious hiss. Both tracks are similar in terms of treble, particularly for the score and sound effects, but the Italian track’s dubbing sounds flatter. The tracks are otherwise clean and free of any dropouts or distortion. Each is solid, but in terms of the overall quality of the performances, the Italian track is by far the better choice.
Texas, Adios was shot on 35 mm Techniscope film using anamorphic lenses, finished photochemically, and presented theatrically at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. For this Blu-ray release, Arrow Video has undertaken a 2K restoration of the film’s original two-perf 35 mm camera negative. The results are mostly pleasing, with minor bumps along the way. Grain levels are generally moderate but tightly encoded, allowing for an enjoyable presentation with good detail in costumes, skin textures, and environments. Everything is mostly in focus with good clarity, although it wavers slightly in a few scenes. Saturation is largely pleasant, with strong earth tones and occasional splashes of red and green for blood and foliage. Skin tones are also appropriately warm. Blacks are deep with good contrast and the overall image is stable. The biggest hiccup is some leftover damage, which might not have been in the budget to fully repair (Arrow’s team certainly did the best they could with what they had). Occasional scratches are visible, but what seems to be emulsion damage is obvious in a few scenes. It doesn’t last very long, but it stands out. An alternate source, such as an interpositive, was likely not available to replace these moments. A couple of shots also appear a little too clean, as if they were excessively scrubbed. All of that said, the overall presentation is a major step up from its DVD counterpart.
The audio is presented in either English or Italian Mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles for both tracks. Like Django, depending upon which language is chosen in the main menu, the credits will either be in English or Italian. The English track offers lower treble and much narrower dubbing, while the score and sound effects have greater impact. The Italian track has more obvious hiss, but dialogue seems a tad more natural by comparison, even though it’s flatter, and the score sometimes disappears into the background. Both tracks are otherwise clean and free of any dropouts or distortion. In terms of the quality of performances, both tracks have their pros and cons, so your mileage may vary.
DJANGO (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A/B
TEXAS, ADIOS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B+/B
The following extras are also included:
DISC ONE: DJANGO (UHD)
- Audio Commentary with Stephen Prince
- Django Never Dies (HD – 26:07)
- Cannibal of the Wild West (HD – 25:48)
- Sergio, My Husband (HD – 27:48)
- That’s My Life: Part 1 (HD – 10:16)
- A Rock ‘n’ Roll Scriptwriter (HD – 11:03)
- A Punch in the Face (HD – 18:43)
- Discovering Django (HD – 23:33)
- An Introduction by Alex Cox (Upscaled SD – 12:04)
- Italian Trailer (HD – 2:58)
- International Trailer (HD – 2:58)
- Stills Gallery (HD – 9 in all)
- Posters Gallery (HD – 15 in all)
- Lobby Cards Gallery (HD – 82 in all)
- Press Gallery (HD – 11 in all)
- Home Video Gallery (HD – 11 in all)
In the audio commentary with the late critic and film historian Stephen Prince, he discusses the film’s sense of humor and style, complicated characters, thematic moments, the cast and crew, and the film’s content as it happens. In Django Never Dies, Franco Nero speaks about his career, how he met Sergio Corbucci, being cast, receiving offers for other films, shooting the film, when Sergio Leone and Burt Reynolds visited the set, enjoying his time with Corbucci, other members of the cast, shooting on film, the fight scenes, the film’s cult status, showing it to others while working on Camelot, the music, the film’s success worldwide, working on Django Unchained, other Django films, and why the film works. In Cannibal of the Wild West, assistant director Ruggero Deodato discusses working with and getting advice from Corbucci, working in Spain, other Italian westerns, other actors who were considered for Django, where Corbucci got the idea for the coffin, the muddy set, working with Franco Nero, not being credited on the film, falling out with Corbucci, the ear severing scene, not being remembered for his contributions, and moving on to other films. In Sergio, My Husband, wife of Sergio Corbucci, Nori Corbucci, talks about Sergio not getting much money for his work, various actors that he worked with, his working style, his screenplays, choosing Franco Nero, Ruggero Deodato, The Great Silence, violence in his films, working with her husband, his passing, films today, Corbucci’s popularity, and his interest in the Mexican Revolution. That’s My Life: Part 1 features an archival interview with screenwriter Franco Rossetti who speaks about his relationships with Corbucci and Piero Vivarelli, and other films that he worked on. A Rock ‘n’ Roll Screenwriter features an archival interview with co-writer Piero Vivarelli in which he discusses being a genre director, his film background, war films, working on Django, where the name Django came from, working with Corbucci, and how Corbucci lost an eye. A Punch in the Face features an archival interview with stuntman Gilberto Galimberti, who talks about his background, working on Cleopatra, his memories of Django, other films he worked on, and his process. Discovering Django features author Austin Fisher who talks about the film at length, including the many non-sequels, its place within Spaghetti Western lore, its exposure all over world, using footage of it in The Harder They Come, Sergio Corbucci, other films in the genre, the film’s content and how it’s laid out, the unexplained opening, Franco Nero, the film’s status critically at the time, Quentin Tarantino’s influence on young viewers, and the structure of the film. In director Alex Cox’s archival introduction, he discusses many of the same subjects. The various still galleries add up to 128 images of promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, press packages, and home video artwork.
DISC TWO: TEXAS, ADIOS (BD)
- Audio Commentary with C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke
- The Sheriff Is in Town (HD – 20:19)
- Jump Into the West (HD – 33:46)
- That’s My Life: Part 2 (HD – 9:19)
- Hello Texas! (HD – 16:24)
- Italian Trailer (HD – 2:42)
- Stills Gallery (HD – 8 in all)
- Posters Gallery (HD – 13 in all)
- Lobby Cards Gallery (HD – 29 in all)
- Press Gallery (HD – 8 in all)
- Home Video Gallery (HD – 6 in all)
In the audio commentary with authors and critics C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke, they discuss the film in relation to other westerns, the cinematography and set design, Franco Nero playing a lawman, the score, the film’s American sensibilities, influences from other filmmakers, the film being marketed as a Django sequel, the use of flashbacks, shooting Italian films in Spain, the plot, the lack of blood, the various supporting actors, the initial lack of sympathy for the leading characters, the fight scenes, the English dubbing, the structure, casual death and villains in Spaghetti Westerns, the lack of any real romance, unusual psychological aspects of the film, how unclear aspects of the backstory are and if the various dubbings are to blame, the visual design of certain scenes, how difficult it is to get hard shadows in daylight, shooting schedules and attitudes in Europe, how little the female characters have to do, dirty war tactics by both good guys and bad guys, and the final confrontation. In The Sheriff Is in Town, Franco Nero discusses how the film is more of an American western, where it was shot, director Ferdinando Baldi, his character, playing a sheriff, seeing Clint Eastwood at a party, Alberto Dell'Acqua, Jose Suarez, women’s roles in westerns, riding horses, meeting John Wayne, being comfortable with weapons, his feelings about weapons in real life, meeting with Joshua Logan for Camelot, and his final thoughts. In Jump Into the West, actor Alberto Dell'Acqua talks about being hired for the film, his friendship with Franco Nero, getting into acting, other films he appeared in, an accident on the set of Seven Guns for the MacGregors, his relationship with producer Manolo Bolognini, not having an agent, shooting in Spain, working with Ferdinando Baldi, his pseudonyms, having a rivalry with Ron Ely, working in Turkey, his background as a circus performer, other accidents he’s had while working on other films, fond memories of acting with John Ireland, fistfights and stuntmen, his philosophy about working with directors, making his children happy by not acting anymore, and getting heatstroke on the set of Texas, Adios. In That’s My Life: Part 2, the archival interview with screenwriter Franco Rossetti continues as he covers his working relationships with Ferdinando Baldi, Riccardo Freda, and Roberto Girometti. In Hello Texas!, Austin Fisher returns to talk about the film, including its place within Spaghetti Western genre development, director Ferdinando Baldi and his work in the genre, politicizing the genre, the film’s lack of obvious style, and the film’s rebranding as a sequel to Django. The various still galleries add up to 64 images of posters, lobby cards, press packages, and home video artwork.
Included in this set is a 56-page insert booklet containing cast and crew information for both films, The D Is Silent: A Legend Is Born, Django Story: The Legend Continues, and Cut to the Action: The Films of Ferdinando Baldi by Howard Hughes; The Other Side of Italian Cinema, Django: Contemporary Reviews, and Texas, Adios: Contemporary Reviews by Roberto Curti; Sergio Corbucci on Django; and restoration details. Also included are 6 insert cards featuring lobby card reproductions on both sides, as well as a fold-out, double-sided poster featuring the original Italian posters on both sides. The disc and art cards are tucked away within a black amaray case with double-sided artwork featuring new artwork on one side and a version of one of the original Italian posters on the other. Everything is housed inside a rigid slipcase featuring new artwork.
There are also a number of extras from various releases around the world that haven’t carried over. For Django, the Blue Underground DVD and Blu-ray releases feature an introduction by Franco Nero, the Django: The One and Only featurette, The Last Pistolero short film, and the Western, Italian Style documentary. The Argent Films UK DVD and Blu-ray releases feature an interview with Franco Nero and an alternate opening. The Wild Side Video French DVD release features the Autour de Django featurette. And the StudioCanal German Blu-ray release features the Franco Nero: Back in the Saddle featurette. And for Texas, Adios, the Blue Underground DVD features the film’s US theatrical trailer, while a Japanese DVD release features interviews with Franco Nero and Ferdinando Baldi. If you’re a fan of the film and you own any of these releases, you may want to hang onto them, especially the Blue Underground discs.
Arrow Video’s UHD release of Django, and the Texas, Adios Blu-ray bonus, offers a nice package with quality transfers and bonus materials. Both films are far removed from each other, but Franco Nero fans will be more than happy with their presentations. For them and for Spaghetti Western fans alike, this set comes highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons