Release Date(s)1972 (October 27, 2020)
Studio(s)The Malpaso Company/Universal Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
After Clint Eastwood had changed course and directed his first film Play Misty for Me, and also reinterpreted the classic police detective as a hard-nosed antihero of sorts in Dirty Harry, he teamed with John Sturges for an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard screenplay in 1972’s Joe Kidd. A more straightforward western tale that took obvious advantage of Eastwood’s standing as one of the screen’s greatest western presences, it brought in a little over six million dollars at the box office and received a mixed reception from critics. Like many Eastwood-starring westerns, it remained popular through repeated TV airings and home video releases.
Joe Kidd (Eastwood) is an ex-bounty hunter, recently jailed for hunting on reservation land. After being brought in for trial, a group of Mexican revolutionaries, lead by the headstrong Luis Chama (John Saxon), barges in demanding justice for his people who have been pushed off their lands by white men and claiming it as their own. Arriving in town soon after is Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall), a crooked landowner with a well-armed posse by his side, intent on hunting down Chama and putting a stop to him. Harlan attempts to hire Kidd based upon his previous reputation, and after initially refusing, comes home to find that Chama has attacked his homestead. Reluctantly taking up arms with Harlan, they ride off into the territory to find him. But after witnessing Harlan and his men being ruthless toward common folk, Kidd decides to aid Chama and stop Harlan and his men before they kill all of the Mexican people they come across in order to get to him.
Joe Kidd comes to Blu-ray for a second time via Kino Lorber Studio Classics. It appears to be the same master as before, but with a minor brightness adjustment and a slightly higher encode. It’s a strong presentation with a nicely refined grain structure and high levels of fine detail. A minor bit of filtering has been applied, but detail on objects, skin, costumes, and landscapes has an organic appearance. The color palette offers a mild variety of hues, though limited by the monochromatic landscapes and structures. Reds and greens really stand out when given the opportunity. Contrast is a tad too high, crushing the shadows a bit and leaving blacks leaning towards grey. The master is also stable and clean with next to no damage leftover.
The audio is included in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA with optional English subtitles. It’s a tad weak in volume at times, but dialogue exchanges are clear and precise, regardless of which language is being spoken. Gunfire has a nice round quality to it, as opposed to sounding canned. Other sound effects, including punches and glass breaking, don’t reflect their environment as much. Lalo Schifrin’s score is given plenty of breathing room as well. Minor hiss is evident from time to time, but there are no instances of leftover crackle, distortion, or dropouts to speak of.
The following extras have also been included:
- Audio Commentary by Alex Cox
- Don Stroud: Man With a Gun (HD – 9:07)
- Poster and Image Gallery (HD – 32 in all – 3:15)
- Radio Spot (HD – 0:59)
- TV Spot (HD – 0:30)
- Trailer (HD – 2:23)
- A Fistful of Dollars Trailer (HD – 2:27)
- For a Few Dollars More Trailer (Upsampled SD – 3:50)
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Trailer (HD – 3:23)
- Coogan’s Bluff Trailer (HD – 2:12)
- Two Mules for Sister Sara Trailer (HD – 2:36)
- The Beguiled Trailer (HD – 2:43)
- Play Misty for Me Trailer (HD – 1:53)
- High Plains Drifter Trailer (HD – 2:31)
- Thunderbolt and Lightfoot Trailer (HD – 2:10)
- The Eiger Sanction Trailer (HD – 2:50)
In the audio commentary by filmmaker and author Alex Cox, he speaks at length about the making of the film and its cast and crew. Like his other commentaries, he goes quiet a few times, but still manages to provide plenty of valuable insight into the film’s creation and place within western history. In the interview with actor Don Stroud, he speaks about how he got his part, how Clint Eastwood and John Sturges didn’t get along, how Clint gave more direction than John and should have directed the film in the first place, playing tennis with Robert Duvall, his relationship with John Saxon, other films that he made because of working with Eastwood, and his final thoughts on the film. The poster and image gallery features 32 stills of posters, lobby cards, press materials, and publicity photos. The rest of the extras consist of a radio spot, TV spot, and trailer for the film, as well as a series of Clint Eastwood related trailers for other releases by Kino Lorber. The disc is housed in a standard amaray case with reversible artwork—the original French poster art on the front and the original US poster art on the back—inside a slipcover featuring the original French poster art.
This new release of Joe Kidd is a welcome upgrade over the previous bare bones (outside of the film’s trailer) Blu-ray release from Universal themselves. Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray provides an excellent presentation with a nice selection of bonus materials, making it an essential purchase for fans of Clint Eastwood and westerns in general.
- Tim Salmons