Release Date(s)1970 (October 27, 2020)
Studio(s)The Malpaso Company/Universal Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A-
In the thick of Clint Eastwood’s newfound superstardom, he teamed up once again with Coogan's Bluff director Don Siegel for another western, this time sharing top billing with Shirley MacLaine in Two Mules for Sister Sara from 1970. This unorthodox combination of talent set to an unusual though no less effective score by Ennio Morricone was treated surprisingly more kindly by critics than one might expect. With reports that much of the cast and crew became ill while filming on location in Mexico and that Shirley MacLaine had numerous arguments on the set with Siegel, it’s a wonder that the film holds together at all—telling an off-kilter tale that audiences accustomed to the silent, calculating, and sarcastic demeanor of the Dollars films likely weren’t expecting.
Former American soldier Hogan (Eastwood) is riding through the desert when he happens upon a group of bandits taunting and potentially raping a naked young woman (MacLaine). After he saves her, she puts her clothes back on and reveals that she is actually a nun named Sara, an ally of the Mexican revolution. He agrees to take her to their encampment, held in place by Colonel Beltran, who is planning to attack a French garrison where prisoners and treasure are supposedly being held. Many obstacles lie in their way, including French troops and random groups of Native Americans, but the biggest is Hogan’s attraction to Sara and their budding relationship, which she refuses. Yet there’s more to her than she’s willing to admit, which ultimately leads them down a path towards revelation as they struggle to aid their allies.
Kino Lorber brings Two Mules for Sister Sara to Blu-ray for a second time utilizing new 4K restorations of what is assumed to be the original camera negative in two versions: the original US theatrical version and the international version. Both are visually superb. Healthy and refined grain levels with an enormous amount of fine detail on costumes, objects, and skin textures are on display. The color palette has a nice variety of hues, including the reds, greens, and blues of clothing, foliage, and skylines to the browns, tans, and whites of dirt, landscapes, and structures. Black levels are deep with perfect contrast. It’s also a thoroughly clean and stable presentation with no leftover damage and a high encode. It’s easily the best the film has ever looked on home video, and only an Ultra HD release utilizing the same materials would yield better results.
The audio for each version is included in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA with optional subtitles in English. Both tracks are solid with clean dialogue exchanges, even during the more racuous moments later in the film. Ennio Morricone’s score pierces through the proceedings with muscle behind it. Sound effects, though not always natural as stock effects are often used, have bite to them as well. There are also no leftover instances of hiss, crackle, distortion, or dropouts.
Each version of the film is presented on a separate disc in 1080p with the following extras:
DISC ONE: INTERNATIONAL CUT
- International Cut (HD – 113:55)
- Audio Commentary with Alex Cox
- At Home With Clint Eastwood (HD – 7:53)
- Poster and Image Gallery (HD – 41 in all – 4:17)
DISC TWO: DOMESTIC CUT
- Domestic Cut (HD – 105:02)
- Radio Spots (HD – 4 in all – 1:48)
- TV Spots (HD – 2 in all – 1:21)
- Trailer (HD – 2:36)
- A Fistful of Dollars Trailer (HD – 2:27)
- For a Few Dollars More Trailer (Upsampled SD – 2:29)
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Trailer (HD – 3:23)
- Coogan’s Bluff Trailer (HD – 2:12)
- The Beguiled Trailer (HD – 2:43)
- Play Misty for Me Trailer (HD – 1:53)
- Joe Kidd Trailer (HD – 2:23)
- High Plains Drifter Trailer (HD – 2:31)
- Thunderbolt and Lightfoot Trailer (HD – 2:10)
- The Eiger Sanction Trailer (HD – 2:50)
The domestic version of the film trims about nine minutes of material sporadically throughout, with most of the cuts lasting only a few seconds. The biggest cut is a minute-long conversation between Eastwood and MacLaine. All of these cuts are extremely minor and have no real bearing on the story. It’s otherwise the same film. 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. At Home With Clint Eastwood is a vintage interview with Clint from around the time of the film’s release. The poster and image gallery contains 41 stills of posters, lobby cards, publicity stills, and behind-the-scenes photos. The rest of the extras consist of four radio spots, two TV spots, and a 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 US poster art on the front and the original French poster art on the back—inside a slipcover featuring the original US poster art.
This new release of Two Mules for Sister Sara 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 a beautiful presentation of both versions of the film with a bevy of bonus materials, making it an essential purchase for fans of Clint Eastwood and westerns in general.
- Tim Salmons