I got the new Warner Archive and have watched the first half. It’s the American cut, so 128 minutes, as opposed to the European cut which runs around 144 minutes. This was Leone’s first solo directing effort and it shows absolutely zero of the style he’d present to the world with Fistful of Dollars. It pretty much looks and feels like every other peplum of the time and that’s not a bad thing.
I saw it when it originally played, but unlike the Hercules movies, this one made zero impression on me. I had the DVD and that looked bad. So, when the uncut German Blu-ray came out I snatched it up – sadly it wasn’t English friendly in any way – no dub, no subtitles. But the image looked pretty decent, I thought, with good color and the usual tinny sound of those Italian things, especially the Lavagnino score.
The Warner Archive disc is, for me, not quite as visually good – color is decent, but it’s REALLY grainy, mostly because I believe when MGM released this originally they would have had some kind of dupe negative or internegative of the cut version, generations away from any camera negative. I have no doubt it was probably super grainy in its theater prints. But it’s never as sharp as the German Blu (which, BTW, has its own set of peculiar problems with gate weave and some weird color shifts and bloopy edits.
But if you want the English you need the Warner Archive and it’s probably as good as they could get whatever element they had to work with. The film is long even at 128 minutes, but it’s fun