International Sergio Leone Blu-ray thread

UHDvision

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We all now Leone was one of the most important directors of the late 20th century.

Alas, the representation of his filmography on BD and DVD is very spotty with cut versions, or recut versions, missing soundlines in dubs, missing mixes replaced with 5.1 fold downs, badly remixed 5.1 with added sound-effects, 5.1 in the wrong pitches etc.

The reason is that most of his films were european co-productions, with the films rights broken around. Thought MGM owns most of the world copyrights, actual material is italian exclusive, with germany a close second. This results in a variety of different releases, each with their own plus and minuses.

All the MGM release are miss which is a shame as they are the "general" most widespread releases, often scanned from IPs, cut, recut and remixed, dub tracks in wrong keys/tones, mono foldowns of the 5.1 remixes with new foley and gun sounds instead of the original mono tracks, DNRed, EEd... They are a catalogue of everything that is wrong.

The Italian are way ahead, as they have access to the negatives, while the german, who do care, work on issuing versions of interest they mostly reconstruct in the digital domain from the available sources.

The situation is so crazy, fans have taken steps to custom build their own "releases" from the available materials, bypassing copyrights restrictions, with reconstructed audio or video! Someone even made available an avisynth script (a series of text commands) that allows anyone to conform their prefered soundtrack from the MGM GBU to the superior italian disc video! So basically you have "home-made" versions superior to the actual releases. This is quite shocking, but that is the state of Leone's output on Blu and DVD.

It's very hard to get information on the official different releases online, as fans do scatter their remarks on each release on different forums, so I thought of starting this thread here, where we can, time after time, in one place, add remarks and update this first post with a quick guide to the best releases.

Everyone who loves Leone films, feel free to contribute. I will update this first post accordingly with amazon links etc.
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Quick guide for the best releases:


For a Few Dollars more: Germany Universum disc (full framing, uncut, original english mono) NOW 9,99 € only, NO BRAINER

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Italian Blu-ray for full framing, superior PQ & the real director's cut, (but italian dub only and no subtitles)


1998 MGM DVD for a very approximate reconstruction fan edit of the international cut (includes the original mono tracks in both english and french, thought it sightly cut out of two moments). 4.99 $ only for revisiting the true sound and nearly true international fan edit.

Brand new MGM 4K restored Blu-ray for the "fan cut" of the rome premiere version.

Kino issued a double disc recently with the MGM cut on one disc, and a reconstruction of the 1998 MGM recut of the international cut on another, only with color gamma sightly off to try to get rid of the "yellow" of the MGM remaster. All the bonuses are botched too on their set and are unwatchable. Avoid.


See below for more details on the issues.
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The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)

There's a german Blu-ray of the 2h20mn version. The master is full of damage (unstable image, negative damage) but apart from that it looks superb. It's the only version on Blu-ray right now. Italian and german dubs only, german subtitles. Not english friendly.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

MGM disc is dull looking and zoomboxed. Italian RHV Blu-ray disc is absolutely superior with the full picture in display (no zooming), the right colors, plus it also have the original english mono and subs. See a review comparison here: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews42/fistful_of_dollars_blu-ray.htm

Confirmed the mono on the MGM disc is a mixdown of the 5.1.

German buyers: There is a german release which uses the same picture restoration as the italian, only with a sightly darker contrast and reddish color. Links will be posted soon here.

About the french dub: Sergio Leone spoke french and is said to have supervised the french dubs himself. It's pretty clear as the french dubs are excellent straight adaptations of the italian dialogues, not the english. Since the french mono was never released officially, except on VHS, due to contractual problems with the right owners, and since when the rights were cleared, french got the 5.1 remix only, fans have bypassed this by ripping a VHS and syncing it to the italian release. Do not ask us where to find it, we don't know, but it's out there.

For a Few Dollars more (1965)

MGM disc is filtered and cut by 44 seconds + the so called mono track english is actually a mixdown of the 5.1 doctored mix not the original mono track! The french track is pitched wrong when you compare it to all the others tracks. All the Morricone tracks sounds offkey.

Italian RHV disc is superior with better colors and nearly uncut, but lacks one second of violence, and is zoomboxed a bit.

Recent German disc is the current preferred version, totally uncut, presents what appears to be the full picture, uses a composite of the unfiltered MGM master, italian master, and another source for the added 1 second of violence (Clint's beating). However it misses a few frames in places in comparison to the italian version.

Also the german Blu has the intro card in german instead of english.

Of course, Fans online have reedited the correct US title card in the movie (the german one is newly made and jarring) to improve the presentation. The opening credits of the Blu-ray are in english, so it's a mystery why they put in that german card there (or why the US card doesn't play when selecting the US language option).

Here's a cap comparing the german and italian releases (italian looks cropped and zoomed a bit) http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/9569

The German disc have the english mono and 5.1, so it's a no brainer for US/UK buyers.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966)

The actual international release version only exists on Laserdisc. The 1998 MGM US DVD with the correct mono tracks, apart from some weaving in and out of the english dub on the other dubs in some places is a fan edit mixing the Italian cut with the US cut. This is nearly the actual US and French and other countries cut but not so quite.

This same international version exists on Pal MGM DVD but is CUT because of a glitch on one of Tuco's lines which was then missing from the french dub mono track. Someone decided it was better to just cut it out completely instead of Tuco screaming silently. This is at the moment where "The Good" title appears on screen. Now missing on this Pal DVD is Clint's line "quelle ingratitude quand je pense au nombre de fois ou je t'ai sauvé la vie !" as well as Tuco insulting him. So this Pal early DVD is useless.

MGM old Blu-ray is a fan reconstruction of the "Rome Premiere Cut" that Leone never intended for wide release. It looks all brown as if the characters just stepped out of a charcoal mine, with zero definition (the italian disc compressed to SD and uprezzed to 1080p offers actually more detail).

Try this comparison between MGM BD and Mondo BD http://www.caps-a-holic.com/hd_verg...image=4&cID=664&action=1&lossless=1#vergleich

It's badly remixed in 5.1 too. With the gunshots changed. Also the mono track is said to be a fold down, not the actual mono! All in all, it's a really bad looking and sounding disc except for the bonuses.

Update: A note to german buyers: THE GERMAN AUDIO IS IN THE WRONG PITCH / TONE so this Blu-ray is useless to you if you want to listen to it in german, all the Morricone tracks sounds offkey.

Update 2: I have read reports that the french audio remix is pitched too low on that one too...

The actual director's cut is the Italian Blu-ray which is superior to MGM in every way, but lacks the english dub. This DC is the same as the MGM minus the grotto scene (and with a much better PQ), and as originally dubbed in 1966 entirely in italian only. It's been on youtube for the last six months, but I will not post a link here.

Update: the DC actually have a couple of differences with the US Blu-ray, mainly the torture scene is different, and the last of Blondie's line at the end "sorry Tuco" is missing in the italian cut. It is there in the US version.

Differences between the restored MGM cut and the Italian BluRay release:

- The "Il Grotto" scene is exclusive to the MGM cut
- The torture sequence is missing a reaction shot of Angel Eyes on the Italian BD
- Finale of "The Trio" is slowed down and contains a wailing horn on the 5.1 mix of the Italian BD
- "Sorry, Tuco" scene is missing on the Italian BD
- Different shots of Tuco screaming "You dirty son of a ..."


Update 2: It's hilarious how in the bonuses, they talk about having problems syncing Tuco's last line in the film: in another difference with the US fan edit cut, the line was shot twice, first with Eli Wallach mouthing off the words in english, and then in italian (to allow for a perfect sync for both versions).

Update 3 : MGM just released a 4K restored edition, which looks AWESOME. The restoration of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY was done by L'Immagine Ritrovita in Italy. For the color, they checked a vintage Italian Technicolor print or two and consulted with Assistant Cameraman Sergio Salvati. Salvati insisted upon the yellow look, saying this was what Leone had wanted and intended. This version as the original english mono included as an option.

The 4K restoration of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY is really a project by the Cineteca di Bologna; MGM had little involvement beyond providing about half of the funds.

DRAWBACKS IN THAT NEW VERSION: IT'S STILL THE FANCUT VERSION WITH THE GROTTO SCENE INCLUDED, and, oh, THE MONO MIX IS THE SAME OLD DOWNMIX OF THE 5.1 (FAKE MONO MIX) AND THE FRENCH 5.1 IS STILL IN THE WRONG PITCH.

- IT APPEARS A SILENT REMASTER RESTORED THE REAL MONO TRACK, SO ALL COPIES SOLD NEW NOW WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE THIS ORIGINAL MONO TRACK INSTEAD.


Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

The US Blu-ray is pretending to offer the US Theatrical cut (it doesn't that would be the one with 22mn cut out and missing the outpost scene) + a "restored" version which is not the actual Leone DC but an approximate reconstruction of the US first "limited" cut, with added material that shouldn't be in it (the rising scene, which should only be in the general release US cut missing otherwise 22minutes of other scenes). There is an excellent article on this in Video Watchdog #110.

There exist an uncut CVC italian DVD (italian dubs only), longer than any of those, alas it's not the actual Leone cut either as like both the US discs, it as the "Harmonica rising on the plateform" scene, which was never supposed to be in any of Leone actual director's cut. (It's supposely made from Leone's own print, but it doesn't mean it's a DC. More like it was a print with all the footage shot he made for archival purposes, or maybe they added the rising scene from another source just to make if "full". In essence if you cut out of it the rising scene, you have the nearest to a correct extended cut but that is not a director's cut).

The real Leone DC is the german, or french cut, which isn't available officially, thought some VHS or TV german rips of this complete cut have appeared on youtube until they were taken down. It of course doesn't have the "Rising" scene (which Leone only added in the US cut when they cut out the Outpost scene), and have correct outro music timing.

Why do I say it's the DC? All other countries had botched releases and the film tanked there. The only places it was a huge hit were countries where that same cut was on general release, so that edges off any debate or reconstruction: like the italian GBU which is Leone's real DC, the french/german OUATITW is the DC. Oh and that rising scene that destroy the whole edge of the outpost scene shouldn't be in it.

Once Upon a Time... The Revolution (1971) aka Duck, You Sucker! aka A Fistful of Dynamite

Restored partly on DVD, airs in HD on MGM HD, alas have several audio restoration problems (youtube links comparison below)



These concerns missing dialogue and misplacement of music. Original DVD had correct mono tracks but was cut. The current release still lacks the complete Mao quote at the beginning. Plus of course, the mono track on the DVD is a fold down of the 5.1 mix not the original mono track.

Addition: the Chairman Mao quote can only be read in full on the Image laserdisc (the one with the full final flashback). It´s taken from a VHS and so is of limited visual quality. The MGM DVD has a shortened quote

There is a CVC italian pal DVD with better PQ than the UK/FR pal DVD, which have differences in running time. French DVD is the same as the US DVD only in Pal speed, so I will use it as comparison here because the CVC is also Pal format. Both versions are completely in sync until the massacre at about 1h25mn into the movie, where they both go offsync, so one release is lacking. Guess which?

The FR Pal DVD is 2h30mn24s16. The CVC Pal DVD is 2h30mn52s15. You can shave about 9s of the MGM logo out of the FR Pal MGM so that makes the actual movie as FR 2h30mn15s16 vs ITA 2h30mn52s15 which means a difference of about 37 seconds. From this deduction, it would appear the so called uncut DVD SE is cut. It looks that some of the violence is missing (no dubbed lines seems gone in those 37 seconds, but I may have to check it out).

It's not about the UK version being cut. UK BBFC site says only 6s were cut and the UK DVDs in those cases usually differ from the french DVDs which are "uncut", so it's a case of another botched worldwide release by MGM.

The real intended international title is Once Upon a Time... The Revolution. Again, this was the title in the places where the film succeeded (and the title on the screenplay). The other titles were retitles for countries who cut the film, based on the italian title.

It is my opinion that those titles should only reflect cuts mirroring their actual releases (ie releases that were cut down and do not reflect Leone intended cut) as they represent the theatrical cuts released in the UK and US. Those still do not exist either on DVD or Blu. The correct international title should be reserved for the "uncut" edition. That would be historically accurate, but of course at this point, why would MGM care.

The actual american theatrical cut do not exist on DVD, or Blu, nor the actual UK cut does. A documentary in the DVD thought offers an insight on those cuts.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Two different releases, the Warner disc is the general release which is from an old outdated master originally made for the DVD release, and there is a new, extended Italian Blu-ray, which have a color timing problem but adds 26mn to the movie. However it's region B locked.

The actual american theatrical cut do not exist on DVD, but it airs some times on cable channels. That was a cut where all the film was re-arranged chronologically. I saw it at least twice on HBO in the 80's, so it's probably still around.

I believe to be historically accurate, the US Blu should be a twofer with both the US recut and Leone european release cut.

The old US Blu-ray is NOT the actual european cut. It deletes a shot of James Wood in the final confrontation with Robert DeNiro, and replaces it with a video edited flashback of footage from earlier in the film. So there is no existing DVD or Blu-ray of the initial theatrical releases.

On a general note, all the films (except perhaps Fistful) now miss their "intermission" time. Originally they played in two parts. I know, I saw em that way. It was good to take a leak in the middle of Once Upon A Time... The Revolution. No pun intended.

Producer, co-director:

My Name is Nobody (1973)

French Blu-ray is superior to the italian Blu which have a green tint all over the master.

A Genius, Two Partners & a Dupe (1975)
 
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Richard--W

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I appreciate your comprehensive summation of various versions and problems with the transfers of Sergio Leone's films. Wish I could contribute something useful. I have observed that the MGM releases in the USA flatten the color under a tint of brown. The color on Italy's RHV edition of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS makes that very clear and demonstrates how the film should look. Personally, I wish the 161-minute theatrical release of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY were available on blu-ray. It's a better film, more focused and evenly paced, than the expanded 179-minute version. Clint Eastwood's and Eli Wallach's voices changed so much over the years that they no longer match their 1966 voices. To hear the voices of old men coming out of those young faces is jarring and takes me right out of the film. Consumers should be given the option of choosing which version they want to watch -- the one we all grew up with or the new expanded one. A blu-ray that does not include both versions is not definitive.

I wonder if there's truth to the rumor that Criterion is working on a blu-ray of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY.
 

UHDvision

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That would be awesome. Seamless branching would be the way to go (or put the movie with the intermission on two discs). International and Italian DC only. The Rome Premiere version would not be of much interest since it's the general release on Blu right now already and every fan owns it.
 

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I don't have much to contribute either in terms of information, but I am supremely disappointed with the current US Blu-ray release of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I like the idea of the 161 minute cut being made available to consumers and I really hope that any subsequent US release of this iconic title will utilize the Italian material. Perhaps a release of the Italian disc with English audio in the original audio format of the film?

I am fairly pleased with Once Upon a Time in the West, perhaps just having the title is enough; but I wouldn't mind seeing improvements to this title in terms of better or preferred cuts of the film.

And thanks for putting together this information.

- Walter.
 

Richard--W

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Keep those updates coming whenever you have something, HDvision. I'll keep checking the thread regularly.
 

davidHartzog

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Thanks for the info. on some of my favorite flicks.
 

UHDvision

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Added a screenshot of the title cards of the german Blu-ray of FOFDM.

Added info on the so called "mono" track of the US Blu-ray of FOD.
 

UHDvision

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About For a Few Dollars More (1965)

I feel the need to quote this post in it's entirety from the fistful of leone web board. It's full of great information and screenshots on how the new Universum german blu-ray is the only way to get this movie for now. (see first post)
Quote from: depp91 on February 22, 2013, 08:37:16 AM
About For a Few Dollars More (1965)Further observations!First of all, these are the releases I will refer to in the following text:Paramount DVD (Germany, 2005)MGM BD (US, UK, etc.)Mondo BD (Italy)Universum BD (Germany, 2013)Additionally, there's a remastered version in Germany that usually airs on Kabel1.This comparison is going to be extremely complicated, as there are so many different remastered versions of FAFDM by now, all of them differing in certain aspects. I hope I can sort all of this out in this post. So...Here are three screencaps of the Universum BD which you can compare to their MGM BD and Mondo BD counterparts at http://caps-a-holic.com/hd_vergleiche/comparison.php?cID=666#auswahl.http://s20.postimage.org/5twso1u3x/PDVD_006.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/qn8e3y1f1/PDVD_025.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/3zojk1wh9/PDVD_016.jpgThis should give you an overall impression of the Universum BD.To show that there are many instances of dirt and speckles, here's one example, look at the sky:http://s20.postimage.org/kfntcaqwd/PDVD_008.jpgThe main titles stem from an inferior source (in comparison to the main bulk of the movie) on both all releases:Universum BD: http://s20.postimage.org/wznjds4h9/PDVD_024.jpgMondo BD: http://s20.postimage.org/tff4y6ca5/PDVD_000.jpgUnfortunately, the famous quote "Where life has no value..." is translated into German on the Universum BD, and there's no way to view it in English:http://s20.postimage.org/lynsv0mul/PDVD_023.jpgOn the Mondo BD, it's is missing altogether. I don't have any idea if it has ever been part of the Italian version, I have to admit.Now let's take a look at the different cuts...This shot ist cut short on the MGM BD and the Paramount DVD, the Mondo BD does contain it however, as well as the Kabel1 version on German TV. On the new Universum BD, it was inserted in full length from the Mondo BD probably:http://s20.postimage.org/472zp2sod/PDVD_000.jpgAnother interesting thing is the sound. When Clint raises his head and we can see his head for the first time, thunder roars. On old remastered MGM DVDs and the Paramount DVD, this sound came too early. It was corrected for the MGM BD. However it comes too early on both English soundtracks of the Universum BD, while it is correct on the German soundtracks and also of course on the Italian soundtrack of the Mondo BD.The longer laughter of Indio is also there on the new Universum BD, ported over from the Mondo BD probably. It is missing on the Paramount DVD and the MGM BD. There's one interesting thing here, though. On the Mondo BD, the whole prison scene starts at night and ends at dawn, while on the other versions, the whole scene takes place at night.Universum BD: http://s20.postimage.org/tfsewhmzx/PDVD_002.jpgMondo BD: http://s20.postimage.org/d6ywop3fx/PDVD_002.jpgI guess they had to filter the scene on the Universum BD in order to adjust it to the rest.The scene of Clint grabbing the boy is also longer on the Mondo BD and has therefore been inserted on the Universum BD:http://s20.postimage.org/owg6az54d/PDVD_004.jpgPlease note that the shot I've provided is also part of the other releases, it's just 1,5s of the scene which are longer here.There's another extended scene, which has also been taken from the Mondo BD in order to make the Universum BD complete:http://s20.postimage.org/btkjrpewd/PDVD_005.jpgAs before, this shot is also part of the other releases, however in this version the shot is 4,5s longer.There are strange things going on with the music at the end of this scene.On the Universum BD, the music is faded out very abruptly on both German soundtracks and the English mono soundtrack. On the English 5.1 upmix, it lingers until the beginning of the next scene and kind of serves as a bridge. On the Italian soundtrack of the Mondo BD, it simply stops before the next scene begins.And now... the famous beating scene. This is going to be hard to describe...Fact is, that none of the former releases featured the complete scene. Until now. Combining different sources, the Universum BD is able to present this scene in its complete form for the first time. I'll try to cover the most important aspects of the different versions of this scene, but it is complicated...Only one little thing is missing on the Mondo BD, it has however been part of the Paramount DVD all along and if I remember correctly also of the MGM BD. It's simply the end of this shot (1s only):http://s20.postimage.org/6kpittwh9/PDVD_007.jpgThe scene of Indio gettin a grimmer face and Monco being kicked in the back is there in its complete form. It was missing on the MGM BD and parts of if were missing on the Paramount DVD.http://s20.postimage.org/q92yxild9/PDVD_002_2.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/gpta41xv1/PDVD_003_2.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/j8ez4qjl9/PDVD_004_2.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/ilg2f7mp9/PDVD_006_2.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/qkftwjcfh/PDVD_001_2.jpgThen, after Indio has jumped off the wall, there was one face shot missing on the Paramount DVD:http://s20.postimage.org/q2p9ufc8d/PDVD_007_2.jpgIt is part of the Mondo BD, while I think the scene as a whole is missing on the MGM BD.The shot back to Indio and his comrades stems from an inferior source on all of the releases that contain it, namely the Paramount DVD, the Mondo BD and the Universum BD.Universum BD: http://s20.postimage.org/ccq57vzql/PDVD_000_2.jpgMondo BD: http://s20.postimage.org/9gz9vsrl9/PDVD_008.jpgThe end titles, as the main titles, also come from an inferiour source on problably all remastered versions.Universum BD: http://s20.postimage.org/8zlzs023x/PDVD_017.jpgMondo BD: http://s20.postimage.org/b7iaxa94d/PDVD_006.jpgLast but not least, here are several more screencaps from the new Universum BD:http://s20.postimage.org/nq7kyfrfx/PDVD_001.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/rwx0rigfh/PDVD_009.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/3ug6wmzsd/PDVD_010.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/sc8akj2ct/PDVD_011.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/5c68lxtwt/PDVD_012.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/wba3h3gdp/PDVD_015.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/hj5dpragd/PDVD_018.jpghttp://s20.postimage.org/6ndzuepil/PDVD_021.jpgTo sum up:I'm totally fine with the picture quality. Although there are so many speckles, the overall quality is still a lot better than the Mondo BD in terms of sharpness, color and contrast. And yes, this really is the first release of this amazing in its uncut form. Finally!!!!There only two sad things about this release:- Universum felt they had to translate the "Where life has no value..."-phrase into German- The thunder sound isn't in its right place when we see Monco for the first time(And the ugly cover art, probably.)PS: I'm sorry that the screencaps are not in their original size. I uploaded them at postimage.org which said it wouldn't resize them, but obviously it did. SORRY!
 

Brent Reid

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This is brilliant work - love this stuff. Makes for depressing reading though...

I have faith that someone, somewhere will eventually produce definitive HD releases for the Dollars trilogy & Duck/Revolution, but it's a frustrating wait in the meantime.

Even on re-reading, the two long posts above are still a little confusing. At the end of each film's section, could you sum up which BD & DVD is currently the best to get for each title overall?
 

UHDvision

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MGM discs are really walking abortions and wrecks. Just added that FOFDM french track is offkey (wrongly pitched) by several tones, and that GBU german track is plagued by the same problem which destroys the music.
 

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HDvision said:
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

The US Blu-ray is pretending to offer the US Theatrical cut (it doesn't that would be the one with 22mn cut out and missing the outpost scene) + a "restored" version which is not the actual Leone DC but an approximate reconstruction of the US first "limited" cut, with added material that shouldn't be in it (the rising scene, which should only be in the general release US cut missing otherwise 22minutes of other scenes). There is an excellent article on this in Video Watchdog #110.

There exist an uncut CVC italian DVD (italian dubs only), longer than any of those, alas it's not the actual Leone cut either as like both the US discs, it as the "Harmonica rising on the plateform" scene, which was never supposed to be in any of Leone actual director's cut. (It's supposely made from Leone's own print, but it doesn't mean it's a DC. More like it was a print with all the footage shot he made for archival purposes, or maybe they added the rising scene from another source just to make if "full". In essence if you cut out of it the rising scene, you have the nearest to a correct extended cut but that is not a director's cut).

The real Leone DC is the german, or french cut, which isn't available officially, thought some VHS or TV german rips of this complete cut have appeared on youtube until they were taken down. It of course doesn't have the "Rising" scene (which Leone only added in the US cut when they cut out the Outpost scene), and have correct outro music timing. Why do I say it's the DC? All other countries had botched releases and the film tanked there. The only places it was a huge hit were countries where that same cut was on general release, so that edges off any debate or reconstruction: like the italian GBU which is Leone's real DC, the french/german OUATITW is the DC. Oh and that horrible rising scene that destroy the whole edge of the outpost scene shouldn't be in it.
It seems that worldwide always one version was released theatrically (unless national distributors cut some scenes out), what you and what I call the DC. This 165 min version was released with that length at least in Italy, Germany and France. According to the Video Watchdog article this version was released also for a few weeks in the USA before it was substituted by several shorter versions (which at first did not contain that "Rising" scene). In the UK this 165 min version was also rated by the BFI, but then only a 146 min version was released, and this was in one scene different form the 144 min US version. There lies at least the reason that unlike GBU the film was completely dubbed.

I specified the differences between the original theatrical uncut version (so far nowhere released on DVD or Blu) and the Paramount version already in the OUTW thread and I repeat them here now:

Unfortunately Paramount released on Blu ray still the same slightly faulty version used for DVD, this very version which has displaced since the beginning of the digitalization of movies, with the arrive of the Laser disc in the 90s, the original theatrical cut worldwide (except for Italy thanks to the splitting of the rights between Italy and the rest of the world).

What's wrong?
1. There are 70 sec of additional shots missing in the opening scene.
2. It shouldn't contain the so called "Harmonica Rising" scene, which destroys some of the narrative brilliance of the big opening in which the characters are introduced, and which lasts for about 40 min.
3. The closing music is wrong, as originally the music track called Finale is played in its entirety until the film ends, but is here abridged and then replaced by the Cheyenne theme, which doesn't make much sense.

The Blu does now contains also the Scorsese restoration. This version was aimed to restore the European theatrical version, but strangely it doesn't. And is for taht a disappointment. just another spoiled chance.
1. There are now 18 sec restored to the opening scene, but why not the whole 70 sec?
2. The superfluous "Harmonica Rising" scene is now even longer, the extra seconds taken from a longer Italian version (which is not the theatrical version, but uhh, some kind of private print of Leone, which was restored in the 90s)
3. The score still contains the Cheyene theme at the end

Well, and yes, I would also call that "Rising" scene horrible. Not the scene per se (which is still a lesser one), but how it damages the film's structure.
But I doubt that Paramount will ever change this.
 

UHDvision

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I don't get why there's not a lot of uproar on all these modifications. Would it be that Leone films were so long, that people don't remember them shot by shot and thus aren't bothering or noticing? If this happened to Terminator 2, there would be gigabites of complaint all over the web.
 

Grubert

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All that complaining about the fake 5.1 sound on GBU, and they still don't bother to release the original mono audio on the Blu. It seems nobody of the MGM guys cares for that. Instead they release a completely useless mono downmix from the 5.1. audio. Isn't that incredibly idiotic?

With OUTW it is a bit more complicated. I'm sure if they would now release a version without that "Rising" scene, then you would get an uproar. Paramount is selling this version now for 30 years, and since 20 years this version began to substitute the theatrical version on the home video market. People are now used to this version.

At least Paramount should have changed the music. This is the easiest thing to do. And I really don't know why Scorsese did not care for it either.

Point is the audience is satisfied with the Paramount version. And well, despite these flaws, the film isn't really harmed by it.

What about for example Psycho. Another great classic, but the Blu is still the same cut version as released on DVD. Such a famous film, but nothing had happened.
 

Stefan Andersson

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HDVision, thank you very much for starting and updating this thread!

I´d like to add that the Chairman Mao quote in the opening of Duck You Sucker can only be read in full on the Image laserdisc (the one with the full final flashback). It´s taken from a VHS and so is of limited visual quality. The MGM DVD has a shortened quote if I don´t misremember.
 

UHDvision

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Thanks, updated and included links and sleeves to the best versions of the man with no name trilogy.

To anyone deploring the lack of english audio and subs for the ita GBU, trust me, try the italian disc as is. You will not be able to go back to the MGM disc after this.
 

UHDvision

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Some comments on Once Upon A Time in The West from Criterion forum poster "Lighthouse"
About the various versions of OUTW.The film was released in Europe in a 164 - 165 min version. I have never read anything from Leone which could indicate that this was not the version which he wanted to release, and up to this day I say that this is the DC. There are 3 differences to the Paramount DVD, which uses an English master instead of an Italian one:1. It does rightfully not include the short superfluous scene of Harmonica nursing himself after the railway station shoot-out. 2. The long first scene at the railway station is about a min longer.3. The closing music is up to the end the Jill/America theme, and does not change for the last 80 sec to the Cheyenne theme.The US version was originally cut down to 144 min (but completely dubbed) and later on restored to a 165 min runtime with the above mentioned differences. For this short version the 90 sec scene after the shoot-out was inserted, which was necessary because the later (also very long) scene at the desert store (in which Harmonica returns and we see that he was only wounded in the first scene) was completely cut out. It seems that for the restored version this short scene was retained. Which is a pity cause the film loses a little bit of its brilliance.And it seems also a min of the first scene was cut out (maybe to make it a little bit faster) and not restored. And it seems for unknown reasons the closing music was also changed, unless this was doen for the DVD only. The US Giu la testa DVD contains also some segments with an altered score.In 1995 a guy named Claver Salizzato presented a restored 12 min longer version with a runtime of now 177 min. It does include the short scene of Harmonica nursing himself, and has otherwise only a lot of small bits which made already existing scenes slightly longer (e.g. the 1st scene runs for another 30 sec). The scene with CC in the bathtub has some alternative shots and the only bit of new dialogue (one sentence). But a small scene near the ending is now missing.I still don't know from where this longer version has surfaced, and how "official" it is, but it is so far the only version released in Italy on DVD. I have read that it was a version found in the archives of Leone, something like a private copy. But that is not sure, and until today I don't think that this longer version is the DC. And I have never read anything about this version being the DC.
The version which was released in Italy, France and Germany theatrically, does not include the so called Harmonica Rising scene. I have seen it 15 times in cinema without this scene, I have an Italian book by Oreste de Fornari which says that it was cut out before the film premiered, and there is a French member of another forum who also says that this scene was not part of the French version. And he never saw this scene before the 90s.
Frayling also claims in his Spaghetti Westerns book from 1981 that this scene was cut from the Italian print, but then reinserted for the 144 min cut cause of the missing trade post scene.OUTW doesn't need this short scene, I don't like it mainly because it destroys some of the narrative brilliance oft the long and slow beginning of the film.The scene with the 3 deputies was most likely shot. Photos of this scene exist and Harmonica bears the wounds from this fight on his face in the middle section of the film. But this scene was set after the trading post scene anyway.And to say it again, the German theatrical version is for the first scene up to the shoot-out more than a minute longer than the Paramount DVD, and the 177 min version adds another half minute.
 

Brent Reid

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I posted this at DVDCompare:

"I recently had an in-depth chat with Mr Frayling about all things Leone & asked him in particular why the missing shots & scenes weren't added into the restored version.. I said even if they didn't exist in decent quality, they would still be welcomed, either seamlessly branched or included as an extra. He replied that it was for no other reason than personal & political wrangling between different studios & archives holding the relevant prints, that simply don't, or won't, communicate with each other.

Therefore, don't hold out for an even better, longest-possible cut anytime soon."
 

UHDvision

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That's very interesting, and gel with the theory that his filmography on DVD and Blu-ray is in total chaos.

Unless someone really dedicated + who knows the films spend years dealing with everyone and the material, then truly definitive versions will probably never appear.

Here's a fan-made documentary on the additions and differences between the US DVD and the italian DVD of OUATITW:


It probably will be taken down (while complete versions of the films on youtube remains for some reasons undisturbed), so see it while you can.
 

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