With the release and success of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), the spaghetti western genre began to take hold a few years later with more and more companies on both sides of the Atlantic seeking to cash in. However, it wasn’t until The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) that the genre would begin to reach its apex internationally; one of those films outside of Sergio Leone’s films was Django, which in turn would spawn innumerable “sequels” and imitators from its own success. Released several times on home video over the years, Arrow Films has picked up the movie for its latest Blu-ray release, a limited edition paired with one of the loose “sequels”, Texas, Adios (1966).
The Production: 4/5
Django (1966; 4 out of 5)
Django (Franco Nero) is a mysterious loner dragging a coffin through the desolate land near the border between the United States and Mexico. Arriving in a rundown border town, he quickly finds himself between an army of red hooded racists led by former Confederate Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo) and a band of Mexican revolutionaries under the command of General Hugo Rodriguez (Jose Bodalo). While also becoming romantically involved with a prostitute he saved from both gangs, Django manages to match wits (and even some gunfire) with both sides before turning his attention to his main reason for taking on Major Jackson, one which involves an incident from Django’s past…
While director Sergio Corbucci made several spaghetti westerns in his career, Django is still the one he is best remembered for and one which cemented the genre internationally along with Sergio Leone’s classic Dollars trilogy. Right off the bat, the film shows no mercy when it comes to violence; our antihero wastes no time in dispatching members from both gangs who have nefarious plans with the prostitute that he saves – a group of revolutionaries whips her, then the group of red hoods plan to crucify her on a burning cross. Also worth mentioning is how bleak the town is compared to American westerns prior to this film; it should rank as one of the most rundown and muddy locales ever committed to film in the genre as a whole. Aside from the stark violence and bleak setting, the movie boasts some very good action set pieces, such as Django dispatching nearly all of the red hoods with a machine gun hidden in the coffin he drags along for much of the film and the climatic final showdown with Major Jackson which involves Django having to shoot a gun without the use of his hands. Buoyed by Sergio Corbucci’s solid direction, a memorable score by Luis Enriquez Bacalov and an equally solid ensemble cast – including Franco Nero in his career defining role – Django has survived the test of time as not only a cult favorite, but as one of the greatest examples of the spaghetti western ever committed to film by a director not named Sergio Leone.
Texas, Adios (1966; 3.5 out of 5)
As a sheriff of a small Texas town, Burt Sullivan (Franco Nero) rides into Mexico with his kid brother Jim (Alberto Dell’Acqua) to bring in the notorious Cisco Delgado (Jose Suarez) for killing their father. However, this seemingly straightforward task becomes very complicated along the way. For instance, a villager (Luigi Pistilli) under the thumb of Delgado asks for the brothers’ help in taking back their village from Delgado; Burt turns down the offer at first, but will soon need his help when he learns about the shocking truth about his kid brother…
Texas, Adios (released in some territories as Django 2 as an attempt to connect this film as a sequel to Django) is somewhat lesser known in the spaghetti western genre, but is notable as likely being the most American in the genre. For example, the idea of avenging the death of a loved one is certainly not new to the western on both sides of the Atlantic; however, that idea gets turned on its head with a revelation about what happened after the murder of Burt and Jim’s father that’s better seen than talked about here. Also notable is that the amount of violence here compared to other spaghetti westerns is a little more restrained; there’s no machine guns hiding in coffins mowing down large swaths of people here, but there is a moment in Delgado’s camp that has three captives being tortured then shot to death (much of that is luckily kept off screen). Again, there’s some solid action here, with the final showdown between Burt and Delgado in addition to Burt tangling with a Mexican bandido in a village cantina fight standing out here. Backed by Ferdinando Baldi’s sturdy direction and another equally solid cast – with Nero sharing the spotlight with stuntman Alberto Dell’Acqua and Luigi Pistilli – Texas, Adios is a unique spaghetti western that melds elements from previous westerns on both sides of the Atlantic, making it stand out among its contemporaries.
3D Rating: NA
Django is presented in its original 1:66:1 aspect ratio taken from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, while Texas, Adios is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio taken from a 2K scan of the original camera negative for this release. Both films exhibit organic film grain, a faithful representation of the original color timing and an equally faithful representation of fine details; problems like tears, scratches and dirt are fairly minor, although instances of wear are present given the condition of the original film elements for each movie (Texas, Adios exhibits this a little more often than Django). Overall, this release likely represents the best both movies will ever look on home video and represent an improvement over previous releases.
Both films’ original Italian mono & dubbed English mono soundtracks are presented on PCM tracks for this release. All four tracks demonstrate strong dialogue and sound effects along with solid fidelity and range for both films’ music tracks (Luis Enriquez Bacalov is responsible for Django‘s memorable music, while Anton Garcia Abril provided Texas, Adios with an appropriately moody score). Problems like distortion, scratches, hissing and crackling are minimal here, which means that both films have likely been given the best audio representation on home video; one final note: if you’re wondering which track on each film to go with, go with the original Italian tracks, as they’re more natural and poetic compared to the more literal English dubs.
Special Features: 5/5
Disc 1 – Django
Commentary by film historian Stephen Prince – Newly recorded for this release, Prince talks about the movie, its production as well its greater importance in the genre in this very informative track.
Django Never Dies (26:07) – Franco Nero talks about the movie and his memories making the film in this brand new interview.
Cannibal of the Wild West (25:48) – Assistant director Ruggero Deodato speaks about his association with Sergio Corbucci as well as his memories about the movie in this new interview; in Italian with English subtitles.
Sergio, My Husband (27:48) – Nori Corbucci, the widow of the director, talks about her husband and the memories they had during the production of the movie in this new interview; in Italian with English subtitles.
That’s My Life: Part I (10:16) – In the first half of this archival interview, director Franco Rossetti (who worked on the script for the movie) talks about his career and his work on Django; in Italian with English subtitles.
A Rock ‘n’ Roll Scriptwriter (11:03) – Piero Vivarelli, who had also collaborated on the screenplay with Rossetti and Corbucci, shares his memories of working on the movie in this archival interview; in Italian with English subtitles.
A Punch in the Face (18:43) – Stunt performer Gilberto Galimberti, who also played one of Jackson’s red hooded gang members, talks about his career and the stunt work he did on the movie in this archival interview; in Italian with English subtitles.
Discovering Django (25:33) – This brand new appreciation by spaghetti western scholar Austin Fisher examines the movie in the larger picture of the genre.
Archival introduction by Alex Cox (12:04)
Image Gallery – 128 stills are presented here, spread out in 5 different categories (production stills, posters, lobby cards, press materials & home video).
Original Italian Trailer (2:58)
Original International Trailer (2:58)
Disc 2 – Texas, Adios
Commentary by spaghetti western experts C. Courtney Joyner & Henry C. Parke – Recorded for this release, Joyner and Parke talks about some of the details on the film and its cast and crew members as well as a few entertaining tidbits to go along with the analysis of the movie.
The Sheriff is in Town (20:19) – Franco Nero shares his memories of working on the movie – which happened to coincide with the filming of a certain Sergio Leone western starring Clint Eastwood – in this brand new interview.
Jump Into the West (33:46) – Actor and stuntman Alberto Dell’Acqua talks about his career and memories he had making the movie in this brand new interview.
That’s My Life: Part II (9:19) – In the second half of this archival interview, Franco Rossetti talks about his work as a screenwriter on this movie as well as a few more details on his directing career.
Hello Texas! (16:24) – Spaghetti western expert Austin Fisher talks about what makes this movie stand out in the genre in this brand new appreciation.
Image Gallery – 64 stills are presented here, spread out over 5 different categories (production stills, posters, press materials, lobby cards & home video).
Original Trailer (2:42)
Notably absent here but present on the Blue Underground Blu-ray of Django are a Franco Nero introduction, a 1968 documentary of the spaghetti western phenomenon and a couple of featurettes featuring Nero and Ruggero Deodato.
Django helped to further the spaghetti western on the international stage while also establishing Franco Nero as a star internationally as well. Arrow Video has likely provided the definitive version of the movie on home video, with a great HD transfer and bonus features in addition to the inclusion of Texas, Adios as a bonus movie with an equally strong HD transfer and special features. Highly recommended for spaghetti western fans.
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