Bite The Bullet (1975/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Scarlet Worm (2011/Unearthed Films/MVD Blu-ray)
Picture: B/B- Sound: B/C+ Extras: C+/C Films: C+/C
NOTE: The Bite The Bullet Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 copies and is available exclusively at
the Screen Archives website which can be reached at the link at the end of this
1970s, the bottom fell out of Westerns.
The Professional Western cycle was ending along with a wave of imitators
of the Leone Spaghetti Westerns and John Wayne was about to end his acting
reign even though Clint Eastwood occasionally delved into the genre. We now look at two different Westerns to see
how this affected their outcome.
Brooks is one of the underrated journeymen filmmaker who was also a great
writer. Among his many successes were In Cold Blood, Lord Jim, Sweet Bird Of
Youth, Blackboard Jungle and the
1966 Western The Professionals. In 1975, he returned to the genre with Bite The Bullet about a horse race
contest with a big prize and each character having very different motives to
make the run. Gene Hackman and James
Coburn play old friends who become competitors for a (then) big cash prize, but
they have competition in a British rider (Ian Bannen), young cocky upstart
(Jan-Michael Vincent in his prime), old cowboy (Ben Johnson), surprise woman
(Candice Bergen), a Mexican (Mario Arteaga) and a big money rider backed by a
sarcastic so and so (Dabney Coleman).
Time has issued the film in a Limited Edition Blu-ray and though it runs a bit
long at 131 minutes, the film holds up well as one of the last original
Hollywood Westerns to hold up in any significant way. There are some fine performances, great
locations and some memorable moments, but the film also gets sidetracked as
well as allowing itself to get caught up in the moment one too many times
(something Lucas and Spielberg would try to imitate with less success in their
Indiana Jones films) and that interrupts the flow somewhat like a song out of
nowhere. There are no intended “hit
songs” inserted though.
been a long time since I have seen this one and the first time in widescreen
since its theatrical release. It holds
up well considering how the Western is mostly part of the past and having Hackman
and Coburn against each other is a plus that works. Anyone who has never seen it should get this
include a DTS-MA 2.0 Stereo isolated music track of Alex North’s solid score,
the Original Theatrical Trailer and another nicely illustrated booklet on the
film including informative text and essay by Julie Kirgo.
Fredianelli’s The Scarlet Worm (2011)
definitely has an affection for such Westerns and its counterparts in a tale
with a promising idea trying to one-up Eastwood’s Unforgiven: revenge on a sadistic brothel runner (Dan van Husen)
who does inhumane, sick, forced abortions on his prostitutes! He is evil and therefore in the usual
Western, he must pay!
Made by a
group of friends who obviously love the genre, this was a project with much
potential, but instead of reinventing the genre as you need to since the 1980s
when you make entry into it, they get silly with retro Spaghetti Western
graphics, get sidetracked too often and don’t take the abortion situation
seriously, showing this is made by males more interested in the revenge side of
things (including bloody shootouts) trivializing the reason anyone is fighting
to begin with.
sloppy and problematic, as the makers are too busy enjoying themselves (leaving
the viewer out in the process) and producing a major missed opportunity in the
genre to boot. At least I give them
credit for trying and this is at least not as generic as so many of the bad TV
movie Westerns (especially made in Canada for some reason) so it is by default
the best independent Western I have seen in a while, but it ultimately does not
work or stay with you once you see it.
Too bad, because they had a good idea and missed the boat.
include trailers, a Behind-The-Scenes featurette and two feature length audio
commentary tracks (one with Writer David Lambert, the other with
Actors/Producers Mike Malloy & Eric Zaldivar).
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer may have some expected grain
and slight flaws at times, but this is a fine transfer of the original film
shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision by Director of Photography Harry
Stradling Jr. (Little Big Man
(reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), The Way We Were) uses the widescreen frame to a great extent, making
this a true big screen picture with some fine shots and consistent composition
throughout. Made to look naturalistic,
some shots will seem soft, but are intended as such and this will look good on
any HD set up. Worm tries to imitate such a look with the same scope frame, but it
has motion blur, color limits and detail issues that hold it back along with
some styling that backfires and seem clichéd.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is impressive, especially since this
is an upgrade from an optical monophonic theatrical release, but the score was
well recorded and the other sound elements are in good shape, so don’t be
surprised when they integrate as well as they do. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Worm has hardly any surrounds, sounds
on the digital side and is really crying out for a lossless track to match the
above, Bite The Bullet can be
ordered while supplies last at:
- Nicholas Sheffo