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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > Comedy > Spaghetti Western > Rodeo > Relationships > Bullriding > Companeros (1970/Blue Underground Blu-ray)/The Lusty Men (1952/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)

Companeros (1970/Blue Underground Blu-ray)/The Lusty Men (1952/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)

Picture: B/C Sound: C+ Extras: B-/C- Films: B-/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Lusty Men is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for two entries from different ideas of The West that are Westerns, if not the usual kind...

As noted in our previous DVD review, Companeros is a title that has been often used, it turns out, but none have the cool theme song this one has. An arms dealer (Franco Nero) gets involved in revolution and the robbery of gold. He makes an unholy alliance with a killer thief (Tomas Milian), though they are not the best of friends. They also have to juggle to drug-crazed killer (Jack Palance, who is not in the film enough, but in what was typical of these films, would take an American actor's cameo and pretend it was a starring role), a clever female revolutionary (Karin Schubert), and a professor (Fernando Rey) who knows how to get the gold. This worked better, thanks in part to an actual Morricone score, but the film is not always as successful. It does more with its star power, but the usual trappings of sadistic torture and women to be beaten, humiliated and raped grows tired instantly, especially with a predictable screenplay. Director Sergio Corbucci, who came up with the idea and co-wrote the film with four others (one uncredited), gives the film some energy, but cannot rise above convention. I like the longer version better, pulling it away from convention, but it does not make it Leone's Duck, You Sucker (reviewed elsewhere on this site) by any means.

Extras include the shorter English-language version of the film that is not quiet as well-rounded, then repeats an Original Theatrical Trailer and a 17-minutes-long interview segment In The Company of Companeros from the old DVD, then we get some more extras including TV Spots, more trailers, a Poster & Still Gallery and a decent feature length audio commentary track by C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke that is good, but could have used even more facts and cinema history despite how well read they are.

Nicholas Ray's The Lusty Men (1952) takes place in more contemporary times, but is enough of a genre piece as Robert Mitchum plays a once-successful bull-rider who finds himself getting involved with the business again when ambitious fan Arthur Kennedy decides he might be able to do it and they meet. Wife Susan Hayward is not so thrilled, but goes along with it when the money starts finally piling up. Too bad it starts in interfere with their marriage and she and Mitchum's character start to get involved.

Some of this is obvious and how could it be otherwise, but it is the character interaction, the actors and Ray's reliable direction that makes this better than it would be otherwise. Arthur Hunnicut and Jimmie Dodd lead the rest of the cast and the Rodeo moments are almost surreal at times. This one is worth a look.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Companeros was shot in Techniscope and process In dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor, but these new transfers come from new HD scans of the original camera negatives. You can sometimes see the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film including the older DVD, yet grain is minimal without major manipulation. Color can be really nice in this solid presentation, if not always looking like a Technicolor print. This compares well with the Blu-rays of the four Leone Spaghetti Westerns issued by MGM (The Man With No Name Trilogy, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and Paramount (Once Upon A Time In The West, which we highly recommend). Director of Photography Alejandro Ullos (Horror Express (see the Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), Night Of The Werewolf, California (1977), The Mercenary, (aka A Professional Gun), Sugar Colt) is a highly underrated cameraman and this new transfer confirms what I have known for eons.

The black & white 1.33 X 1 image on Men is not bad for its age print wise, but the transfer is just a bit softer throughout than I would have liked. Director of Photography Lee Garmes (Duel In The Sun, Scarface (1932), The Desperate Hours (1955), The Paradine Case, Lady In A Cage) is yet another underrated cameraman who could get some really interesting, great shots no matter what he did and this film is no exception.

As for sound, the two films are more even with the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless Italian and English mixes on Companeros a little rough (I prefer the Italian for clarity of the music and some sound effects) while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Men shows its age, but sounds a bit better than expected.

You can order The Lusty Men Warner Archive DVD by going to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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