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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Spaghetti Western > Ace High

Ace High


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: D     Film: C



There are so many Spaghetti Westerns that are not well known that smaller companies are issuing, that it is nice to see that big studios like Paramount are making sure any they have in the vaults are also being issued on DVD.  The non-Sergio Leone films in this cycle have usually been bad and most of them have been plagued with too much humor.  Give or take a few exceptions, most were cash-ins.  The strange thing about Giuseppe Colizzi’s Ace High (1969) is that it does manage to keep the humor toned down, but gets the drama and storyline muddled.


The first two-thirds of the film has the three leads at conflict with each other until they predictably band together to bust the bank at a casino, the gambling of which is referred to by the title.  The focus begins with Cacopoulos (Eli Wallach, capitalizing on his Dollars Trilogy work) stealing money from two brothers, until the back and forth is interfered with by other interests.  That eventually leads them to a casino run by dirtier interests led by Kevin McCarthy and the inevitable showdown.  At least they got a good cast, which also includes Terence Hill, Brock Peters and Bud Spencer.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is not bad for its age, but far from how good the restored Once Upon A Time In The West from the same year and Paramount looked on DVD.  Cinematographer Marcello Masciocchi even shot the film in the same Techniscope format and both were processed and released in three-strip Technicolor prints.  This looks a bit on the brown side with color that looks flatter than it should throughout, though the source is actually on the clean side.  The extra grain is from both the small two-perforation 35mm frame of the cheap-scope-shooting format, but that this is not a dye-transfer source.  At the 56 minutes point, there is a good shot with Wallach though.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is average, smaller than it should be, has points where the sound is warped and the original dubbing is one of the oddest bad jobs I have ever seen on any such film.  The music by Carlo Rustichelli (conducted by Bruno Nicolai) is typical of the genre at that point, offering none of the cleverness or synergy of the legendary Leone/Morricone collaborations, but tries hard for the flavor.  There are no extras, but the curious will want to see this once and they will find that once will be enough.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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