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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Minnesota Clay (1965) + Silver Lode (1954/VCI DVDs)

Minnesota Clay (1965) + Silver Lode (1954/VCI DVDs)


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



VCI has built its survival on issuing many key and unusual films in many genres, including Westerns.  Now, they have issued one interesting later film by the great Allan Dwan in Minnesota Clay (1965) and reissued the anti-McCarthy witch-hunt film Silver Lode (1954) on separate DVDs.  Clay has a blind gunman hero as its title character, while Silver wants to be High Noon and is not as good.


In the Zatochi and Daredevil tradition, Clay is directed by Sergio Corbucci, who is best known for the first Django film, Hellbenders and Castle Of Blood.  He can direct and this Revenge Western with a twist has some good moments, but it does not stay with you and though Cameron Mitchell is good in the title role, it is for genre fans only.  As oversimple as Silver was and is, it should still get credit for being bold and likely got some of its players blacklisted.  The villain is named McCarty, though the back of the case erroneously spells it McCarthy.


Despite its limits, it has a mood and good cast in John Payne, Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Harry Carey, Jr., Dolores Mann, Stuart Whitman, Hugh Sanders, Frank Sully and even Alan Hale Jr. among others.  Seeing it again, I am reminded that Westerns were peaking as the reality of the country in a state of witch-hunt siege was cutting into the celebratory basis of the genre (a myth) that we “won” The West, it was somehow a holy gift and anyone in our way deserves to suffer.  Even this film was a sign that was about to be permanently deconstructed, which makes it at least worth a look.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Clay is not bad, but it shows it age, while the 1.33 X 1 image on Silver is an improvement over the older VCI DVD.  However, both are not the best examples of three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor and could use some more work should the company add it to their Blu-ray releases.  The Director of Photography on Silver is no less than the great John Alton, José F. Aguayo lensed Clay.  Both have some good shots in playback, but not enough and it makes me want to see both in 35mm film.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in both cases show their age and Silver still needs some audio work.  Maybe a lossless upgrade on both would help when they do Blu-ray; by then which they may find better audio elements if not already available.  Extras include a John Payne retrospective and look at Dwan in Allan Dwan – Sherwood Forest To The Sand Of Iwo Jima featurette on Silver living up top its Special Edition claim with more extras than the first DVD, while Clay has its Original Italian Ending (which does not work) and an original theatrical trailer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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