Spaghetti Western Blu-ray Re-Issue ‘Day of Anger’ Gets Deluxe Treatment

by Nick Spacek on March 30, 2015

in Blu-ray/DVD Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

On its surface, Tonino Valerii’s 1967 spaghetti western, Day of Anger (out from Arrow Films via MVD) doesn’t seem worthy of such a rich Blu-ray release. The acting’s either painfully wooden or scenery-chewing in its excess, and there’s enough dubbing to make you wonder whether they even had the mics on while filming.

But Day of Anger has quite a few things going for it. First of all, the plot is far better than your standard western fare. The film does an excellent job of combining several western tropes into one film, and keeping them as a coherent story that doesn’t feel cobbled together. The reluctant gunfighter training an eager young protegee story dovetails nicely with the revenge plot.

On top of that, the fact that Valerii then took the progression of the characters he developed early on and spun it into a third trope — the young gunslinger cleaning up a corrupt town — is absolutely masterful.

What makes this all possible is the way Lee Van Cleef holds everything together. As Frank Talby, his character hasn’t the deepest chracter development, but he’s absolutely rock-solid throughout the entirety of the film. Like Walker in the contemporaneous Point Blank, Talby’s out to get the money owed him, and he’s not going to stop at getting it. His terse, cold delivery takes an awful lot from Jack Palance in Shane, right down to shooting a man simply because he was holding a gun.

It’s beautifully shot, as well, using the desert and wilderness to great effect. Additionally, the gunfights have a certain tilt to them, which leaves each particular instance of gunplay a bit off-kilter, especially as the young protege Scott Mary (Giuliano Gemma) progresses in his lessons. Each successive gunfight becomes less wobbly, until the ultimate shoot-out, which is shot tense and quick, showing how far Mary’s progressed.

You’re given the opportunity to watch either the original Italian cut or the edited international version. The original version is superior, but the international cut still receives the same wonderful restoration. The way the light shines from this movie, it seems absolutely possible you might get sunburnt by the desert glare.

Watching with subtitles is your better bet, as they’re newly-translated, but the dubbing’s from the original translation, meaning they don’t always sync up. Watching with dubbing and subtitles does allow for an interesting opportunity to see how everything’s changed in the intervening decades,though.

If you’re looking to get beyond Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name films and want to explore the world of Italian Western cinema, this is an excellent start. As part of Arrow’s first batch of releases here in the United States, they’ve managed to hit it right out of the park.

Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with two kids and three cats. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online. In addition to his work for Scene-Stealers, Nick can be found bitching about music elsewhere on the Internet at his blog, Rock Star Journalist, and the Pitch’s Wayward Blog.

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