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An affordable set for casual Eastwood fans
on December 31, 2009
The 4-movie "Clint Eastwood Collection" is a nice DVD set for the casual Eastwood fan or the Eastwood novice. Three of the four films are Sergio Leone's acclaimed "Dollars Trilogy" or "Man With No Name Trilogy". These Italian-produced films include A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965), and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966), all starring Clint Eastwood as a cigar-chomping wayward gunslinger. The fourth film in this set is HANG 'EM HIGH (1968).
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About the DVDs:
The movies are packaged in a normal (clear) plastic keepcase, which is slipped into a cardboard box. The case holds all 4 discs (one for each film) on two double-sided hinged trays. A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS shares a tray with FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, and the other two films share the second tray, one disc on each side.
The discs themselves offer little else except the movies. Other than theatrical trailers, the only bonus feature in the set is an audio commentary for THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) and HANG 'EM HIGH (1968) come on double-sided discs, with the widescreen presentation on one side and the cropped fullscreen version on the other. The other two movies come on single-sided discs (widescreen format), with a picture on the top side.
I've done research and found out that THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY is the new 178-minute version, featuring a few restored original scenes that were missing from English-language versions of the film and had to be dubbed in 2003 by the older actors. Although the box gives the running time of 161 minutes, the DVD version IS the 178-minute "restored" version.
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About the films:
Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" is pretty popular. Some of the classic "spaghetti westerns" of the 1960s, filmed without sound by Italian production companies and then dubbed in various languages for international release. The movies in the trilogy get bigger and better each time.
FISTFUL OF DOLLARS has Eastwood as a mysterious poncho-wearing traveler who plays two rival families against each other in a small southwestern town.
FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE has a poncho-clad Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as mysterious bounty killers after the same man, a ruthless bandit who's escaped from prison.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, currently ranked #4 on IMdB's Top 250, follows three men (Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach) through the southwest during the Civil War in their search for buried gold.
The movies are gritty and violent and full of expert gunslinging and epic showdowns. But they're also entertaining watches. (UGLY, in particular, is full of dark humor.) And the films include memorable scenes and feature Ennio Morricone's iconic music.
I have not seen HANG 'EM HIGH (yet), but I understand that it is an American production and another one of Eastwood's classic westerns.
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"The Clint Eastwood Collection" contains four of Eastwood's classic westerns, most notably the entire "Dollars Trilogy", and should make a nice gift for the casual Eastwood fan or the Eastwood beginner. But the DVDs don't offer anything special. I know each of the Leone movies has its own 2-disc DVD featuring audio commentaries and a second disc of bonus documentaries and featurettes. A true Eastwood collector might prefer the 2-disc DVDs, offered separately. But for someone on a budget, this affordable set contains four movies for the price (and space) of one. It's a pretty good set, as long as you understand what you're getting.