Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Big Gundown – Grindhouse Releasing (Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain/Italy, 1966
Director: Sergio Sollima
Writers: Sergio Donati, Sergio Sollima, Tulio Demicheli, Fernando Morandi, Franco Solinas
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Luisa Rivelli, Fernando Sancho, Nieves Navarro

Release Date: December 10th, 2013
Approximate Running Times: 94 Minutes 56 Seconds (Expanded U.S. Cut), 110 Minutes 18 Seconds (Director’s Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC (Both Versions)
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Expanded U.S. Cut), DTS-HD Mono Italian (Director’s Cut)
Subtitles: English (Director’s Cut)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $44.95

"The legendary Lee Van Cleef stars as a relentless bounty hunter on the trail of Cuchillo (Euro-film superstar Tomas Milian), a savage Mexican outlaw accused of the rape and murder of a twelve-year-old girl." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.75/5 (Expanded U.S. Cut, Director’s Cut)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfers, "spectacular new 2K digital restoration of the original uncensored English language version, newly expanded with three additional scenes."

The Big Gundown expanded U.S. cut comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.3 GB

Feature: 25.1 GB

The Big Gundown director’s cut comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.7 GB

Feature: 17.8 GB

The transfers for both versions included as part of this release have been sourced from a brand new 2K restoration. The source is in excellent shape. Colors look nicely saturated and accurate; flesh tones look healthy; and black and contrast levels look consistently great throughout. Details look crisp, especially in close-up shots, which often look razor sharp. Also, compression is solid, and grain remains intact.

Audio: 4.25/5 (Expanded U.S. Cut, Director’s Cut)

The expanded U.S. cut comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English.

The director's cut comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian, and included are removable English subtitles.

Both audio mixes sound great. Dialog always comes through clearly; everything sounds balanced and robust when it should. Ambient sounds and the score are well-represented.

Extras:

Extras on Blu-ray disc one (Expanded U.S. Cut) include still galleries: production stills (20 images), U.S. promotional material (41 images), Italian promotional material (10 images), French promotional material (30 images), and various promotional material (20 images), TV spot A (1 minute 2 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), TV spot X (12 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), TV spot Y (12 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), TV spot 1 (22 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), TV spot 2 (18 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. theatrical trailer A (2 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. theatrical trailer B (2 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Italian theatrical trailer (3 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital mono with Italian text, no subtitles), an archival interview with director Sergio Sollima titled Sergio Sollima Remembers The Big Gundown (29 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor Tomas Milian titled Acting on Instinct (29 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with screenwriter Sergio Donati titled Tagliatelle in Los Angeles (12 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Sergio Sollima titled Struggle Against Genre (27 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Sergio Donati titled Bonus Interview (11 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), a music and effects isolated track, and an audio commentary with Western Film Experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke. This disc has an Easter egg, a trailer for Run, Man, Run (3 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian, no subtitles).

Extras on Blu-ray disc two (Director’s Cut) include an isolated music track for Ennio Morricone’s score, a music commentary subtitle track, and trailers for other titles also available from Grindhouse Releasing.

Disc three is a dual-layer DVD that includes all of the contents that are present on Blu-ray disc one of this set, and DVD-Rom contains a text essay about the differences between the two versions of The Big Gundown.

Disc four is a CD that has Ennio Morricone’s 25-track score for The Big Gundown.

Other extras include reversible cover art, a slipcover, and a twenty-four page booklet with an essay titled Sergio Sollima’s Political Gundown written by C. Courtney Joyner, an essay titled Cutting to the Chase - The Tale of Two Gundowns written by Gergely Hubai, an essay titled Six Shooter Symphony - the music of The Big Gundown written by Gergely Hubai, an text piece titled Cover Art, and track listing for Ennio Morricone’s score.

Summary:

Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) takes everything he has learned working with Sergio Leone and incorporates it into his role as Jonathan Corbett. The character is well defined and has a lot of depth, due mostly in part to Lee Van Cleef’s dead-on portrayal of a thinking man’s bounty hunter who never becomes victim to a quick trigger finger. His role in The Big Gundown is similar in many ways to Clint Eastwood’s role in The Man With No Name Trilogy, as he is a man who lets his actions do most of the talking. The Big Gundown is one of Lee Van Cleef’s defining roles as an actor.

Tomas Milian plays Cuchillo, a Mexican bandito who is also a master knife thrower. Cuchillo has a knack for getting himself out of some sticky situations, and his knife-throwing skills help him time and again. Tomas Milian has made a career out of playing eccentric characters like Cuchillo, who in many ways might just be the bastard cousin of Eli Wallach's "Tuco" from the monumental spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. An interesting scene that immediately comes to mind when I think of the Cuchillo character is the scene where he is forced into the ring with a wild bull and has nothing but his bare hands to defend himself from the bull. It is this scene that perfectly captures the essence of the Cuchillo character and his fearlessness even against insurmountable odds.

Nieves Navarro (Death Walks at Midnight), known to most Euro-cult fans as Susan Scott, who starred in several key giallo films during the early 1970s, stars in The Big Gundown as a widow who runs a ranch in the middle of nowhere. Her character is all about being in control, and she uses her body to get the men on the ranch to do whatever she wants them to do. There is an interesting clash in the film when Cuchillo and Corbett both spurn the advances of this black widow-like woman. Both men have other objectives that are more important to them than satisfying this woman’s carnal lust. Cuchillo also uses her power over the men who work for her against her, as he makes them jealous that Corbett is spending some quality one-on-one time with her while they have to wait outside and guard Cuchillo. Sex is prevalent and runs throughout the film as the main thread that connects the story, whether it's the widow's sexual frustration or Cuchillo, who is wanted for raping a 12-year-old girl. Director Sergio Sollima handles this subject with grace and dignity, as he never makes it salacious.

Spaghetti westerns are known for their use of beautiful landscapes, and The Big Gundown is a movie that is always on the run as it moves from one picturesque locale to another. The cat and mouse game between Corbett and Cuchillo is very effective, and Sollima manages to build just enough tension with each near capture and escape.

The Big Gundown is an expertly crafted story that was co-scripted by Sergio Donati, who was a frequent collaborator of director Sergio Leone. Some of the feel of the story echoes Leone’s previous spaghetti westerns that were made before The Big Gundown. Ultimately, despite being the most traditional of the three westerns that Sollima directed, The Big Gundown is still easily one of the genre’s stronger efforts.

The Big Gundown gets an exceptional release from Grindhouse Releasing that comes with two versions of the film and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.


















Written by Michael Den Boer

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Face to Face – Kino Lorber (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1967
Director: Sergio Sollima
Writers: Sergio Sollima, Sergio Donati
Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Tomas Milian, William Berger, Jolanda Modio, Gianni Rizzo, Carole André, Ángel del Pozo, Aldo Sambrell

Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes  30 Seconds (U.S. Version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (U.S. Version)
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (U.S. Version)
Subtitles: N/A
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: OOP

"Upstanding history professor Brad Fletcher (Gian Maria Volonte, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More) is forced into retirement by his poor health and moves west for the warmer climate. As soon as he arrives, he is taken hostage by famed bandit Solomon Bennett (Tomas Milian, Companeros, Tepepa) in an accidental confrontation, and by necessity is forced to take up with his cohorts." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.75/5 (U.S. Version)

Face to Face comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.4 GB

Feature: 18.2 GB (U.S. Version), 3.7 GB (Italian Version)

The source used for the U.S. version transfer is in very good shape, and any print-related debris is minimal. Colors look very good, black levels fare well, details generally look crisp, there are no issues with compression, and grain remains intact.

Audio: 3.25/5 (U.S. Version)

The U.S. version comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. This audio mix sounds clean, and the dialog comes through clearly. Range-wise, though the ambient sounds are well-represented, there are instances where the audio sounds flat.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for Navajo Joe (1 minute 51 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles) and the Italian theatrical version of Face to Face (112 minutes 2 seconds, standard definition, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Dolby Digital mono Italian with non-removable English subtitles).

Summary:

Sergio Sollima might as well be known as the other Sergio (Leone), since his films never received the wide release and acclaim that two of his contemporaries, Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci, did. Sergio Sollima made his first western, The Big Gundown, at the height of the spaghetti western genre, and he would direct his third and last western, Run Man Run, a few years later, as the genre started its long, agonizing demise.

Tomas Milian portrays a wanted man named Solomon "Beauregard" Bennet. He delivers a multifaceted performance that does a superb job conveying his character's growth from a cold-blooded killer to a man with a conscience. Though this is another solid performance from Tomas Milian, his performance is ultimately overshadowed by Gian Maria Volonté's brilliant portrayal of Professor Brad Fletcher.

Gian Maria Volonte, who was frequently cast as villains or as imposing characters. In Face to Face, he gets to portray a character that’s actually closer to his real personality. Gian Maria Volonte’s other spaghetti westerns include A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and A Bullet for the General.

Gian Maria Volontè and Tomas Milian make perfect foes for each other as the two characters that couldn’t be more night and day, and ultimately, they transform into what the other used to be. in particular Gian Maria Volontè’s disturbing transformation in one of cinema’s role reversals.

Face to Face’s pivotal moment is a scene where Brad Fletcher becomes infatuated with a woman named Maria, who belongs to one of Beauregard’s men. One day, he stumbles upon Maria, who has just finished bathing in the river. Watching her from afar, he’s overcome with lust as he chases her down and rapes her. This is the crucial moment when we see his inner beast for the first time. Where he was once frail, he has become invigorated by the power he commands when he assumes control of Beauregard’s former gang.

Sergio Sollima expands his wings as a director with Face to Face, as he enhances themes and visuals that he had originally explored in The Big Gundown. The showpiece of Face to Face is a bank robbery sequence where everything appears to fall into place perfectly, until a young Mexican boy recognizes Beauregard, which sets in motion a fury of gunfire that ultimately kills most of the robbers and the young Mexican boy. What is most interesting about this scene is that instead of trying to escape or help his amigo, Beauregard is more concerned about the young Mexican boy whose lifeless body lays in his arms. Tomas Milian provides the most memorable moment of his career during this moment of clarity. Ultimately, Face to Face is the best of the three spaghetti westerns Sergio Sollima directed.

Face to Face gets a good release from Kino Lorber that comes with two versions of the film. That said, though this release leaves plenty of room for improvement, it will have to do until a better release comes along.









                                                     Italian Version Screenshots.



Written by Michael Den Boer

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Avengers: The Emma Peel Collection (1965-1967) – Imprint TV (Blu-ray)

Release Dates: UK, September 28th, 1965 – Uk, March 22nd, 1966 (Series 4), UK, January 9th, 1967 – Uk, November 15th, 1967 (Series 5)
Directors: Sidney Hayers, Quentin Lawrence, Charles Crichton, James Hill, Peter Graham Scott, Gerry O'Hara, Don Leaver, Roy Ward Baker, Bill Bain, Robert Day, Gordon Flemyng, John Krish, Robert Asher, Roy Rossotti, Peter Duffell, John Llewellyn Moxey
Created By: Sydney Newman
Cast: Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg

Release Date: December 7th 2022
Approximate running time: 52 Minutes Each Episode (50 Episodes)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (Australia)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: AUD$199.95 (Australia)

"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state have to be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner, Emma Peel, talented amateur. Otherwise known as The Avengers. With lethal bowler hat and umbrella, killer fashion and kung fu, the secret agents investigate bizarre and colourful adventures with nonchalant efficiency, sophistication and charm.

Whilst every era of the long-running, enduringly popular and trend-setting British series has its own unique style, charm and wit, it is the Emma Peel years that have become the programme’s most iconic and recognisable, with Diana Rigg’s portrayal of Mrs. Emma Peel ushering in a new era of excitement, fashion and iconology, coupled with Patrick Macnee’s continuing depiction of the urbane and sublime John Steed." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (Series 4), 4.75/5 (Series 5)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfers, "1080p high-definition presentation from the original 35mm elements".

The Town of No Return, The Murder Market, and The Master Minds come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 32.7 GB

Feature: 8.7 GB (The Town of No Return), 8.6 GB (The Murder Market), 8.7 GB (The Master Minds)

Dial a Deadly Number, Death at Bargain Prices, Too Many Christmas Trees, and The Cybernauts come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 37.4 GB

Feature: 8.7 GB (Dial a Deadly Number), 8.5 GB (Death at Bargain Prices), 8.5 GB (Too Many Christmas Trees), 8.6 GB (The Cybernauts)

The Grave-Diggers, Room Without a View, A Surfeit of H2O, and Two’s A Crowd come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 35.2 GB

Feature: 8.6 GB (The Grave-Diggers), 8.6 GB (Room Without a View), 8.6 GB (A Surfeit of H2O), 8.6 GB (Two’s A Crowd)

Man-Eater of Surrey Green, Silent Dust, The Hour That Never Was, and Castle De’ath come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 39.8 GB

Feature: 8.5 GB (Man-Eater of Surrey Green), 8.6 GB (Silent Dust), 9.4 GB (The Hour That Never Was), 8.6 GB (Castle De’ath)

The Thirteenth Hole, Small Game for Big Hunters, The Girl from AUNTIE, and Quick-Quick Slow Death come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 34.5 GB

Feature: 8.5 GB (The Thirteenth Hole), 8.4 GB (Small Game for Big Hunters), 8.6 GB (The Girl from AUNTIE), 8.5 GB (Quick-Quick Slow Death)

The Danger Makers, A Touch of Brimstone, What the Butler Saw, and The House That Jack Built come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 38.7 GB

Feature: 8.5 GB (The Danger Makers), 8.5 GB (A Touch of Brimstone), 8.5 GB (What the Butler Saw), 9.2 GB (The House That Jack Built)

A Sense of History, How to Succeed … at Murder, and Honey for the Prince come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 35.4 GB

Feature: 8.5 GB (A Sense of History), 8.6 GB (How to Succeed … at Murder), 8.5 GB (Honey for the Prince)

Bonus disc one comes on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 38.2 GB

The Fear Merchants, Escape in Time , and The Bird Who Knew Too Much come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 35.8 GB

Feature: 9.2 GB (The Fear Merchants), 9.2 GB (Escape in Time), 9.2 GB (The Bird Who Knew Too Much)

From Venus with Love, The See-Through Man, The Winged Avenger, and The Living Dead come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 39.3 GB

Feature: 9.2 GB (Venus with Love), 92. GB (The See-Through Man), 9.4 GB (The Winged Avenger), 9.2 GB (The Living Dead)

The Hidden Tiger, The Correct Way to Kill, Never, Never Say Die, and Epic come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 39.8 GB

Feature: 9.2 GB (The Hidden Tiger), 9.2 GB (The Correct Way to Kill), 9.2 GB (Never, Never Say Die), 9.3 GB Epic

The Superlative Seven, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station, Something Nasty in the Nursery, and The Joker come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 41.2 GB

Feature: 9.2 GB (The Superlative Seven), 9.2 GB (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station), 9.2 GB (Something Nasty in the Nursery), 10 GB (The Joker)

Who’s Who???, Death’s Door, and Return of the Cybernauts come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 32 GB

Feature: 9.2 GB (Who’s Who???), 9.2 GB (Death’s Door), 9.3 GB (Return of the Cybernauts)

Dead Man’s Treasure, The £50,000 Breakfast, and You Have Just Been Murdered come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 35.4 GB

Feature: 9.2 GB (Dead Man’s Treasure), 9.2 GB (The £50,000 Breakfast), 9.2 GB (You Have Just Been Murdered)

Murdersville, The Positive Negative Man, Mission… Highly Improbable, and The Forget-Me-Knot come on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 42.8 GB

Feature: 9.3 GB (Murdersville), 9.2 GB (The Positive Negative Man), 9.2 GB (Mission… Highly Improbable), 9.2 GB (The Forget-Me-Knot)

Bonus disc two comes on a 50-GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc.

Disc Size: 32.1 GB

The sources used for Series 4 and Series 5 episodes are in excellent shape. There is no source-related damage. Though the black-and-white episodes look slightly sharper than the color episodes, when it comes to image clarity, black levels, contrast, and compression, they look solid. Also, the color saturation for the series' five episodes is consistent and looks very good throughout. I have owned series 4 and 5 on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, and this release from Imprint TV is easily the best these episodes have looked on any home video format.

Audio: 4.5/5

The fifty episodes that comprise Series 4 and Series 5 all come with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English, and included are removable English SDH subtitles. All of the audio tracks are in great shape; the dialog always comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. Range-wise, these audio tracks sound very good; ambient sounds are well-represented, and the scores sound appropriately robust.

Extras:

Extras on disc one include an audio commentary for The Town of No Return with producer/screenwriter Brian Clemens and director Roy Ward Baker, an audio commentary with for The Master Minds with screenwriter Robert Banks Stewart, chessboard opening title sequence used on US broadcasts for series 4 (32 seconds, LPCM mono), reconstructed John Stamp series 4 trailer (47 seconds, LPCM mono), UK commercial break bumper slates (19 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), UK opening and closing titles for The Master Minds (3 minutes 31 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), UK commercial break bumper slate for The Master Minds (26 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an audio Interview with actress Elizabeth Shepherd tilted The Series of No Return (10 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an Armchair Theatre episode starring Diana Rigg titled The Hothouse (53 minutes 13 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for The Town of No Return: Elizabeth Shepherd (63 images), The Town of No Return: Diana Rigg (86 images), The Murder Market (103 images), and The Master Minds (66 images).

Extras on disc two include an audio commentary for Dial A Deadly Number with screenwriter Roger Marshall, Death at Bargain Prices alternate end tag scene (1 minute 24 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), color test footage for Death at Bargain Prices (1 minute 15 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a vintage interview with Patrick Macnee with behind the scenes footage from the episode The Cybernauts (1 minute 7 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with director Don Leaver (42 minutes 20 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for Dial a Deadly Number (52 images), Death at Bargain Prices (86 images), Too Many Christmas Trees (62 images), and The Cybernauts (95 images).

Extras on disc three include The Grave-Diggers - variant opening titles (3 minutes 8 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), German opening titles (50 seconds, LPCM mono), French opening and closing titles (1 minute 55 seconds, LPCM mono), and photo galleries for The Grave-Diggers (100 images), Room Without a View (41 images), A Surfeit of H2O (54 images), and Two’s A Crowd (48 images).

Extras on disc four include an audio commentary for The Hour That Never Was with director Gerry O’Hara, The Avengers at 50 interview with director Gerry O’Hara (36 minutes 39 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for Man-Eater of Surrey Green (48 images), Silent Dust (73 images), The Hour That Never Was (48 images), and Castle De’ath (50 images).

Extras on disc five include an interview with actor Francis Matthews who discusses The Thirteenth Hole (37 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a vintage newsreel titled The Avengers Fashion Show (52 seconds, no sound), a vintage newsreel titled Patrick Macnee’s Wedding Day (34 seconds, no sound), a vintage newsreel titled Diana Rigg Interview (40 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a vintage newsreel titled The Avengers Sold to USA (14 seconds, no sound), and photo galleries for The Thirteenth Hole (17 images), Small Game for Big Hunters (67 images), The Girl from AUNTIE (65 images), and Quick-Quick Slow Death (66 images).

Extras on disc six include an audio commentary for The House That Jack Built with director Don Leaver, color test footage for A Touch of Brimstone (59 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a 2015 on-stage interview and Q&A with Diana Rigg held at the British Film Institute in London to celebrate 50 years of Emma Peel titled Dame Diana Rigg at the BFI (28 minutes 53 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for The Danger Makers (78 images), A Touch of Brimstone (62 images), What the Butler Saw (53 images), and The House That Jack Built (62 images).

Extras on disc seven include a series 5 teaser film titled The Strange Case 0f The Missing Corpse (3 minutes 17 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with actor Patrick Macnee titled Patrick Macnee Video Message (3 minutes 43 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with actress Carol Cleveland (4 minutes 36 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with screenwriter Roger Marshall (38 minutes 7 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for A Sense of History (136 images), How to Succeed … at Murder (73 images), Honey for the Prince (149 images), The Strange Case 0f The Missing Corpse (4 images), and Publicity Stills (31 mages).

Extras on disc eight include The Avengers at 50 a screenwriters’ panel discussion featuring screenwriters Brian Clemens, Richard Harris, Richard Bates and Terrance Dicks (21 minutes 24 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with stunt-double Cyd Child (13 minutes 56 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with screenwriter/actor Jeremy Burnham (8 minutes 8 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with composer Laurie Johnson (40 minutes7 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Diana Rigg German Super8 films: Das Diadem (20 minutes 57 seconds, LPCM mono, no dialog just music), Minikillers (41 minutes 57 seconds, LPCM mono, no dialog just music), and Der Goldene Schlüssell (6 minutes 47 seconds, LPCM mono, no dialog just music), an interview with Brian Clemens at the British Film Institute in London (7 minutes 22 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for The Avengers Fashion Show (16 minutes 3 seconds), and Diana Rigg (7 minutes 42 seconds).

Extras on disc nine include an introduction for The Bird Who Knew Too Much with screenwriter Brian Clemens (2 minutes 20 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Fear Merchants - episode trims (1 minute, no sound),Escape in Time (3 minutes 2 seconds, no sound), vintage German television interview with actor Patrick Macnee and actress Diana Rigg (9 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), German opening titles (4 minutes 30 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), The Avengers at 50 interview with screenwriter Brian Clemens (21 minutes 53 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Grenada Plus Points for The Fear Merchants (1 minute 31 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Escape in Time (1 minute 28 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and The Bird Who Knew Too Much (1 minute 12 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for The Fear Merchants (37 images), Escape in Time (29 images), and The Bird Who Knew Too Much (27 images).

Extras on disc ten include an audio commentary for The Winged Avenger with screenwriter Richard Harris, an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for The Living Dead (2 minutes 7 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), From Venus with Love - episode trims (2 minutes, no sound), The See-Through Man - episode trims (2 minutes 23 seconds, no sound), Grenada Plus Points for From Venus with Love (1 minute 50 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The See-Through Man (59 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Winged Avenger (1 minute 3 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and The Living Dead (1 minute 23 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for From Venus with Love (36 images), The See-Through Man (27 images), The Winged Avenger (35 images), and The Living Dead (28 images).

Extras on disc eleven include an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for The Correct Way to Kill (2 minutes 10 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for Epic (2 minutes 41 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary for Epic with actor Peter Wyngarde, three vintage They’re Back (47 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), archival series 5 trailer (1 minute 34 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), archival series 5 German trailer (1 minute 54 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Grenada Plus Points for The Hidden Tiger (56 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Correct Way to Kill (1 minute 2 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Never, Never Say Die (1 minute 25 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and Epic (1 minute 1 second, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for The Hidden Tiger (39 images), The Correct Way to Kill (45 images), Never, Never Say Die (16 images), and Epic (49 images).

Extras on disc twelve include an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for The Superlative Seven (2 minutes 5 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station (3 minutes 48 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for The Joker (3 minutes 12 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary for The Joker with filmmakers Sam Clemens and George Clemens, sons of writer/producer Brian Clemens, a vintage newsreel titled Diana Rigg Receives Television Award (2 minutes 44 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Grenada Plus Points for The Superlative Seven (1 minute 32 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station (1 minute 11 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Something Nasty in the Nursery (1 minute 2 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and The Joker (1 minute 6 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for The Superlative Seven (49 images), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station (27 images), Something Nasty in the Nursery (37 images), and The Joker (30 images).

Extras on disc thirteen include an audio commentary for Return of The Cybernauts with stunt-double Cyd Child, The Avengers at 50 interview with Patrick Macnee’s biographer Marie Cameron (16 minutes 52 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Grenada Plus Points for Who’s Who??? (1 minute 1 second, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Death’s Door (46 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and Return of the Cybernauts (1 minute 32 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for Who’s Who??? (34 images), Death’s Door (18 images), and Return of the Cybernauts (46 images).

Extras on disc fourteen include an introduction with actress Anneke Wills for The £50,000 Breakfast (1 minute 22 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with stunt coordinator Raymond Austin (20 minutes 35 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Avengers at 50 interview with actress Anneke Wills (12 minutes 9 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Grenada Plus Points for Dead Man’s Treasure (1 minute 20 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The £50,000 Breakfast (1 minute 18 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and You Have Just Been Murdered (1 minute 24 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for Dead Man’s Treasure (17 images), The £50,000 Breakfast (44 images), and You Have Just Been Murdered (33 images).

Extras on disc fifteen include an introduction with screenwriter Brian Clemens for Murdersville (2 minutes 1 second, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary for Murdersville with screenwriter Brian Clemens, bonus series 6 episode titled The Forget-Me-Knot (51 minutes 20 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a home video programme titled The Avengers: A Retrospective (62 minutes 50 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a vintage Diana Rigg from 1973 (LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an excerpt from The New Avengers episode titled K is for Kill that features an appearance by Emma Peel (1 minute 37 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Grenada Plus Points for  Murdersville (1 minute 27 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), The Positive Negative Man (1 minute 27 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Mission… Highly Improbable (1 minute 8 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and The Forget-Me-Knot (1 minute 13 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and photo galleries for Murdersville (14 images), The Positive Negative Man (19 images), Mission… Highly Improbable (14 images), and Publicity (74 images).

Extras on disc sixteen include a bonus series 2 episode titled Death of a Great Dane (53 minutes 50 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an audio commentary for Death of a Great Dane with screenwriter Roger Marshall, a bonus series 3 episode titled Don't Look Behind You (53 minutes 39 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an introduction with actor Patrick Macnee and actress Honor Blackman for Don't Look Behind You (1 minute 56 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary for Don't Look Behind You with actress Honor Blackman and Paul O'Grady, a bonus series 3 episode titled Dressed to Kill (51 minutes 6 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a bonus series 3 episode titled The Charmers (51 minutes 26 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a bonus series 1 episode titled Tunnel Of Fear (52 minutes 24 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a vintage newsreel titled Honor Blackman’s Judo Book (1 minute 17 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an audio commentary for Honor Blackman’s Judo Book with actress Honor Blackman and Paul O'Grady, and The Avengers at 50 interview with actress Honor Blackman.

Other extras include a one-hundred and twenty page booklet (limited to 1,500 copies) with an essay titled The Emma Peel years written by Dick Fiddy, and story information for every episode taken from the original studio files, and a collectable double-sided hardbox packaging (limited to 1,500 copies).

Summary:

The Avengers was a British sci-fi television series from the 1960s that lasted six series (seasons). This series' only mainstay was its leading man, Patrick Macnee, in the role of John Steed. Throughout this series' run, he had a total of four partners: series one: Ian Hendry in the role of Dr. David Keel; series 2 and 3: Honor Blackman in the role of Dr. Cathy Gale; series 4 and 5: Diana Rigg in the role of Emma Peel; and series 6: Linda Thorson (Tara King). The Avengers would hit its peak during the Emma Peel years, with series 5 being the first in color! And when it comes to popularity, The Avengers reached its apex with series 5. By the time Emma Peel arrived for the fourth series, the show had already made the switch from video tape to 35mm, and it was also during the fourth series that the show would become one of the first British television shows to be shown on American television.

Series 4 would consist of twenty-six episodes, and here is a list of the twenty-six episodes that have been included in this collection.

The Town of No Return / The Murder Market / The Master Minds / Dial a Deadly Number / Death at Bargain Prices / Too Many Christmas Trees / The Cybernauts / The Grave-Diggers / Room Without a View / A Surfeit of H2O / Two’s A Crowd / Man-Eater of Surrey Green / Silent Dust / The Hour That Never Was / Castle De’ath / The Thirteenth Hole / Small Game for Big Hunters / The Girl from AUNTIE / Quick-Quick Slow Death / The Danger Makers / A Touch of Brimstone / What the Butler Saw / The House That Jack Built / A Sense of History / How to Succeed … at Murder / Honey for the Prince

In terms of overall quality, there was a huge leap between Series 3 and Series 4. With the switch from video to film being one of the strongest reasons for season four, the switch to film elevated each episode beyond your run-of-the-mill television series. Essentially, each episode was like a fifty-minute movie. Another area where this switch greatly benefits is its striking use of black-and-white cinematography, which at times has a film noir-like look to it.

And not to be overlooked are the first-rate screenplays that also pitted John Steed and Emma Peel against a wide variety of nemeses. Some of the villains for season four include the Cybernauts, a man-eating carnivorous alien plant, a villain mastermind who uses his telepathic powers to steal secrets, and a pair of plots involving nuclear missiles. Also, this season features two doppelgangers: in one episode, John Steed has a double, and in another episode, Emma Peel has an impersonator.

Another area where Series 4 delivers and then some are the performances from all involved in making this show, especially the extraordinary performances from Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee. And when it comes to casting, this season features many well-known actors like Michael Gough (Batman), Burt Kwouk (A Shot in the Dark), André Morell (The Hounds of Baskerville), Peter Wyngarde (The Innocents), Julian Glover (For Your Eyes Only), Roy Kinnear (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), and Sue Lloyd (Corruption).

Looking back, it is hard to imagine that Series 4 originally started off on the wrong foot and that very early on, they had to replace its lead actress. Fortunately, from there, they found the perfect actress in Diana Rigg, and her undeniable chemistry with Patrick Macnee would take the show to the apex of its popularity.

Series 5 would consist of twenty-four episodes, and the U.S. release for series 5 also includes the episode The Forget-Me-Knot. In the UK, this episode is actually the first episode of series 6, and it also marks the final appearance of the Emma Peel character. For this release, here is a list of the series' twenty-four episodes.

The Fear Merchants / Escape in Time / The Bird Who Knew Too Much / From Venus with Love / The See-Through Man / The Winged Avenger / The Living Dead / The Hidden Tiger / The Correct Way to Kill / Never, Never Say Die / Epic / The Superlative Seven / A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station / Something Nasty in the Nursery / The Joker / Who’s Who??? / Death’s Door / Return of the Cybernauts / Dead Man’s Treasure / The £50,000 Breakfast / You Have Just Been Murdered / Murdersville / The Positive Negative Man / Mission… Highly Improbable

Though the success of the fourth and fifth series clearly lay in the charisma of its two main characters, John Steed and Emma Peel, Also, both of these characters have well-defined personas, which only further enhances their appeal.

Other reasons why The Avengers peaked with these two characters include first-rate screenplays that also pitted Steed and Peel against a wide variety of nemeses. a comic book character that comes to life and commits murder; ghosts; invisible foes; life-like robot replicas of the recently deceased; blackmailers; a killer that can carry electricity and at the optimum time use said electricity to kill its target; and the return of one of The Avengers' most formidable enemies, the Cybernauts. are just a few of series 5's villains.

Another area where The Avengers excels is in the exceptional performances from all those involved in making this show. Not to mention how many well-known actors appeared on the show, including Barbara Shelley (Village of the Damned), Jack MacGowran (The Fearless Vampire Killers), Julian Glover (For Your Eyes Only), Michael Gough (Batman), Christopher Lee (The Horror of Dracula), Charlotte Rampling (The Night Porter), Donald Sutherland (Don't Look Now), and Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein).

Vibe-wise, there is a clear difference between the Emma Peel era and that of her predecessor, Dr. Cathy Gale. With series 5's shift towards a more whimsical presentation being one of its more durable assets, by the time The Avengers reached series 5, the show was clicking on all cylinders.

If you're a fan of Emma Peel's episodes of The Avengers, this Imprint TV release is a must-have. All of the episodes are given solid audio and video presentations, and there is a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.









































Written by Michael Den Boer

The Big Gundown – Grindhouse Releasing (Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo) Theatrical Release Date: Spain/Italy, 1966 Director: Sergio Sollima Writers: S...