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)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (U.S. Version)
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 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).
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.
Written by Michael Den Boer