Major Dundee (2-Disc Limited Edition) – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1965
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Writers: Harry Julian Fink, Oscar Saul, Sam Peckinpah
Cast: Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton, James Coburn, Michael Anderson Jr., Senta Berger, Mario Adorf, Brock Peters, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson
Release Date: June 28th, 2021 (UK), June 29th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 135 Minutes 50 Seconds (Extended Cut), 122 Minutes 18 Seconds (Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, LPCM Mono English (Extended Cut), DTS-HD Mono English (Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Versions)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £34.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)
"Major Amos Dundee, a vainglorious Union Cavalry officer, who mounts an expedition to hunt down Apache war chief Sierra Charriba. Building his own army of criminals, ex-slaves and Confederate POWs - among them one Captain Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris), whose intense former friendship with Dundee is tainted with a sense of betrayal on both sides - Dundee heads into Mexico, his eye fixed firmly on a last shot at greatness." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Video: 4.25/5 (Extended Cut), 4/5 (Theatrical Cut)
Here’s the information provided about the extended cut's transfer, "4K scan by Sony Pictures".
Major Dundee extended cut comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 49.8 GB
Feature: 32.8 GB
Here’s the information provided about the theatrical cut's transfer, "from a 2K scan".
Major Dundee theatrical cut comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 40.6 GB
Feature: 32.6 GB
The sources used for both versions are in great shape, colors and flesh tones look correct, image clarity, contrast and black levels look strong throughout, there are no compression related issues and grain remains intact. It should-be noted that the image does not look as strong when there’s an optical. Also, though both transfers seem to come from the same source that Twilight Time used for their Blu-ray, the result is a stronger encode from Arrow Video.
The extended cut comes with two audio options, LPCM mono mix in English with original score by Daniele Amfitheatrof and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English with new score by Christopher Caliendo. The theatrical cut comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. All three audio mixes sound great, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and ambient sounds are well-represented. With the DTS-HD 5.1 offering up a solid track that does a good job expanding the original mono source. Both versions comes with removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras on the disc that contains the theatrical cut include UK theatrical trailer (3 minutes 17 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), UK theatrical trailer uncropped (3 minutes 18 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), US theatrical trailer (3 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), German theatrical trailer (3 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM mono German with English subtitles), deleted and extended scenes: compiled scenes with audio commentary by film historian and critic Glenn Erickson (6 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Major Dundee and Teresa’s Swimming scene (40 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Knife Fight (3 minutes 38 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles) and Silent Extended Outtakes (4 minutes 20 seconds) and a vintage featurette about Major Dundee’s stunts titled Riding for a Fall (7 minutes 23 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles).
Extras on the disc that contains the extended cut include Animated Galleries: Major Dundee on the Set, Major Dundee Colour Stills, Major Dundee Portrait Stills and Promoting Major Dundee, 2005 re-release trailer (2 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with filmmaker Mike Siegel who discusses his beginnings and his ongoing historical project about director Sam Peckinpah titled Mike Siegel: About the Passion & Poetry Project (43 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette with nine actors who talk about working with legendary director Sam Peckinpah, featuring Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, James Coburn, David Warner, Ali MacGraw, L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins, R.G. Armstrong, Isela Vega titled Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah Anecdotes (25 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a documentary about the making of Major Dundee by Mike Siegel, featuring James Coburn, Senta Berger, Mario Adorf, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Gordon Dawson titled Passion & Poetry: The Dundee Odyssey (75 minutes 25 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English/German with removable English subtitles for German language), a visual essay by David Cairns titled Moby Dick on Horseback (29 minutes 6 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and three audio commentary tracks, the first audio commentary is with Nick Redman, David Weddle, Garner Simmons and Paul Seydor, the second audio commentary is with film critics Glenn Erickson and Alan K. Rode and the third audio commentary is with Glenn Erickson.
Rounding out the extras is a fold out poster and a sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled A Tale of Ambition, Obsession, and Desperation: Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee written by Jeremy Carr, an essay titled Major Dundee written by Farran Smith Nehme, an essay titled War Without End written by Roderick Heath, an essay titled Sam Peckinpah: Romantic Existentialist written by Neil Snowdon and information about the transfers.
In the early 1960’s Sam Peckinpah quickly established himself as one of better American directors making westerns. Where most of his contemporaries made westerns that by that time felt dated due to their looking backward instead of forward. Sam Peckinpah was a visionary filmmaker who would give the western genre and action cinema a much-needed kick in the ass with his explicit depiction of violence and his revisionist take on the American western.
By the time Sam Peckinpah directed Major Dundee, he had only directed two feature films, The Deadly Companions and Ride the HIgh Country. And though he showed a lot of growth from his first film, two his second film. The amount of creative growth from Ride the High Country to Major Dundee was ten fold.
Major Dundee is an epic film about a larger than life protagonist who’s driven by his obsessions. Cast in the role of Major Dundee is Charlton Heston, an actor who’s portrayed many larger than life characters. Most notably Moses in The Ten Commandments and the protagonist in Ben Hur. Charlton Heston delivers a solid performance that has just the right amount of gravitas. That said, the rest of the cast has many recognizable faces and they are all very good in their respective roles.
Though there had been western set in the Civil War before Major Dundee. The result is a film that stands apart from all Civil War themed American westerns that came before Major Dundee. And nowhere is this clearer, then when it comes to elements that are undeniably Sam Peckinpah.
From a production standpoint, though they're not many areas where Major Dundee does not excel. There are a few areas where Major Dundee comes up short. Most notably a haphazard narrative that starts off very strong, only to lose momentum after Major Dundee achieves his first goal. That said, most of these shortcomings can-be attributed to the film being altered by the producer for its theatrical release. And fortunately this release offers a more rounded out extended cut that corrects some of the theatrical cut’s shortcomings.
To say, they don’t make films like Major Dundee anymore, would be an understatement. It’s from a bygone era of filmmaker when director’s had a significant role in the creative process.
Arrow Video gives Major Dundee an excellent release that comes with two versions of the film and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.
Extended Cut Screenshots.
Theatrical Cut Screenshots.