• Face To Face



    Released on: August 18th, 2015
    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Director: Sergio Sollima
    Cast: Gian Maria Volonte, Tomas Milian, William Berger, Aldo Sambrell
    Year: 1967
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    The Movie

    This Blu-Ray release from Kino Lorber has been a long time coming, for this 1967 spaghetti western from notable Italian director Sergio Sollima is one of the few name checked examples of the genre still awaiting a proper Stateside issue on home video.

    No more, however, for Face to Face has finally hit American shores at an affordable, non-import price, after languishing for many years in either grey market editions or pricy region 2 editions. So was Sollima's film worth the wait? In a word, yes, for Face to Face is a fine example of the spaghetti western left in the very capable hands of a talented and intuitively powerful storyteller.

    The film centers around a history professor-played with typical intensity by famed Italian character actor and political firebrand Gian Maria Volonte-who is forced out of his tenure due to a life-threatening illness. Volonte's character of Brad Fletcher heads out west, and eventually crosses paths with outlaw Solomon Bennett (Tomas Milian), whose vicious reputation as a bandit is belied by his noble and intelligent nature. Fletcher is taken hostage, and winds up rolling with Bennett as he attempts to rebuild his "Wild Bunch" gang for one more run at riches.

    It's from here where one of the film's major themes is drawn, namely that of the relationship between Fletcher and Bennett as the former becomes accustomed to ruthless outlaw life, while the latter begins to realize the honor in living an honest life. These character arcs are represented very well within the performances of both Milian and Volonte, as both powerhouse actors push and pull the best from each other, delivering a balanced and nuanced tale of friendship, admiration and frustration.

    Face to Face also benefits from a superb supporting cast, not the least of which is William Berger as Milian's old partner Siringo, who may be hiding more than a few secrets. Berger was a known face within the world of spaghetti westerns, but Sollima ensures that Berger has much more to do than mug as a one dimensional sidekick of villain, instead showcasing a wider range of emotions from the talented Austrian actor. Other typical Euro actors of the day also make memorable appearances here, including Spain's Aldo Sambrell, the gorgeous Linda Veras and Parisian Carole Andre as the cute and spirited Cattle Annie.

    Sollima doesn't put all of his action eggs in one basket here, and Face to Face is more deliberate sort of western, equally dependent on characterization and dialogue as it is on shootouts and set pieces. It all works well, however, and we really get a solid sense of our cast, their motivations and personalities. Sure, it may not exactly top Sollima's earlier spaghetti work with The Big Gundown or his follow-up Run, Man, Run but those are tough acts with which to compare. Instead, Face to Face works best as an excellent middle entry in what is one of Italy's best pseudo-trilogies of epic spaghetti western style.

    Video/Audio/Extras

    Kino Lorber's AVC encoded 1080p Blu-Ray of Face to Face is framed at 2.35.1 and presented with two different cuts, the main HD feature of which is the 93 minute English dub of the film, a print which features nice flesh tones and solid audio in English language DTS-HD format. The looks aren't outstanding, but it's nicely rendered with a film which has long been difficult to obtain here in the States. An alternate cut of the film is also presented as a standard definition extra here, clocking in uncut at 112 minutes, with almost an extra half hour of footage.

    This second print fares significantly worse, with muted flesh tones and a low, muffled Italian audio track which can be difficult to hear at times, although the subtitles are well translated on screen. Having both versions of the film is great, however, with the English dub serving as best option for audiophiles and those wanting a tighter, quicker version of the film, while the Italian cut proves superior for completists searching for Sollima's uncut vision. The only other extra is a trailer for Navajo Joe.

    The Final Word

    Face to Face rocks; a fine example of why the spaghetti western is still so beloved by genre film fans to this very day, and a flick whose day has finally come here on Blu-Ray. Kudos to Kino for providing what is probably the best release of the film to date on home video.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!