• Bad Man’s River

    Released by: Kino Studio Classics
    Released on: October 6th, 2015.
    Director: Eugenio Martin
    Cast: Lee Van Cleef, James Mason, Gina Lollobrigida, Gianni Garko, Aldo Sambrell
    Year: 1971
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Eugenio Martin, Bad Man’s River stars the late, great Lee Van Cleef as a man named Roy King. Roy is a bank robber and after his latest successful heist, he hops a train to get out of town and along the way makes the acquaintance of a gorgeous widow named Alicia (Gina Lollobrigida). She just so happens to be travelling with a priest and amazingly enough, fast talking Roy cons Alicia into marrying him right then and there – hey, the priest doesn’t have anything else going on, so why not? Roy figures he’s got it made until she outcons him and leaves him tied up, taking off with his loot and he’s locked up in a mental hospital.

    Roy escapes from the hospital, no surprise there, and decides, after reuniting not only with his old gang -Angel (Simon Andreu), Ed (Gianni Garko) and Odie (Jess Hahn). He also tracks down Alicia and, oddly enough, takes her up on a job offer. The man she’s currently married to, Francisco Montero (James Mason), is a revolutionary with plans to blow up a Mexican army building. They expect a cool wad of cash in return but don’t get it. Instead, Roy and his men are lured with the possibility of a bigger payout should they help Montero swindle the Mexican government out of guns and money.

    A mediocre mix of western action and hapless comedy, Bad Man’s River isn’t going to climb to the top of anyone’s favorites list but it does have its moments. How much you get out of this will probably depend on your appreciation of Van Cleef. He’s fun to watch here, smirking his way through one plot twist after another, and he uses his quirky screen presence very well. The rest of the cast? Well, they do their thing and that’s fine but they’re just not as memorable. Gina Lollobrigida looks great here and she’s got a bit of a sassy thing going on that’s kind of fun but James Mason isn’t given nearly enough screen time to make much of an impression. Gianni Garko is fun to see while Simon Andreu and Jess Hahn kind of coast through all of this. The beautiful Diana Lorys shows up here and steals a scene or too as one of the revolutionaries, but she too is underused.

    The problem with the film is the shifts in tone. It goes from fairly serious and action oriented to goofy and comedic without much care for consistency. The score doesn’t help this, as it bounces into cornball territory on more than one occasion, distracting from the events at hand rather than complimenting them as you’d hope it would. The movie does look quite nice, however. The cinematography is quite sharp and the ultra-wide aspect ratio is good at letting us take in all of the scenery that serves as the backdrop for the story.


    Ba Man’s River debuts on Blu-ray from Kino in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed in its original aspect ratio of 2.45.1 widescreen. This isn't a reference quality HD transfer by any stretch but it's quite nice looking and the detail is frequently impressive. Sometimes the grain is heavier and thicker in certain scenes than others but color is quite good. Print damage is present throughout but it's not severe nor particularly distracting. Black levels are good and there aren't any compression artifacts to note, nor are there any obvious instances of noise reduction or edge enhancement. Some restoration work would probably have helped here but all in all this one looks quite nice on Blu-ray.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in English. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. The dialogue sounds fine and although the gunshots don't pack as much punch as they probably should, the score absolutely benefits from the lossless audio format.

    Extras include trailers for two other Lee Van Cleef starring vehicles – Barquero and Sabata – along with static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Bad Man’s River is far from Lee Van Cleef’s shining moment but it’s passably entertaining and it features some fun supporting players. Kino’s Blu-ray is light on extras but it looks good, if never great, and offers up the best home video presentation to date.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Ugh. I hate comedy westerns but the power of Van Cleef compels me.