Released by: Kino Studio Classics
Released on: December 13th, 2016.
Director: Peter Collinson
Cast: Richard Crenna, Stephen Boyd, Farley Granger, Rosanna Schiaffino, Aldo Sambrell
Year: 1973 Purchase From Amazon
Character actor Richard Crenna had a long and distinguished career dating all the way back to an episode of "I Love Lucy" in the early 50's, but he's probably best remembered today for his acerbic Colonel Trautman in three hugely popular RAMBO films. Crenna had a great face, wth a well-worn look that could exude kindness or steely resolve. Here, in an interesting Western, he's surprisingly convincing as an amnesiac gunslinger searching for the answers to his murky past.
Based on a Louis L'Amour novel, THE MAN CALLED NOON traffics is some stereotypical plotting from the family massacre revenge angle to the usual double and triple crosses from various characters. We open with Noon (Crenna) in his hotel room. Assassins attempt to kill him in a sniper assault, and Noon barely escapes by falling out of a window. The fall gave him a very hard knock on the head and he's now got a very bad case of amnesia. He boards a train to get out of town be runs into the mysterious Rimes (Stephen Boyd), who seems to have some clues as to Noon's real identity. The two men form an uneasy partnership that sees them hiding out at the ranch of a widow named Fan (Rosanna Schiaffino) who's property has been commandeered by the local crime boss. From there we have a fortune in hidden gold that Noon knows the location of - provided his memory can be jogged - and a duplicitous judge (Farley Granger), who'll stop at nothing to get the cash along with his accomplice Peg (Patty Shepard) who represents the black widow archetype.
This is a film that while fairly violent and shot in Spain in the 70's doesn't really have the feel of a spaghetti western. The pacing is often slow and deliberate, and the dialog runs more toward the romantic and introspective. Indeed, the script really bears the hallmarks of L'Amour's slightly flowery style. This isn't a bad thing for those looking for something a little more adult in this genre though. And the narrative and acting is engaging enough to make this an interesting film.
Director Peter Collinson (THE ITALIAN JOB), has an interesting style. Lots of moody weirdly angled shots and a real penchant for dusty atmosphere. The silent opening sequence, with its rolling tumbleweed, howling dogs and desolate mood is a terrific example of pure filmmaking that recalls Sergio Leone at his best. It also has great set design from hidden caverns to decaying old west mansions. The film also manages to avoid the cartoonish aura that often seeps into spaghetti Westerns - there are no ridiculous shootouts or grotesque caricatures to deal with. And the central mystery is set up well and resolved intelligently. There's definitely an Agatha Christie feel to the film's final reel, but it works.
Kino's 1080p AVC encoded 1.78:1 framed transfer is the usual solid job this company is known for. Detail is good, no DNR is visible, and everything looks organic. Considering Collinson's affection for dust and haze, this transfer pulls through quite nicely. Some minor print damage was visible but nothing serious and black levels were appropriately deep. The transfer shines most strongly in facial closeups - especially Crenna's marvelously expressive visage.
Sound you ask? 2.0 DTS-HD MA is the name and slightly artificial sounding but perfectly listenable is the game. There was clearly a lot of ADR used in this film but it's nothing disastrous. The mix is good with the only caveat being a slight tendency towards brittleness in the very highest range and a certain minor off kilter boost to a few of the sound FX like explosions. Adequate and seemingly true to the source elements is my verdict.
There are no extras - just some trailers for other Kino titles.
The Final Word:
This is an interesting and engaging film and recommended to those that enjoy more traditional Westerns shot with flair. It's also a good showcase for Crenna's acting chops. Collinson is good with mood and atmospherics and he has both a decent script and strong cast and star to work with here. There's also enough violence to keep the kettle boiling in this one. Western fans should check this one out.
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