• A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
    Released on: August 28th, 2018.
    Director: Franco Giraldi
    Cast: Alex Cord, Arthur Kennedy, Roy W. Colby, Robert Ryan, Enzo Fiermonte, Nicoletta Machiavelli
    Year: 1968
    Purchase From Amazon

    A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die – Movie Review:

    Clay McCord (Alex Cord) is a crooked gunslinger with a problem – he suffers from sits and seizures at inopportune times, losing control of his hands, which is clearly not a good quality in a cowboy, good guy or otherwise. His condition seems to be getting worse when he and his partner Fred Duskin (Giampiero Albertini) enter the town of Escondido, a tough neighborhood where the law seems to have little presence. It seems like a great place to lay low and hide out from the bounty hunters prowling the area looking for him – particularly because Marshal Roy W. Colby (Arthur Kennedy) has made it clear that, based on New Mexico’s Governor Carter (Robert Ryan), criminals will, at least temporarily, be given exoneration.

    McCord is no fool, however. He doesn’t trust Colby and he figures something is up. That said, here he can get help from Dr. Chase (Enzo Fiermonte) and make time with lovely Laurinda (Nicoletta Machiavelli) … at least until it all hits the fan and his past catches up with him.

    Franco Giraldi’s direction here is okay. Not amazing, but okay. And that basically describes the movie as a whole. Alex Cord, who would go on to co-star alongside Jan Michael Vincent in the 80s TV hit Airwolf, is fine in the lead. His character is at least interesting in that his condition puts him at a disability, causing his hands to react with unpredictability and making him a little more vulnerable than many of his ilk. His performance is not legendary, but it’s fine. Arthur Kennedy, who appeared in all manner of films but will be memorable to cult movie buffs for his turns in Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and Rome, Armed To The Teeth, his the right sort of screen presence to play a Sheriff, but he’s no spring chicken here. He does well enough with the role, but again, he’s not all that memorable. Robert Ryan, from The Wild Bunch and score more films, is actually quite good in his part but it is a small one. Nicoletta Machiavelli, who pops up in Navajo Joe, The Hills Run Red and Tony Arzenta, isn’t given all that much to do but she’s fine in her role and quite attractive.

    The film moves at a reasonable pace and it’s competently shot. The cinematography from Aiace Parolin is good, but never approaches the grandness of the genre’s best. Still, there are good compositions here and some impressive moments where the framing amplifies the story well. The score from Carlo Rustichelli is passable, but forgettable.

    Note that the version of the movie included on this Blu-ray release is the shorter American release of the film and not the extended international version of the movie said to run approximately sixteen-minutes longer.

    A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die – Blu-ray Review:

    A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die debuts on Blu-ray from Kino in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed in its original aspect ratio of 1.78.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc. The transfer isn’t reference quality but it’s pretty decent. It’s clear that this wasn’t given a full-blown restoration as there’s mild print damage here and there and small white specks are pretty common. Colors look good and contrast is fine, while black levels are solid if a step back from reference quality. Compositions look decent enough here, the framing isn’t affected by the minor shift from 1.85.1 to 1.78.1.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in English. There are no alternate language options though English subtitles are 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.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary track from Alex Cox who, in typical Alex Cox style, delivers an engaging track that is a mix of trivia, anecdotes and his own personal thoughts on the film and those who made it. He covers locations, production history, how and why the headliners in the cast wound up in the film, some of the thematic elements that set this one apart from other Spaghetti Westerns and a fair bit more. Cox is always fun to listen to, he’s got a good sense of humor but also really knows his stuff.

    We also get the film’s alternate ending included from the international version of the film with optional commentary from Cox included. Aside from that we get menus and chapter selection as well as trailers for

    A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die – The Final Word:

    A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die is no masterpiece but it’s an entertaining enough Spaghetti Western likely to entertain the less discerning fans of the genre out there. Kino’s Blu-ray release is the shorter version but it looks decent and Alex Cox’s commentary is, as seems to be the rule with his tracks, very worthwhile. Not essential, but a fun watch.

    Click on the images below for full sized A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die Blu-ray screen caps!