Blu-ray Movie Review: ‘Major Dundee: Limited Edition’

Director Sam Peckinpah’s convulsed and epic 1965 Civil War Western returns to the Blu-ray format packaged for hardcore fans at Major Dundee: Limited Edition (Arrow Video, PG-13 rated, 2.35: 1 aspect ratio, 136 minutes, $ 59.95).

Film historians will be quick to point out that Peckinpah lost control of the production when it was most crucial, in the editing room for the final theatrical cut, resulting in the director’s firing and a published clipping that resulted in a shoddy story and uneven that never delivered his vision.

This producer’s extended cut of the film adds 12 minutes and slightly helps cement the plot as viewers learn about Major Amos Charles Dundee (Charlton Heston), a disgraced Union ordeal officer who pays his penance as a commander. from a prisoner of war camp in the New Mexico Territory.

After cleaning up an Apache massacre of ranchers and soldiers, led by war chief Sierra Charriba (Michael Pate), Dundee vows to find young Americans kidnapped by the chief, end his reign of terror, and of course restore his reputation. Patty.

He gathers a mixed bag of his soldiers, Confederate prisoners led by Captain Benjamin Tyreen (Richard Harris) and a variety of criminals, con artists and even drunkards to go to Mexico and hunt down the Apaches in the most “Dirty Dozen” way. .

The scenes between Heston and Harris are fiery gold throughout, while Peckinpah’s gang of veteran actors, including James Coburn as the one-armed Indian explorer Samuel Potts; RG Armstrong as the local minister, the Rev. Dahlstrom; and LQ Jones as Confederate Arthur Hadley – cape over the western sand.

This producer’s movie preview gave a better representation of Peckinpah’s grand vision, filling in some gaps in the plot, such as the reasons Tyreen’s men were threatened to hang them, but ultimately the end of The movie is a jarring disappointment, action packed, but often aimless and casting an overly positive light on the ever-ambitious Dundee.

Drawn from a Sony 4K scan, the high-definition release takes advantage of its widescreen, colorful Panavision origins.

The presentation delights with outdoor scenes showing the desert landscapes of southwest Durango Mexico and the beauty of Villa Hermosa, all masterfully captured by cinematographer Sam Leavitt.

The package also includes the cut of the film in the United States (122 minutes) obtained from a 2K scan and still offers a nice image, but clearly shows the destruction in the narration.

However, both cuts reveal the scope of the intrusion of Peckinpah’s near-masterpiece and allow film connoisseurs to imagine what it would have been like if the director had stayed fully in charge and released a final edit to theaters.

Best extras: This is where the limited edition release really sticks out, even when it comes to showcasing your average Westerner.

Arrow Video brings together some of the best extras from the 2005 DVD release and the 2013 Twilight Time Blu-ray release, with separate musical scores by Christopher Caliendo and Daniele Amfitheatrof, plus adding some new features.

Let’s start with three separate excellent commentaries from film historians.

First a solo with Glenn Erickson, who is gleefully obsessed with comparing the script to various cuts, and then Mr. Erickson joins Alan K. Rode for more information and even true story perspectives.

The third offers a final group track from Nick Redman (documentary maker) and Peckinpah biographers David Weddle, Garner Simmons and Paul Seydor, offering the most in-depth production perspective of the three commentary tracks.

The following three included segments provide a more comprehensive description of the film and the director.

First, and foremost, is the 76-minute documentary “Passion & Poetry: The Dundee Odyssey” filmed in the early 2000s that covers a brutal production and offers first-hand accounts from stars like Senta Berger (The Forgettable Romance Interest). Dundee), a sincere Coburn, Jones and Armstrong, as well as their daughter Lupita.

Next, “Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah Anecdotes,” 26 minutes long and overloaded with memories, has a collection of actors discussing work with the lead director, including Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, David Warner, Ali MacGraw , LQ Jones and Bo Hopkins.

Finally, a 45 minute addition features “Passion & Poetry” project director Mike Siegel speaking about the origins and ongoing creation of a historical chronicle of Peckinpah’s life and work.

Also worth checking out is David Cairns’ recently published 30-minute visual essay called “Moby Dick on Horseback.” He makes a strong argument that producer Jerry Bresler (director of the Gidget movie franchise) had no idea what he was doing or getting into when he allowed Peckinpah to direct.

Mr. Cairns looks back at the difficult shoot and then reviews the problems and deteriorating character development. It reminds us to the screenwriter that he missed the third act, the loss of murder scenes in slow motion, and whether Dundee was just an inarticulate mess or an unfinished masterpiece.

Completing its limited edition is a hard cardboard case with new works of art by painter Tony Stella.

In addition to the pair of digitally packaged discs, the package contains a large (16-inch by 20-inch) double-sided folded poster highlighting Mr. Stella’s work; an original movie poster; and a 60-page, full-color, glossy, bound booklet packed with photos and featuring informative essays by film historians Farran Nehme, Roderick Heath, Jeremy Carr and Neil Snowdon.

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