After the spaghetti western genre caught the attention of international audiences in the Sixties, a flurry of good, mediocre and outright pedestrian entries rolled into the next decade, and admittedly it's tough for novice fans – essentially those familiar only with the iconic works of writer/director Sergio Leone – to know which films represent not only the best of the bunch, but stand alone as lovingly crafted westerns.
Many of the films were peppered with an eclectic array of international and Hollywood stars – in the case of “Bullet,” we have the clever teaming of Klaus Kinski and Gian Maria Volonte, both from Leone's “For A Few Dollars More” (1965) - and though a few directors treated their entries as serious filmic works, as with any popular genre, once into the fad phase, along came the hacks, whose collective efforts offered little that was genuinely fresh and innovative.
1967 was still early into the spaghetti western, and director Damiano Damiani had already made the successful move from screenwriter to director. Better-known to English audiences for “Amityville II: The Possession” (1982), “A Bullet for the General” is a superbly directed film, offering a good balance of humour, violence, and exciting action sequences – all beautifully photographed by Antonio Secchi. Anchor Bay's gorgeous transfer is made from a crisp print, and maintains excellent colour balance.
“Bullet” benefits from some high caliber pedigree, particularly in the music department. Having scored the cult favourite “Django” (1966), Luis Bacalov approached “Bullet” with a broad, orchestral score – supervised by Sergio Leone's own musical voice, Ennio Morricone – yet reflected the film's personal conflicts via Mexican folk songs and vivid solo guitar.
The DVD's mono sound mix is pretty straightforward, although the original English dub track doesn't have the voices of Klaus Kinski and Martine Beswick. Beswick, often cast for her figure and exotic looks, suffers less in the dub track, but Kinski's manic energy is poorly matched by the chosen voice actor; when Kinski's cheek twitches, and the blue-eyed actor delivers his lines with his own patented intensity, the dub actor simply can't keep up with Kinski's verbal ticks and mannerisms.
Originally released separately Dec. 18th, 2001, “A Bullet for the General” is also available as part of Anchor Bay's “Once Upon A Time In Italy” Collection (Cat. # DV12436).
The boxed set includes “A Bullet For The General,” “Companeros,” “Four Of The Apocalypse,” “Keoma” and “Texas, Adios”. This 5-disc set is housed in a sleeve, each film in a clear slim case, with chapter index and lobby card printed on the inner side, plus attractive tan covers reflecting the set's western theme.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan