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When Sergio Leone turned Lee Van Cleef into a major star with For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the actor sensibly stayed in Italy to make several more spaghetti westerns, including this one from Leone’s former assistant Tonino Valerii that genre aficionados rank amongst the best ever made.

Giuliano Gemma plays street cleaner Scott Mary, relentlessly bullied by the people of the small town of Clifton. When legendarily ruthless master gunfighter Frank Talby (Van Cleef) rides into town, Scott seizes the opportunity to lift himself out of the gutter, and possibly even surpass Talby’s own skills. But what is Talby doing in Clifton in the first place?

This lively, intelligent western, notable for the chemistry between its charismatic leads, some memorable action set-pieces (including a rifle duel on horseback that has to be seen to be believed), and a jazzy Riz Ortolani score, is presented here in an exclusive high-definition restoration from the original Techniscope negative. (Taken from the Arrow synopsis.)


Unfortunately a sudden influx of review material has left me rather short on time, so I'm not going to be making any detailed observations about the film. Those of you who enjoy such things might want to check out Gabe Powers' review of the US release here. He knows a lot more about the genre than I do so his thoughts on the feature itself will be more insightful than anything I can offer after this, my first ever viewing of a spaghetti western.

Instead I'm going to focus on the technical aspects of the release, so let's get things started with details of the restoration process taken from the accompanying booklet:

About the Transfer: Day of Anger is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with original mono 1.0 sound.

Day of Anger has been exclusively restored for this release by Arrow Films.

The original 2-perf Technoscope 35mm camera negative was scanned in 2K resolution on a pin-registered ArriScan at Technicolor, Rome. The film was graded on the Nucoda grading system and thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and light scratches were removed through a combination of digital restoration tools.

The two language soundtrack versions were transferred from the original optical soundtrack by IntraMovies, Rome and restored at Deluxe Restoraton, London. Some wear and noise remain on the soundtracks in keeping with the condition of the materials. At times the audio synch will appear loose due to the soundtrack being post-dubbed during the original production.

The restoration of Day of Anger was completed in 2K resolution.

Video


As mentioned above, this release of Day of Anger was exclusively transferred by Arrow and features a brand new restoration from the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative. Both versions of the film are presented here in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (1080/24p).

For the purposes of this review I opted for the longer Italian version of the feature, although I did skim the International version to check for consistency. After what seems like a relatively long stint of third-party licensed titles it was nice to once again view something that Arrow transferred in house, as those tend to be the releases where the label really shines. The first thing that struck me was the level of detail, which belies the film's age and origins. Grain is very well-preserved and finely resolved, and although not spotlessly clean there are relatively few instances of print damage or film artefacts to mention. Certainly, I didn't see anything that could be considered particularly distracting. Image contrast is good and the warm colour palette is well-saturated. Although skin tones are far too orange to be called natural it is a stylistic choice rather than an issue with the grade. In any event, almost every major Hollywood movie has been doing the same thing for at least the last five years! As is usual for an Arrow title the encode is solid and free from issues created by digital noise reduction and edge enhancement etc.

All things considered this is a pretty spiffy-looking presentation; one that shows just what can be accomplished with a good image harvest and some careful restoration.

Audio


The Italian version of the feature includes both English and Italian LPCM 1.0 soundtracks, while the International version includes just English LPCM 1.0. Optional English subtitles are included (both standard and SDH).

After consulting our resident expert Gabe Powers I opted for the English soundtrack for the purpose of this review. As all of the sound was added in post-production half of the cast are going to be dubbed regardless of which track one decides to listen to, so it would seem that there's no real right or wrong choice in this case. I did flick across to the Italian track in order to compare a few scenes, but there didn't appear to be much of anything in it. Anyway, audio is generally good, although it doesn't quite reach the standards of the visual transfer. Obviously things are limited by the nature of the monaural mix itself, but dialogue and effects are always intelligible (if very obviously added in post) and the music sounds great, especially Riz Ortolani's instantly recognisable theme. There is little noise on the track in spite of the warning in the accompanying booklet, and I don't recall any drop-outs and such.

Source limitations aside, this is an impressive effort for a comparatively low-budget spaghetti western.

Extras


A fairly modest collection (by Arrow's standards) of bonus material is included and breaks down like this:

  • Previously unreleased 2008 interview with Tonino Valerii
  • Brand new interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  • Brand new interview with Tonino Valerii’s biographer Roberto Curti
  • Deleted scene
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
  • Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Howard Hughes (author of Spaghetti Westerns), illustrated with original poster designs

Overall


Day of Anger was an enjoyable first foray into the world of spaghetti westerns, offering a simple story with memorable characters and action scenes. Arrow’s dual-format release delivers a fantastic high-definition visual presentation and solid audio in either language, and while the extras aren’t quite as plentiful as usual they are still informative (especially for the uninitiated). Fans should be over the moon with this one and if, like me, you’re looking to ease yourself into this genre of cinema you could do a lot worse.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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