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A Fistful of Dynamite Comparison 
Written by: on April 22nd, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Sergio Leone
Writers: Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati, Luciano Vincenzoni
Cast: James Coburn, Rod Steiger, Romolo Valli

DVD released: 2003 2005
Approximate running time: 147 150
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 15
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, German and French with English subtitles Dolby Digital 5.1 English and French with English subtitles
DVD Release: MGM MGM
Region Coding: Region
Retail Price: $20.95 $31.95
MGM’s Region 2 DVD
MGM’s Region 2 SE DVD

The Film :

A Fistful of Dynamite is set during the Mexican revolution of 1913, the film opens with a stagecoach of passengers who racist remarks set the tone for the film. At first we are lead to believe that Juan Miranda is a harmless bandit, until we are introduced to his family of bandits who steal, kill, and rape whoever gets in their way. When Miranda meets Sean Mallory (James Coburn) he is inspired to rob Banco Nacional De Mesa Verde with the help of Mallory, an Irish terrorist, whose expertise in dynamite sets the plan in motion. At first Miranda has trouble convincing Mallory to help him rob the Banco Nacional De Mesa Verde. Soon after Miranda blackmails Sean they become partners until Sean gives him the slip. The story transforms into a much darker story once Miranda and his family arrive at De Mesa Verde with executions in the street. Reunited Miranda and Mallory blast their way into De Mesa Verde only to discover that it isn’t a bank anymore but a prison for political prisoners.


Framing wise both releases appear to be about the same and that is where the similarities end. MGM’s new special edition release trumps their previous a Fistful of Dynamite in every way. MGM’s new SE release has stronger colors, healthy looking flesh tones with solid black levels that remain constant through out. MGM’s new SE also offers a sharper image and there are no problems with edge enhancement or compression. It is hard to believe that these two DVD were only released a mere two years apart considering how drastically superior MGM’s latest incarnation of a Fistful of Dynamite looks.


MGM’s original release included a English Dolby Digital mono track that at times sound too thin and had some minor hiss, still nothing that ever becomes to distracting. For this new SE DVD release MGM has neglected to include the films original mono mix. Instead they have decided to include a new Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio mix. From the get go this new remix will have its detractors who have preferred the inclusion of the original mono mix. Overall this new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is one of the best I have heard to date that came from a mono source. This track is the cleanest this film has ever sound with dialog is crystal clear. The action sequences have never sounded as full and Morricone’s score has been elevated to another level. Also included for this release is a Dolby Digital 5.1 French language track. French and Dutch subtitles as well as English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired have been included.


While MGM’s previous region 2 release for a Fistful of Dynamite suffered from lack of extras as it only included the films original trailer. MGM’s new region 2 special edition delivers the goods and then some. Extras include a photo gallery, radio spots and the films original trailer. Other extras include five featurettes “Once Upon a Time in Italy”, “Sorting out the Versions”, “Location Comparisons” and “Restoration Italian Style”. This release also comes with two documentaries “The Myth of Revolution” and “Sergio Donati Remembers Duck You Sucker”. Rounding out the extras for this release is an audio commentary by Sergio Leone biographer Christopher Frayling. The extras included for this special edition cover a lot of ground and rarely is any information repeated.


MGM’s new special edition DVD for a Fistful of Dynamite is near perfect with just e few minor set backs including the lack of the original mono audio mix and the film is missing about 3 seconds of footage censored by the BBFC because of animal cruelty. While some fans of this film may be deterred from buying this release because of these two things most might just want to pick this release up now instead of waiting for the region 1 release from MGM which has no slated release date in the foreseeable future.

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