Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 26th, 2017
BluRay released: October 7th, 2014
Approximate running time: 157 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD 5.1 French, DTS-HD 5.1 German, DTS-HD 5.1 Spanish, DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, Swedish
BluRay Release: MGM
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $14.99
Duck You Sucker opens with the iconic image of Juan Miranda as he pisses on an ant hill. Set during the Mexican revolution of 1913, the film continues 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, 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. The first of a series of flashbacks in the films shows Mallory, his friend and a girl driving through the countryside. 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.
The second of Sean’s flashbacks take place in a pub, and Sean’s Friend is handing out flyers to the IRA members. 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. Miranda becomes a hero to the people for freeing the prisoners. With nowhere to go Miranda and Mallory repel the enemy as they approach. When they go back to the cave after forcing the enemy to retreat they walk into a mass grave as everyone including Miranda’s whole family had been slaughtered. Leone’s camera examines the carnage as the faces of the victims are shown for the last time. Dr. Villega now in enemy custody is asked to identify his fellow conspirators. Mallory, in the crowd, watches the events unfold. He sees Dr. Villega sitting with Col. Gunther Ruiz. This sets off Mallory’s third flashback in which his friend has turned him in. After Mallory helps Miranda escape they decide that they should send a locomotive loaded with dynamite to crash into the approaching train. In the fourth flashback Mallory is forced to kill his friend. After the trains collide a battle ensues. In the battle, Mallory is shot in the back. Mallory would have the last say as he ignites one final blast.
Duck You Sucker has been released under several alternate titles since its initial theatrical release. The film’s Italian language title is Giù la testa and the English translation of this title is Keep Your Head Down. Other titles that this film has been released under include, A Fistful of Dynamite and Once Upon a Time… the Revolution.
Besides being released under several different titles, this film has also been released in versions which censored Sergio Leone’s original vision. The original U.S. theatrical release removed thirty-seven minutes and it’s running time was two hours.
Duck You Sucker is the odd man out in Sergio Leone’s legacy of films. With his Man with no Name trilogy with a then unknown Clint Eastwood, being the film’s that would launch them both into international fame, followed by his masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West.
Giù la testa or as we now know it, Duck You Sucker began as a film that Sergio Leone originally intended to produce. And as the film evolved, he would be forced to take on a larger creative role once he became the film’s director.
Content wise, this film greatly differs from his previous four films which preceded this film. The film’s narrative has two distinctive halves. With the first half of the film featuring a lighter than the second half of the film which takes on a darker, political tone.
The cast are all exceptional in their respective roles. With the inspired casting of Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night, The Last Days of Mussolini) in the role Juan Miranda being this film’s standout performance. Other notable performances include, Romolo Valli (What?, Conversation Piece) in the role of Dr. Villega, a revolutionary who betrayal plays an integral role in the film’s finale and James Coburn (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid) in the role of John H. Mallory, an explosives expert who was forced to flee Ireland, after a friend betrays him.
Sergio Leone’s direction is masterful and once again, Ennio Morricone provides an evocative score that perfectly captures the mood. Redemption, play a large role in the story at hand and some of this most powerful moments are related to moments of self-reflection that involves regret. Another strength of this film is Sergio Leone’s use of flashback sequences, most notably the flashback in the film’s finale.
Duck You Sucker comes on a 50 GB dual layer (42.7 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used for this transfer is in great shape and this is the restored version of the film that contains all of the flashback sequences fully intact. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels remain strong throughout and details generally look crisp. There are some moments, like the flashback sequences which have an intended sot focus look too them and there are a few instances where darker scenes are not as crisp as the majority of this transfer is. There are no issues with compression, grain varies in degree throughout and in some scenes, grain is more pronounced. Out of the four Sergio Leone films that have been released by MGM on Blu-Ray, this transfer is easily the best of looking of these four films.
This release comes with a wide variety of audio and subtitle options, sadly the original mono mix has not been included for this release. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too. And as far as remixes go, this audio mix does a very good job creating a sound spectrum that is very satisfying.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 35 seconds), 6 radio spots (4 minutes 3 seconds), six featurettes – Location Comparisons (9 minutes 31 seconds), Restoration Italian Style (6 minutes 7 seconds), Sorting Out the Versions (11 minutes 36 seconds), Once Upon a Time in Italy (AKA The Autry Exhibition) (6 minutes 1 second), Sergio Donati Remembers “Duck You Sucker” (7 minutes 20 seconds) and The Myth of Revolution (22 minutes 10 seconds) and an audio commentary with film historian Sir Christopher Frayling.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Sergio Donati Remembers “Duck You Sucker” include, the origins of Duck You Sucker, how Sergio Leone was originally only going to produce the film ad why the film’s original director Peter Bogdanovich was replaced, his creative process as a screenwriter and collaborating with Sergio Leone.
Topics discussed by Sir Christopher Frayling in the extra titled The Myth of Revolution include, Sergio Leone, his thoughts about Duck You Sucker, how the tone and themes explored in the film were a byproduct of the political climate at the time in Europe, Sergio Leone’s evolution as a filmmaker, casting choices, the cast and his thoughts about their performances, why this film was released under several titles, key moments, the visuals and Sergio Leone’s use of flashback’s.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, Mao Tse-Tung’s text that opens the film, scenes that were cut from the film’s original U.S. theatrical release, how Rod Steiger’s role was written for Eli Wallach, background information about Sergio Leone and the cast, Ennio Morricone and the score and production related information.
Overall Duck You Sucker gets a solid release from MGM.