Written by: George Pacheco on March 11th, 2015
BluRay released: March 30th, 2015 (UK), March 31st, 2015 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 117 minutes (Italian cut) 95 minutes (U.S. cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR (USA) / 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English (Italian cut), LPCM Mono English (U.S. cut)
Subtitles: English (Italian cut) English SDH (Both Versions)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
This is the setting for director Tonino Valerii’s masterful spaghetti western Day of Anger, a world where the bullied, humble slop-boy known as Scott Mary-played by the handsome and charming Giuliano Gemma-lives among the rich and superior around him, many of which look down upon Scott’s illegitimate birth and lack of self-confidence.
Enter the iconic Lee Van Cleef’s character of Frank Talby, an infamous gunslinger who comes into town and shakes Scott Mary’s world forever, as the hard working young man ingratiates himself into Talby’s world, in search of guidance and tutelage. Valerii’s film hinges upon the student-and-master relationship between these two characters, as Gemma builds up his gun fighting skills and bravery alongside Talby, while at the same time sparking the powder keg of vengeance Scott holds for the townspeople who have made his life in Clifton so miserable.
It’s difficult not to root for Van Cleef and Gemma as they get the upper hand on all who stand in their way, yet Ernesto Gastaldi’s epic screenplay does a great job and exposing its audience to the subtle layers of his characters’ motivations and personalities, all leading up to some genuinely surprising twists, turns and double-crosses. Indeed, Day of Anger is anything but a typical shoot ’em up spaghetti western, instead captivating the viewer with some real emotional depth and a satisfying sense of personal drama.
Enzo Serafin’s cinematography is top notch and extremely well framed, with graceful camera movements and sharp editing cuts from Franco Fraticelli. Meanwhile, famed composer Riz Ortolani delivers one of his finest and most bombastic western scores, featuring a huge, big band-fueled main theme anchored by a maddeningly memorable guitar melody.
Day of Anger touches upon many themes here, from the classist separation of the “haves” and the “have-nots,” to the idea of the fading gunslinger who is searching for his place in the dying west…at any cost. Valerii’s film is masculine without focusing upon traditional tropes of machismo, instead focusing upon the relationships and challenges between the old and the young, teacher and student and Gemma’s identity as the illegitimate bastard sun of a prostitute.
There’s so much to take away here from Day of Anger, far more than might be expected from those who feel that the spaghetti western genre begins with revenge and ends with a gold heist. Instead, Tonino Valerii proved that you could tell a damn good story, with some serious emotional resonance that bears ripe fruit throughout repeated viewings.
Day of Anger comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This combo release comes with one Blu-Ray which contains both cuts of the film and two DVD’s, one DVD contains the Italian cut, while the other DVD contains the U.S. cut.
Day of Anger is one of the inaugural Blu Ray releases from the newly launched American arm of the United Kingdom’s fan-favorite Arrow Video company, and truly fires on all cylinders with a bulletproof combination of gorgeous visuals, ace audio and copious extras. The print used here is direct from the 35mm negative, and singlehandedly blows away any bootleg copy into the dust with a clear, warm, damn near-perfect transfer.
Riz Ortolani’s booming score comes through loud and clear through the film’s original mono sound, while the disc itself contains plenty of extra content, including archival interviews with Valerii (10 minutes 50 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (13 minutes 4 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), as well as a lengthy, 42 minute discussion of Valerii’s career with the insightful and intelligent Italian journalist Roberto Curti, author of the fantastic Italian Crime Filmography. Trailers, a deleted scene, cool reversible artwork and A twenty eight page booklet with cast & crew info, two essays and a text piece, the first two essays ‘Day Of Anger: Angel Eyes Meets Angel Face’ and ‘Shooting Locations’, both written by Howard Hughes author of Spaghetti Westerns, a text piece titled ‘Creed of a Gunfighter: Frank Talby’s Bullet Points’ and information about the restoration / transfer round out this exceptional release from Arrow Video, a definitive release which is destined to rank fairly high on most year-end lists for 2015.