Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 17th, 2015
BluRay released: March 24th, 2015
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Grindhouse Releasing
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Wanting to consolidate and tie up loose ends, the mafia hires Paul a recently released from prison gangster to help them take out seven targets. Not the trusting type anyone Paul enlists the help of Giorgio a Las Vegas based hit man to help him with three of his targets. After he successful completes his contract with the Mafia Paul then recruits three friends to help him pull off the ultimate payday. He wants them to help him kidnap the pope and hold him for ransom.
“I want a dollar from every Catholic in the world!” – Paul
Content wise, Gone with the Pope bears more than a striking resemblance to Duke Mitchell’s previous film Massacre Mafia Style. Both films revolve around a protagonist who is part of the mafia and said protagonist plays the role of a hit-man in both films. With that being said, this is where the majority of the significant differences end. Where Massacre Mafia Style had a more in your face approach to the story at hand, while Gone with the Pope goes in the opposite direction in regards to the tone of the film. Other areas where Gone with the Pope differs from Massacre Mafia Style is its religion overtones and tongue and cheek sense of humor.
From a production stand point this is a film that was shot with very limited resources and the end result is a film that often wears its flaws as a badge of honor. The most surprising aspect of this film is it’s visually which far exceed expectations and they are one the few elements that give this film a more polished look.
Structurally the plot presents two sides of its protagonist. The first half of the film is a story about a hit-man who is ready to leave his former life behind and finally settle down with the woman he loves. Then there is the second half of the film were plan to kidnap and hold for ransom comes into play. With the film’s finale perfectly capturing his conflicted state of mind.
And then there is the acting which is mostly made of up non actors and to further hamper their performances the entire film was shot without any sound. Fortunately Gone with the Pope like Massacre Mafia Style are not films that dependent on the performances, since it is ultimately the vibe of each that drives their narratives.
Gone with the Pope comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release this film and its transfer has undergone an extensive restoration. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels look very good and outside of a few out of focus shots, the bulk of the film looks crisp throughout. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and grain look natural throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Dialog comes through clearly enough to follow, everything sounds balanced and then film’s score sounds appropriately robust. And of these two audio mixes the mono mix if the more preferable due to the limitations of the source materials.
Extras for this release include, an extensive image gallery, a filmography for Duke Mitchell, trailers for Gone with the Pope (2 minutes – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), Massacre Mafia Style (2 minutes 18 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (2 minutes 10 seconds), two brief interview segments with cinematographer Peter Santoro, the first interview (3 minutes 14 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) who discusses all the work that was required to get Gone with the Pope completed and the second interview (6 minutes 11 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) he discusses how one day Duke Mitchell approached him about shooting insert shots for porno and when the day came to film said inserts that never happened, an extended scene titled ‘Frankie Carr and the Nov-Elites: Live in Vegas’ (8 minutes 15 seconds), outtakes (12 minutes 41 seconds), deleted scenes (17 minutes 18 seconds), two brief segments with actor Jim Lo Bianco, the first segment is Jim Lo Bianco doing an overdub for the film (2 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) and the other brief segment with Jim Lo Bianco where he is asked if he ever considered a career in acting and how actor Tony Lo Bianco is his cousin (1 minute 52 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), yet another brief interview segment, this time with John Murgia who watches the film for the very first time and as he watches he reminisces about working on the film (6 minutes 18 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) and a featurette titled ‘Gone with the Pope World Premier’ (20 minutes 48 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen).
Other extras include a featurette titled ‘Shooting Pope’ (23 minutes 18 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) Peter Santoro gives a detailed and insightful overview into the look of the film and the equipment used and how they were able to overcome various obstacles.
The main extra included with this release is a ‘Making of’ documentary titled ‘Gone with the Pope the Players’ (66 minutes 52 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) with comments from cinematographer Peter Santoro, editor’s Robert Florio and Bob Leighton, actors Jim LoBianco and John Murgia and filmmaker Matt Cimber whose company distributed Massacre Mafia Style. This film took nearly thirty years to complete, so should not come as a surprise just how compelling and insightful this documentary about its making and resurrection is. Also another way that this documentary excels is how all the participants tell their stories and what they remembered without any filter.
DVD-Rom extras include two PDF files, the first pertaining to the film’s screenplay and the second one about the restoration work done to complete this film.
Rounding out the extras is a poster, an essay about the film written by John Skipp and a Grindhouse Releasing trailers gallery. Easter egg’s include Q & A shot at the New Beverly from 2010 (14 minutes 47 seconds). Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release.
When one puts into consideration all the hurdles that this film had to jump through before it finally received its home video debut via this exceptional release from Grindhouse Releasing. The end result is truly one of the most impressive home video releases of all time, highly recommended.