Blu-ray movie review: ‘Major Dundee: Limited Edition’


Director Sam Peckinpah’s 1965 epic Civil War Western returns to the packed Blu-ray format for hardcore fans of the movie Major Dundee: Limited Edition (Arrow Video, rated PG-13, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 136 minutes, $59.95).

Film historians will quickly point out that at the crucial moment, Peckinpah lost control of production in the editing room of the final theatrical cut, leading to the dismissal of the director and the release of the re-edit, resulting in a shoddy, patchy story that never fulfilled his vision.

This producer’s film’s lengthy cut adds 12 minutes, and viewers see a disgraced Union cavalry officer, Maj. New Mexico Territory.

After Dundee cleans up a massacre of Apache farmers and soldiers led by war chief Sierra Charriba (Michael Pate), he vows to find the young American children kidnapped by the chief, end his reign of terror and, of course, restore his tarnished reputation.

He assembles a ragtag band of soldiers, Confederate prisoners led by Captain Benjamin Tyreen (Richard Harris), and various criminals, swindlers, and even drunks to travel to Mexico to hunt down the Apaches in the most “Dirty Dozen” fashion.

The scenes between Heston and Harris are gold throughout, while Peckinpah’s veteran cast – James Coburn as the one-armed Indian scout; Samuel Potts; As local minister R.G. Armstrong, Rev. Dahlstrom; and LQ Jones as Confederate Arthur Hadley – the stratum in the West.

This producer’s preview of the film gave a better representation of Peckinpah’s grand vision by filling in some confusing plot gaps, such as the reasons why Tyreen’s men were threatened with hanging, but in the end, the ending is a shocking disappointment. action but often aimless and forever ambitious sheds an too positive light on imperfect Dundee.

Extracted from 4K scanning by Sony, the high-definition version takes advantage of its widescreen Panavision color origins.

The presentation is brimming with outdoor scenes showcasing the desert landscapes of the Southwest and the beauty of Villa Hermosa with a focus on Durango Mexico, all masterfully captured by cinematographer Sam Leavitt.

The package also includes a US cinematic cut (122 minutes) of the movie from the 2K scan, which still looks beautiful but clearly shows the fragmentation in the storytelling.

However, both cuts reveal the degree of intrusion of Peckinpah’s nearly masterpiece, allowing film professionals to imagine what would happen if the director gave up entirely on control and released one final cut in theaters.

The best extras: Even if it showcases the average Westerner, this is where the limited edition version really excels.

Arrow Video brings together the best extras from the 2005 DVD release and the 2013 Twilight Time Blu-ray release, adds individual sheet music from Christopher Caliendo and Daniele Amfitheatrof, and some new features.

Let’s start with three separate, excellent comments from film historians.

First, a solo with Glenn Erickson, who is obsessively obsessed with comparing the script to various fictions, and then Mr. Erickson teams up with Alan K. Rode for more insight and even real history perspectives.

Third, he offers a final group piece that offers the deepest production perspective of three comment pieces from Nick Redman (documentarian) and Peckinpah biographers David Weddle, Garner Simmons, and Paul Seydor.

Then, the three included chapters provide a more detailed overview of the movie and the director.

First and foremost is the 76-minute documentary “Passion and Poetry: Dundee Odyssey” filmed in the early 2000s, covering a brutal production and presenting first-hand accounts of stars like Senta Berger. Dundee), a friendly Coburn, Jones and Armstrong, as well as his daughter Lupita.

Then, in the 26-minute, memory-fueled “Passion and Poetry: Anecdotes of Peckinpah,” a series of actors discuss working with the veteran director including Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, David Warner, Ali MacGraw, LQ Jones and Bo Hopkins.

Finally, a 45-minute supplement features Mike Siegel, director of the “Passion and Poetry” project, talking about the origins and ongoing creation of a historical chronology of Peckinpah’s life and work.

Also worth watching is David Cairns’ newly released 30-minute visual essay titled “Moby Dick on Horseback.” It makes a solid argument that producer Jerry Bresler (head of the Gidget film franchise) had no idea what Peckinpah was doing or getting into when he let him direct.

Mr. Cairns takes another look at the tough take and then reviews the issues and deterioration of character development. It reminds us that the screenwriter missed act three, the slow-motion kills were gone, and whether Dundee was just a rambling mess or an unfinished masterpiece.

Complementing the limited edition is a hard cardboard box containing new artwork by artist Tony Stella.

Alongside the pair of digitally packed discs, the pack includes a large (16″ x 20″), folded, two-sided poster highlighting Mr. Stella’s work; an original movie poster; and a 60-page, full-colour, glossy, hardcover booklet filled with photographs and informative writings by film historians Farran Nehme, Roderick Heath, Jeremy Carr, and Neil Snowdon.

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