The first of Clint Eastwood's turns as Sergio Leone's laconic, manipulative, wandering gunslinger has not been served too well by MGM/UA's DVD release. Both widescreen and full-frame versions of the movie are presented. The widescreen transfer is non-anamorphic and letterboxed to 2.35:1, preserving the original film's aspect ratio. The source print seems to be fairly recent, but still shows some signs of wear, with periodic blemishes showing up, though there is overall no color fading. The transfer, however, has a slightly soft look to it, with a fair bit of grain and some visible compression artifacts. In addition, noise reduction seems to have been used and the image compressed in such a way that solid blacks have lightened and taken on a slightly greenish cast. The video gain also appears to have been unhinged for this transfer, as the brightness levels keep flickering in a number of sequences -- a noticeable and annoying problem. The audio is presented in mono and is essentially untouched -- no attempts at equalization, maximizing, or noise reduction seem to have been made, so that viewers will find themselves lowering the gain for the MGM/UA DVD logo and the main menu, then having to raise it again for the movie itself. There are also places on the soundtrack that crackle, pop, hiss, and hum, another annoyance for viewers in general -- fans of the Man With No Name films are likely to feel insulted. The sole extra on the disc is the U.S. trailer, which shows some damage, but is in generally good shape. It would have been nice to see an effort to include other materials as well.
This is the one that started it all for Clint. The first of the three spaghetti westerns. The Blu-ray offers up a decent looking High-def release and the DTS 5.1 soundtrack is an improvement over the mono on the DVD release.