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DVD Review: MAJOR DUNDEE extended version

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PHOTOGRAPHY

MAJOR DUNDEE the Extended Version

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 136 minutes, audio commentary, incomplete deleted scene, extended scene, silent outtakes, vintage featurette, extended excerpt from Peckinpah documentary, trailers, trailer artwork outtakes, Exhibitor promo reel excerpt, promo stills and poster artwork

STUDIO: Columbia/ SPHE

RELEASE DATE: 9-20-2005

MAJOR DUNDEE is what many call a flawed classic due to the way the film was taken away from Sam Peckinpah in the editing room (because they fired him). An earlier cut before the theatrical cut was found (with 12 additional minutes that were combined with the theatrical cut for the new extended version) filling in some gaps in MAJOR DUNDEE- a version that producer Jerry Bresler prepared. A new score was commissioned for this extended cut. This extended cut is closer to what Peckinpah intended. Peckinpah's rough cut came to about four and a half hours. An incomplete deleted scene has been found, but the rest of the cut footage probably is lost except for some silent outtakes and a couple of deleted scenes. MAJOR DUNDEE was a troubled production witha cut budget that the director didn't want to shoot at and the script problems. MAJOR DUNDEE is an enjoyable adventure/ western. Major Dundee, commander of a prison for Confederate prisoners during the Civil war, decides to put togetehr a ragtag regiment of soldiers, black soldiers, confederates, prisoners, and cowboys into Mexico after a band of Apaches. He is at odds with the leader of the Rebels (Richard Harris) as they hunt for the Apaches while trying to avoid conflicts with the French army. No matter what you think, MAJOR DUNDEE is a bold picture with he themes and realism that would be focused in his greatest masterpiece, THE WILD BUNCH.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

The restoration of this classic shows on a great transfer. Video noise is present a little bit and other flaws due to the age of the print (and the way the film was spliced together). Aliasing isn't present.

AUDIO: English 5.1 (Dolby Digital), English 2.0 Mono, French 2.0

Subtitles: English, French, Korean

The 5.1 mis has the new score where the English Mono track has teh original score. Dialogue is clear, but I do like the new score compared to the old one. I do wish I could switch between the two English tracks, but it wasn't possible on the DVD player and DVD-ROM I played the DVD on. Extras have no subtitle option.

SPECIAL FEATURES: MAJOR DUNDEE has tons of extras. Inside teh DVD case is a 4 page essay by Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant at the DVD Talk web site). The DVD itself has many extras that are good to look at. The incomplete deleted scene is a knife fight (with three silent outtakes that almost finish the scene after the scene) and the extended scene is a longer version of a swimming scene. Also silent outtakes from the opening sequence are on the disc. Two trailers (the original trailer and the 2005 extended cut trailer), Trailer artwork for a proposed trailer, an except from an Exhibitor Promo Reel, and Promo stills and Poster artwork makes me love the extras even more. An extended 20 minute exceprt from Mike Siegel's documentary (Passion & Poetry- the Ballad of Sam Peckinpah) focuses on stories about the production of MAJOR DUNDEE featuring interviews with cast (R. G. Armstrong, Senta Berger, James Coburn)and crew (and also Peckinpah's daughter). RIDING FOR A FALL is a vintage featurette on the stuntmen and stunts of MAJOR DUNDEE (available in a black & white version and a faded color version (taken from 8 mm film)). Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary by three Peckinpah historians who have wrote books on the director. They give some facts about the production, talk about the film, and weigh in their opinions on the extended cut (and get sidetracked for a couple of minutes talking about Peckinpah's second marriage).

FINAL ANALYSIS: Sony Pictures has given a top notch treatment to MAJOR DUNDEE on DVD that is a great DVD for anyone to have in their collection if they are a Western fan, Peckinpah fan, or a Charlton Heston fan.

this DVD Review is (c)9-19-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and news/updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia