A murder, the old west, a widow hellbent on revenge and justice, and good old fashioned western shootouts. That is just a bit of what to expect from Cemetery Without Crosses. This Italian Western film comes to blu-ray by way of Arrow Films, and gets a worthwhile restoration from the distributor.
The Movie Itself [usr 3.5] :
We start out this film following a man on his horse being chased by an angry posse. As he arrives at his house out in the middle of nowhere, he falls off his horse, badly injured, right in front of his wife, Maria. In almost no time, the group catches up, snags him, and hangs him on the spot. This isn’t the first time that the Rogers family has clashed with Maria and her kin. In fact, both of her brothers in law, thieves by trade, have had issues with the family as well.
These two brothers are the first to pack their things and plead with Maria to leave town, but the newly widowed woman has one thing on her mind – vengeance.
Cemetery Without Crosses, also known as The Rope and The Colt, is an interesting watch, as most Westerns of the time depicted the men as being the more ruthless and cunning villains in the land, but Maria has a passion and fire in her eyes that make her one of the more terrifying foes in the genre. Several times throughout the film others plead for her to give up on her mission, but each time she strengthens her resolve. In the end, she enlists the help of Manuel, a lone gunman from a nearby town, to carry out some harsh justice.
What follows is gritty, violent, and a good watch. The acting is believable and matches the tone of the film perfectly. If you are a fan of the old west, this is a film worth watching for sure.
Video Quality [usr 3] :
It’s quite obvious that the source film was in rough shape, as there is a good amount of grain to this transfer. Fortunately, this does not really detract from the experience. The up close shots all look pretty good, and the grit almost adds to the tone of the film.
That isn’t to say that the movie looks bad, either. Arrow carefully and meticulously goes through and removes as much grain and damage from the source that they can before releasing their films, and it shows for sure.
In the end, this won’t be one to watch for it’s amazing quality, but it’s perfectly presentable.
Audio Quality [usr 3]:
When it comes to audio quality, this movie loses some points mostly because of my distaste for how films of this time sounded. One of the worst scenes for this during the movie involved the family eating at the dinner table. I will never forget the sound of forks on plates for the rest of my life. But again, that’s just sort of a sign of the times more than anything specific to this film.
Having said all that, the audio track is actually well done. There is no real pop going on anywhere, and the gun shots and other various action sounds are all crisp and on queue. I will be the first to admit that the distaste for the audio here is a purely personal preference thing.
What’s In the Packaging [usr 4]:
- Clear blu-ray case
- Two sided cover artwork
- Booklet with essays
Special Features [usr 3.5]:
As always, Arrow does a good job of including an array of extra features.
- Remembering Sergio (5mins HD)
- Filmed exclusively for the Arrow release, this interview discusses how director Robert Hossein was influenced by his relationship with Sergio and Spaghetti Westerns.
- Location Broadcast (8mins HD)
- A French television report on the film’s production process, with a few interviews.
- Interview with director Robert Hossein (2min HD)
- Trailer (4min HD)
- Two sided cover artwork
- Booklet containing essays.
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- English subtitles
- Audio Formats:
- English 1.0 PCM
- Italian 1.0 PCM
Final Thoughts [usr 3.5]:
It’s unlikely that this film will convert any viewers to the Western genre, but if you already enjoy the old west, this will definitely be worth the watch.
Also, speaking as a newly found fan of Arrow Films, I can also say that as a distributor, they are putting out a lot of eclectic and interesting movies, so if you want to watch something “different”, this also may be right up your alley.
Full disclosure: This feature was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process.