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Guns For San Sebastian (Blu-ray Review)

The other western coming this month from Warner Archive Collection is the 1968 Anthony Quinn/Charles Bronson starring film Guns For San Sebastian. To contrast with the other western Blu-ray coming out this month from Warner Archive Collection (There Was A Crooked Man…), Guns For San Sebastian is spaghetti western production. Little be it known that this was one of the few actually shot in Mexico instead of Italy. The release comes with a little vintage featurette and the trailer in its debut. You can land yourself a copy by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.

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Film

When fugitive Leon Alastray (Anthony Quinn) meets Father Joseph, a Franciscan priest, while on the run, the two form a friendship. Joseph helps Alastray avoid the law, and Alastray disguises himself to travel with Joseph. As they reach a ghost town, Joseph is shot dead from afar. Alastray then meets half-Indian Telco (Charles Bronson), who explains that the inhabitants are in hiding from a band of violent Yaqui Indians. Mistaken for the priest, Alastray helps the villagers fight back.

A spaghetti western shot in Mexico. Not the first, mind you, but a limited number happened that way. Guns For San Sebastian was also a multi-country production to boot. Its probably why the weirdest thing of it all seems to be that there was audio recorded on location. Pretty much all spaghetti westerns relied on just ADR’ing everything in post. So that the multi-lingual casts could just speak their native tongue and it would all be one language with a little movie magic. Here, you can tell its different, and its feels a bit more “big studio”-like than a raw and rough spaghetti western.

Like many spaghetti westerns, you could see the possibility of this flipping to a samurai film. The main story feels like it could have been a sort of western remake of a Kurosawa-like film. And in all honesty, its a nifty little tale of a man against his own odds taking on false identity and inspiring and giving strength to a small village. There’s a real build, development of character and sense of triumph in the film over the course of 110 minutes.

The film also sees itself with some terrific action on display with lots of fire, explosions and stunts. A lot of it is held for the big final battle which encompasses the film’s find thirty minutes. But, there are plenty of little sequences that touch in during the narrative’s duration. Its not the bloodiest of spaghetti westerns but its plenty effective in its own right. And it features some nice stand offs and acted sequences between stars Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson.

Guns For San Sebastian is about as rock solid as they come in the spaghetti or even B-level westerns. Quinn delivers a good, unique lead performance and character to unfold a terrific little story about his insertion to a small town being ruled by outsiders. The film has a lot of fun with its set, its battles and characters to make it one to check back in on every once in a while.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Guns For San Sebastian is loaded with a pretty outstanding image in its debut on the Blur-ay format. Its a crisp, sharp image with a nice layer of grain intact. Colors really dazzle and details a very strong. After the opening credits, which look quite brown and worn, the quality snaps right up and really pops off the screen for a lovely motion picture.

Depth:  Scale comes across pretty impressively as you get a sense of distance with the pushback on the hills, the village, characters and object medium in frame and the like. Motion is smooth and natural with no distortions from rapid movement.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and close to natural levels. Providing good shadow, shading, definition and saturation holding to details, textures and patterns. No crushing present.

Color Reproduction: This is quite a colorful film while being a village set piece in the desert. There’s a lot of pop from the nice green hills, red bandanas, colorful garments and more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures are clear and visible in any close up and medium shot.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Guns for San Sebastian actually provides a really terrific mono track. It carries some impressive deep tones that really do go give a solid bump. There’s no really present analog hiss here either. Effects, vocals and music are all wonderfully balanced and wound together with good space on one another. Sound effects carry some good layering, depth and range.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Plenty present with no analog his in the mix. Its interesting as a spaghetti western to see a lot of live audio present and not just the entire thing ADR’d. The audios blend quite well.

Extras

Vintage Featurette: San Sebastian 1746 in 1968 (SD, 9:54) – A decent little piece of vintage behind the scenes work, narrated and featuring on-set footage and interviews.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3:25)

Summary

Guns For San Sebastian finds itself a decent little spaghetti western with the unique backdrop of Mexico to give it its own flare instead of the usual Italy. Warner Archive Collection provides it with a pretty rock solid presentation to go with a nice little archival feature to add a little more heft to the disc. Western fans will want to grab this one, others may want to peak their curiosity with a streaming or rental view before purchase.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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