I was dumb enough to recently buy the non-restored, public-domain One-Eyed Jacks Bluray the other day. I had this idea that it might look a tiny bit better than the version sitting on YouTube. Or perhaps in the realm of the laser disc version I owned in the ’90s, which was tolerable. Well, the Bluray is awful — positively the cruddiest-looking film I’ve ever seen on any home-video format, including broadcast TV.
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It’s just tragic. The elements of this, Paramount’s last VistaVision film, are, I’ve been told, in good or very good shape, and it could look like a jewel on a remastered Bluray if the copyright issue could be somehow resolved. It’s been a public doman title for several years.
The only film directed by Marlon Brando, One-Eyed Jacks “has been hailed by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino,” Jeremy Richey wrote in early ’08, “one that signaled the rise of a more violent and cynical cinema, but for some reason it’s never really gotten its due.
“The main reason for its continuing dismissal in some circles is that it remains a compromised film. After a gruelling six months worth of shooting Brando either ran out of steam while editing, or the film was finally just taken away from him or most likely, both.
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“It is known for sure that Brando’s original five hour cut was whittled down to the 141 minutes we have now, and the incredibly bleak ending (Pina Pellicer being shot and killed by Karl Malden during the final gun battle) was changed.
“Even in it’s compromised state One-Eyed Jacks remains a visionary film and a totally unique one. It’s impact can be felt in the American Westerns that followed by Sam Peckinpah, Monte Hellman and Arthur Penn; and also in the European westerns that would gain prominence just a few years later.
“One-Eyed Jacks seems like a clear precursor not only to Sergio Leone but to a breed of mystical European Westerns like Sergio Corbucci‘s The Grand Silence and Enzo Castellari‘s Keoma.”
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