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The films of Sergio Leone- The best available versions

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 (Edited)

As you might have figured out, Sergio Leone's films got the shaft not only when they were originally released, but also in our more enlightened days.

In this list, I will concentrate on the best available sources for the sound and video. This list will be updated when new sources are released.

The Dollars/ Man with no name Trilogy:

A Fistful of Dollars (1964):

Video: While the Italian restoration is commendable, the Germans took it one step forward using the AVC codec. However, the opening titles are in German.

Sound: The Italians included the original English mono in lossy AC3, while the Germans included it in lossless DTS.

Top choice: Fan cut using the opening titles from the MGM BD and the German video for the rest of the film. Such a cut is unavailable at the moment.

Avoid: The MGM BD. The video is DNR'd, EE'd, you name it.

For a Few Dollars More (1965):

Video: The Germans used more than one source to create an uncut version, the only one in existence on home video. But for some reason, they included a newly made opening card in German which replaced the original English one.

Sound: The Germans once more include the original English mono in lossless DTS.

Top choice: Fan cut which uses the opening card from the MGM BD and the German video for the rest of the film. It is available on a certain paradoxical forum.

Avoid: The MGM BD. The video is DNR'd, EE'd, you name it. The print used was also cut by 50 seconds.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966):

Video: The Italian BD has better colors while the 4K regrade by kk650 has better detail.

Sound: None of the BD's offer the original English mono at all, not even in lossy AC3. the only way to get the original English mono is from the LD synched by TheHutt.

Top choice: No top choice, the Italian BD/kk650's regrade with the LD mono soundtrack are the top 2, and as far as I'm concerned, the only ways to watch the film at the moment. The regrade is available at a certain paradoxical forum.

Avoid: The first MGM BD. The video is DNR'd, EE'd, you name it. Also, no original mono.

The Once Upon a Time/"America" Trilogy:

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968):

Here is where things get slightly more tricky. Changes in this film were mostly made during the 1985 restoration due to ignorance by the restoration team. The "rising" scene was put back into the film, which removes the edge of the tavern scene, and the finale music was replaced with "Farewell to Cheyenne". Since this was the most common version for the last 30 years, Paramount would have gotten quite a backlash for making changes to the film's "original" structure. The German and French TV versions should be the real DC's and have the original finale music intact.

Video: Paramount's BD has no contestants like MGM had in the Dollars trilogy. It's pretty good, but has the "rising" scene which should be cut. There is an Italian BD, but it might be a port.

Sound: While I commend Paramount for including the original mono soundtrack (Albeit in Lossy AC3), the music during the end credits is still wrong.

Top choice: None at the moment, but a fan cut is being worked on, which uses the Paramount BD as the main source for the video, and the LD as the main source for the audio.

Avoid: Nothing as yet.

Duck, You Sucker/Once Upon a Time in The Revolution/ A Fistful of Dynamite (1972):

Video: Italian BD is the best HD release at the moment, and I have heard no real complaints so far. However, it lacks English subtitles which the Spanish BD has. Both use the same master, but the Spanish BD uses the inferior MPEG2 codec and is at 24 FPS rather than 23.976

Sound: Italian BD includes the original English mono soundtrack in lossless DTS while the Spanish BD includes it in lossy AC3. The mono mix is presented in 2 channel dual mono on both releases. However, there is a lack of synchronization between the channels. The last line of the film is delivered in Italian for some reason, as well.

Top choice: A fan cut using the Italian video, fixing the DTS mono and including the subtitles from the Spanish BD. I fixed the English mono myself, but it is not perfect, as the final line has a slight hiss, as the source was different.  However, anyone who has the Italian BD video can certainly use this.

Avoid: The Spanish BD. Worse encoding of the same master as the Italian and lossy audio.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984):

Video: The old (2011) Warner BD isn't bad, but when compared to the Italian extended edition, it's showing less detail and image information than the Italian BD. However, the Italian BD compresses more than 4 hours of film with 3 Lossless audio options (2 of them are the Italian dub) on one BD50. At 17 MBPS VC-1, it walks a fine line on the compression issue. The video is also yellow tinted and the saturation lowered by at least 50%. The extended Warner BD is from the same master as the Italian BD, so the tinting and saturation problems apply. However, it is slightly better encoded with the AVC codec at 15 MBPS. The original cut provided is the exact same Disc released in 2011.

Sound: All releases offer the English soundtrack in 5.1, and while I don't have any issues with it, it would have been nice to have the original mono present. The LD could be used to preserve it.

Top choice: None at the moment. A regrade of the extended BD to match the colors of the first BD would be the best we will ever get in the foreseeable future. Such a regrade has been undertaken by kk650, and it is available through a certain paradoxical forum.

Avoid: The Italian BD. It's has worse encoding than Warner, and it is the same master.

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01 Distribution in Italy released Once Upon a Time in the West on BD back in December. I have a copy but haven't viewed it yet. Not sure if/how it differs from the Paramount BD in terms of PQ. I'll update this thread once I get a chance to check it out.

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How does the 01 Distribution version of TGTBATU compare to the Mondo version?

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<blockquote><p><strong>stretch009</strong> said:</p><p>How does the 01 Distribution version of TGTBATU compare to the Mondo version?</p></blockquote><p> </p>

If it's anything like 01's GBU Blu, it'll just be a region-coded version of the Mondo disc.

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flashback8 said:

stretch009 said:

How does the 01 Distribution version of TGTBATU compare to the Mondo version?

 



If it's anything like 01's GBU Blu, it'll just be a region-coded version of the Mondo disc.

 I'm guessing your GBU acronym is the same as my TGTBATU acronym therefore you answered my question.

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In this list, I will concentrate on the best available sources for the sound and video. This list will be updated when new sources are released.

While you are pointing out the German title cards for FAFDM, you also should probably point out that the German BluRay of FOD uses complete German intro credits. So you probably still would need a fancut using either English or Italian intro credits. :)

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 (Edited)

Duck, You Sucker/Once Upon a Time in The Revolution/ A Fistful of Dynamite (1972):

Video: Italian BD is the only HD release at the moment, and I have heard no real complaints so far.

Nope, there also is a Spanish BluRay version out there. Compared to the Italian release, it also contains English subtitles. However, it has three major flaws:

  • Video is in MPEG-2 as opposed to AVC
  • Video framerate is 24fps instead of 23.976fps
  • Audio is in lossy DD as opposed to DTS-HDMA of the Italian release.

Both the Italian and the Spanish version have issues with English audio: the left and right channel are slightly out of sync, therefore mono sounds like bad stereo; the synchronization is generally not good; and the last line of Miranda has been inserted in Italian instead of English ("What about me?").

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@ TheHutt

Thanks, I updated the list to reflect that.

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What about the recent MGM US/UK releases? What are those like?

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@Gogogadget

If you are referring to the Dollars trilogy, then all of MGM's BD's suffer from the same problems:

The video is DNR'd, EE'd, zoomed in, soft and overall shitty.

The mono soundtrack on each is a fold down from the 5.1 remix.

That's why I didn't even gloss over those, they are unacceptable, and as far as the film presentation goes, there are much better option that I have listed.

The one exception being the GBU 4K, but even that has only detail going for it, and it had to be regraded. The soundtrack's the same as the previous release, so again, no reason to actually depend on it.

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The mono soundtrack on each is a fold down from the 5.1 remix.

Actually, I heard that's not valid for MGM's "Dollars 1+2" - there mono is real mono. However, lossy.

Also, MGM's FAFDM is cut rather badly.

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 (Edited)

TheHutt said:

Actually, I heard that's not valid for MGM's "Dollars 1+2" - there mono is real mono. However, lossy.

 Oh? Well, even if that's true, the German BD's are still better.

And you're right about FAFDM being cut on the MGM, and pretty badly too, almost 50 seconds are gone.

Just in case, I'm listing releases to avoid too.

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Re: FAFDM:

Avoid: The MGM BD. The video is zoomed in, DNR'd, EE'd, you name it. The print used was also cut by 50 seconds.

The video is not zoomed in, it's just digitally processed (DNR+resharpen); the German disc uses the same MGM video master, but without digital processing.

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TheHutt said:

Re: FAFDM:

The video is not zoomed in, it's just digitally processed (DNR+resharpen); the German disc uses the same MGM video master, but without digital processing.

 The German BD uses a mixture of the MGM and Italian master and a 3rd unknown source. The Master itself isn't zoomed in, but the BD is. I saw captures showing that it has less information than the German BD, but that is another matter, it's still a bad disc.

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nirbateman said:

@Gogogadget

If you are referring to the Dollars trilogy, then all of MGM's BD's suffer from the same problems:

The video is DNR'd, EE'd, zoomed in, soft and overall shitty.

The mono soundtrack on each is a fold down from the 5.1 remix.

That's why I didn't even gloss over those, they are unacceptable, and as far as the film presentation goes, there are much better option that I have listed.

The one exception being the GBU 4K, but even that has only detail going for it, and it had to be regraded. The soundtrack's the same as the previous release, so again, no reason to actually depend on it.

That's a shame, my brother recently bought the whole lot in at trilogy set, but on the plus side, it was cheap.

However yes, the mono track is in fact real (but lossy, however that isn't an issue)

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Updated the list to show if the top choices are available anywhere.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped me correct the first list, and if I'm wrong about What is available or not, you are welcome to PM me.

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 (Edited)

For "A Fistful of Dollars" I would recommend the Italian BD over the German. They are both from the same source, but the German is slightly darker, so you can lose a little detail in the dark scenes (comparison). I'm assuming the Italian is more accurate, as the restoration happened there.

It's worth noting that in "For A Few Dollars More," the primary source of the German BD is the MGM transfer, and they look the same. This transfer is the best of the MGM transfers, but both versions share its excessive EE (comparison). The German version is still the best, of course, as it's uncut.

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@ElectricTriangle,

Actually, the German BD looks more natural, and the Italian BD, to my eyes, looks over bright.

And yes, the German FAFDM, does use the MGM master, but it doesn't use the filtering that MGM used for the BD.

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nirbateman said:

And yes, the German FAFDM, does use the MGM master, but it doesn't use the filtering that MGM used for the BD.

 I think it does, look at the comparison. It looks the same to me.

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 (Edited)

I don't think that this comparison captures the feel of it in motion.

The German BD is a lot dirtier, in a good way.

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nirbateman said:

I don't think that this comparison captures the feel of it in motion.

The German BD is a lot dirtier, in a good way.

 Oh, did they run "auto dirt remove" on the MGM? That stinks. German wins again.

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 (Edited)

Is the latest BD for OATIA really the 269min cut? As in, the real director's cut?

I ask this because I see the run-time for the BD as 251mins. Which makes me think it's missing 18mins from Leone's fabled complete 269min cut.
If it really is missing 18mins, I don't see how Warner Brothers can call this a Director's Cut when it wasn't an intended cut by the director...