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Get Mean BluRay review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

Review of the GET MEAN BluRay released by Blue Underground. Tony Anthony stars as The Stranger, fighting Barbarians in Spain to recover the Gipsy Princess Maria and her treasure so she could lead the Moors to reconquer Burgos. An oddball spaghetti western that has been meticulously restored, on a home video release that is chock full of great extras.

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1975 / Director: Ferdinando Baldi / Starring: Tony Anthony, Lloyd Battista, Raf Baldassarre, Diana Lorys / Music: Fabio Frizzi, Vincenzo Tempera and Franco Bixio / Producers: Tony Anthony, Ronald Schneider


Get Mean: Movie

Somewhere in the Wild West, the Stranger (Tony Anthony) is dragged through the dirt by a renegade horse, on a rope and eventually into a dusty old town. The local seem to be gypsies hiding from ruthless Barbarians that are after Maria (Diana Lorys), supposedly a princess with a rightful claim to the Burgos region of Spain. They want to hire The Stranger to bring her to Spain so she can reclaim the lands overrun by Barbarians. Initially hesitant, he takes off across the ocean (and possibly even through time) to arrive in Spain, where the Barbarians are fighting against the Moors, who the princess wants to lead into battle to drive the Barbarians out. A skirmish sees the Moors defeated, Maria captured and the Stranger hung upside down and shot with a cannon. He is freed by gypsies lead by Marella (Mirta Miller), so she take take the fight to the Barbarians. His main problem is to get paid, but they say they cannot pay until he helps the Moors recover the “Treasure of Rodrigo”. So he sets out to confront the Barbarians at their Fortress of Rodrigo in order to free the princess. Only she can claim the treasure for her people and take the throne. Being the trickster that he is, the Stranger enters a shady deal with the Barbarians, led by Diego (Raf Baldassarre), so they can all travel to the temple of the Sufis. He needs to confront the Trials of Death, recover the treasure for Maria and then fight the Barbarians, who do not keep their word…..

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There’s no way discussing Get Mean without getting one thing out of the way first: yes it’s campy. Having said that, there’s a second thing that is important to emphasize: it’s not really a western. What Baldi and Anthony have cooked up here is a rather oddball film, that is highly interesting trash cult, and I mean that in the best possible way. Out of the hundreds of spaghetti westerns made over the few years the genre dominated the Italian film industry, really only a handful are actually excellent motion pictures. Then there’s a huge bunch of mostly average mass production and another handful godawful ones. Strewn among all three categories are genre oddities and unicorns. I would say Get Mean is one such unicorn, a movie that could’ve only been made when and how it was made. Try making a western today that’s not a western but a historically inaccurate time travel cloak and dagger action flick and you’ll be in coo-coo territory, or tossed in with the loony bunches of Will Smith’s Wild Wild West maybe. Okay I am getting slightly off topic here.

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Get Mean is an excellent illustration of the ingenuity, persistence and inventiveness of the 70s filmmakers that we so love. Borne out of the financial success of its predecessors, this third installment in the lose Stranger trilogy takes everything up a notch: the fights, the characters and the excellent one-liners. Tony Anthony has by now almost perfected the character, who is purposely more average than the actually almost intellectual stranger embodied by Clint Eastwood. Anthony’s Stranger doesn’t outwit his opponents, he “outmeans” them. Hence the title. In a genre that turned the hero figure upside down, there were still surprisingly little heroes who managed to “get mean” and also be popular. Audiences loved antiheroes, but they still preferred heroes over baddies. Anthony’s stranger however shoots people in the back, does everything for money (mostly) and just wants to get stuff done. No secret code, no deeper morals, no high brow monologues, shoot first and ask questions later, but be cool doing it. It’s this laudable type of cult figure that has established Anthony as one of the more prolific characters of the genre.

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Baldi has made a number of decent spaghetti westerns, which for a reason I can’t really think of seem mostly realistic without much effort. Call up castles, Barbarians and Moors however, and suddenly the low budget Italian film machine starts looking mighty ridiculous. No big deal however, as the audience knows where to expect an entertainment picture and where to expect a proper period piece. The story isn’t all that great but has a hint of Indiana Jones in there for good measure. It’s a well-executed plot that takes the Stranger from western towns to Spanish deserts (there’s irony in the movie of course) to medieval castles to mysterious caverns and bandit holdouts. He shoots and blasts his way through hordes of enemies, cuts deals with villains and yet is there to save the lady princess. Almost to make a point, it’s the villains that seem to be the educated, Shakespeare-spouting folks, while the heroes here are gypsies and brutes. It’s the contemporary cinema world upside down, it’s an anti-Sollima piece. And it’s tons of fun, too.

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The posters boasted of a hero hung upside down, shot with a cannon, roasted over fire and more. A hero who has had it and is out to get even Steven. The real Get Mean is a much more layered picture, and it’s that fact that makes it still relevant today. It’s a multi-faceted adventure picture with plenty of ambition, humor, action and drama, with a pinch of irony for salt and camp for pepper. It won’t convince genre newcomers and it won’t excite you enough to watch it without maybe pausing it to grab some more of your dinner, it’s intensity just hasn’t aged well, but for the fans and scholars out there, aficionados like you and me, this is one of the greatest joys of being students of this genre: experiencing the multitude it has to offer, the ability to watch a movie like this, a marvel it even exists.

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Get Mean: The BluRay presentation

For a movie that seemed lost for a long time, it’s remarkable to see the result put out by Blue Underground. Anthony, Schneider and Battista have gone to great lengths bringing back a memorable entry in their professional careers, and you can see and feel the heart that was put into this release. There were a few re-release screenings to commemorate this release, and all objectivity aside, I am always enormously happy to see another great spaghetti western see released in such a great way. Get Mean arrives in a limited 2-disc set that also includes a DVD along with the preferred BluRay. More about the features and extras a bit further down.


Audio options: You can watch the movie in DTS-HD mono English, or with audio commentary with Tony Anthony, Lloyd Battista and Ron Schneider. There are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles on the disc. It’s a bit of a shame though that there are no Italian subtitles for our Italian friends, considering it’s a spaghetti western. The movie sounds great, there’s hardly anything to complain about, at least my ears couldn’t make up any annoyances, damages, crackling, hissing or anything of the sort. They have done a remarkable job restoring the original audio track, they’ve refrained from upmixing it needlessly and the track offers sufficient dynamism fit for an adventure pictures. Yes it’s ways off the quality you see on some better preserved or more extensively restored titles, but this is almost as good as it gets. More audio options might’ve been nice, but considering the audience for this title, it might be sufficient. I sure do hope that maybe other companies in different markets will decide to release the film and license Blue Underground’s material for it. The discs are however region free, so feel free to import even if you live outside the North-American DVD/BuRay region.

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Menu. I like the mix of movie scenes and animations in the main menu. It might be a bit much, but it prepares the mood nicely. What I’ve seen for the first time actually are sound effects upon navigating the menu structure. Nice touch, but luckily nothing overly fanciful.


Transfer: I haven’t followed the restoration process of the movie but plan to learn some about it during watching the special features. They must have unearthed a remarkably well preserved print for this transfer, as it absolutely looks great. The contrast levels are amazing, and so are the colors (aside from the black levels in dark scenes however) and sharpness. The transfer is relatively free of annoying edge enhancement or compression artifacts, it preserves the film grain and yet is mostly free of dust and other damages. There are a few rips in there you can see, and some rapid camera turns reveal stair effects, this might’ve been sloppy encoding however. A really trivial glitch overall, as the movie almost looks like it was shot 4, not 40 years ago. If you at all can, do experience this on BluRay. Without getting into this tedious argument, BluRay actually gets you very close to 35mm film, and with well restored material like this is obviously light-years better than a low-res DVD presentation. Kudos to the producers at Blue Underground, if only every old movie looks as great as Get Mean.

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Get Mean: The Extras

The theatrical trailer is presented in great quality. It’s always been tons of fun and it still is. The grind house camp factor, the music and the premise, it must have sent tons of laughter through theaters in the old days. The French trailer which is also included, and from what I can tell is identical aside from a few small difference, but with French dubbing, voic-eover and titles. I am not sure if this was made for France or Canada.


Four radio spots at 30 seconds each. They all feature the great voice-over, rocking music, lots of excitement and... apparently it was rated PG.


The deleted scenes run for about 8 minutes and are all in bad VHS quality. They're four scenes, among them a torture moment, some backstory on Sombra and a scene where the Stranger gets his ass whopped for some chauvinist remarks.

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Almost as another extra, there’s a DVD in there as well. It includes the same things, just not in HD. Now there’s considerable debate as to why BluRay/DVD combo editions are made, in terms of economic and marketing factors. Criterion have been doing it for a while and then stopped it, Arrow Films is currently doing it. I always thought of it this way: A real fan will buy this not having a BluRay player and then be happy to have the BluRay once he or she finally upgraded. There’s really no reason in the world not to upgrade, considering the investment isn’t that huge and the gain in quality is enormous. So I did not test the DVD, just to make that clear, but considering it’s the same remastered source material it will please those owning only DVD equipment equally I am certain.


The Booklet amounts to 20 pages with illustrations, featuring a comprehensive text by Howard Hughes - author of well received spaghetti western books - on the genesis of the Stranger movies. He goes through all Stranger movies, their stories, the making-of, impact and how they build up on each other, touching a bit on Blindman and Comin’ At Ya!. There’s also a short overview of the locations used in Get Mean. Overall a nice addition by a highly recommended spaghetti western author.


Poster and still gallery. A lot of design drafts also, as well as leaflets, lobby cards, stickers and stills, in black and white as well as color pictures. Some of these are actual colored film negatives, and there are also VHS covers and excerpts from the script.

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Featurettes

  • The Story of the Stranger. Interview with Tony Anthony. This runs about 23mins and is about Tony opening up about how he got into the industry and how Get Mean happened and then not really, for the first time. It's a great insight into the business and the work of Anthony. Highly recommended.
  • Looking for Richard. Interview with Lloyd Battista. This runs about 12mins and is about Lloyd explaining how him and Anthony go way back and where the ideas for the characters came from and how it was making the movie(s). Interesting insight, and very enthusiastic memories.
  • Beating a dead horse. Interview with Ron Schneider. This runs about 10mins and is about Ronald remembering how he got into the business and their experiences making Get Mean, coming up with money, and so on. Great insight and a different perspective altogether but also fond memories. This bit also explains the alternative title for the film, so you gotta see this :)
  • Tony and I. Interview with Ferdinando Baldi. This runs about 8mins and is about the late spaghetti western veteran talking also about the 3D efforts Anthony mounted.


The audio commentary with Anthony, Battista, X and Y is a nice conversation among the filmmakers about the background of the making of the film, its genesis and who played which roles in the production. The commentary was recorded the day after the restored version of Get Mean premiered at the Cinefamily theater in Hollywood. You can tell how deeply involved these folks were and as a fan you can appreciate the stories they tell and what it meant for them, not just Get Mean, but being involved in the genre in general. It's not the most entertaining and funny commentary, but it's a comfortable, insightful two hours you can spend with the people behind this cult classic.

Conclusion

Get Mean is an oddity, and an example of the creativity and ingenuity of filmmaking in the late 70s. It's backstory is a lot more interesting than the movie itself, which is campy and weird to say the least. It is absolutely great to see this film get this kind of presentation. The BluRay looks and sounds amazing, and has a set of extras that I'd wish for every spaghetti western out there. It will help both fans and newcomers dig deeper into the Stranger mythology. Get Mean on BluRay is one of the best things to be happening to fans this year.

--Sebastian Haselbeck (talk) 11:46, 5 November 2015 (UTC)


This BluRay was provided by Blue Underground.

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