Hannie Caulder DVD review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

Hannie-caulder.jpg
  • Review of the British Anchor Bay edition of Hannie Caulder
  • The relevant section of this review has been updated with remarks about the new (English-friendly) German DVD

The Movie

Three dirty, violent and clumsy bandits (Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam and Strother Martin) escape from the Mexican Army after a bank job gone terribly wrong. Chased by the soldiers, they stop at a pony express station to steal new horses. They shoot Mr Caulder, the tender, and take turns raping his wife Hannie (Raquel Welch) and then burn the place down and leave. Hannie, devastated, her life in ruins, her loved one shot in the back and her body soiled, runs away to seek revenge. She tries to convince a roaming bounty hunter (Robert Culp) to teach her in his art, which he does after some reluctance. He takes her down to Mexico to meet his friend, a gunsmith (Christopher Lee). He teaches her to shoot a revolver, and the two develop feelings towards each other. They then set out, the bounty hunter hoping the beautiful woman would forget the past, but when he sees the three thugs in a town right after she showed him the door, he suffers a knife wound and dies. Hannie, determined to end it, confronts the rapists...

Hanni Caulder looks very promising. A decent director, some famous actors, even in the little roles, and one of the hottest women that ever walked this planet. All that in a revenge western. So my expectations were rather high. But they were met for the most part. The movie is very violent, entertaining and original. While the film does not reveal as much of Ms Welch as the posters might suggest, she does a great job as Hannie. A bit like a female version of Clint Eastwood, with the hat, the poncho and the grim look on her face. What is especially delightful are the little cameos by Sambrell and especially Christopher Lee. The story is straightforward and very simplistic but serves its job well and the film does have some bits of suspense even. The gunfights are very nice, although they remind me a bit of The Wild Bunch. All in all, this is a very good film, very entertaining and satisfying. Too bad the DVD isn't....

The DVD

Anchor Bay, while I think it's great they released this at all, did a horrible job with this. This DVD is nothing but a decent VHS-to-DVD transfer. They did not even bother to take the entire widescreen french print, they just took the opening and closing credits, but left the rest of the film in the cropped version with the low quality picture and audio. The menu offers nothing but a "play movie" button, no trailer, no chapter menu. The picture is really faded, changes colors, has edge halos in green or blue, and lots and lots of dirt. A very bad picture, there's nothing more to say. Hold on, it is acceptable, I have to say so much. For three pounds, this is okay value for your money, but in general, it is a shame someone would release this on DVD so many years after the format was invented. It is similar with the audio. English is the only language option, and the sound is very bad to the most part. This movie deserves a good widescreen print with a standard restoration job and a cleaned-up audio track.

  • non-anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen, PAL
  • English audio, no subtitles
  • The image is cropped during the film (the opening and closing titles are 2.35:1, they are from the french master)

UPDATE

E-M-S has now released a new version of this movie in Germany. To sum it up, there is absolutely no reason anymore to buy the UK disc, as the new German disc is superior in all aspects. It offers the correct widescreen aspect ratio (as opposed to a slightly cropped version here) and boasts a beautiful anamorphic transfer. It is completely English friendly as it offers not only a good-sounding English audio track but also English extras. As described in the original (German) review of the disc, it is a flawless presentation of the film on DVD, with a totally reasonable price of just about 10 Euros. Readers are advised to import where possible.

Verdict

Hannie Caulder positively surprised me. A great female revenge flick, with violent gunfights, a gritty story, several great actors and, well.... Raquel Welch. The movie makes the most out of its simplicity and manages to entertain a great deal. While not really a Spaghetti Western, it gets as close to one as possible. Too bad the DVD by Anchor Bay is quite a shame. The picture is cropped (save the credits) and of VHS quality, and the audio isn't much better. Granted, for only a fistful of pennies, this DVD might very well end up in your shelf, but I had expected a bit more from Anchor Bay. The Verdict? Well, for that price, feel free to get it, but you might as well catch this on TV somewhere and wait for a hopefully better DVD at some point.

--Sebastian 00:31, 9 March 2008 (CET)

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