Run, Man, Run BluRay review
Review of Eureka Entertainment's limited edition BluRay of Sergio Sollima's Run, Man, Run, released January 2023.
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Small time thief Cuchillo (Tomas Milian), a kind-hearted honest crook, becomes involved in the turmoils of revolutionary affairs during Profilio Diaz’ years of oppression, when he helps Ramirez (Jose Torres), a poet and resistance politician escape from jail, where he himself has landed only rather out of bad luck. Ramirez is killed during their escape north but confides a secret to him before he dies. During his time in exile in Burton City, Texas, he hid the gold treasure for Juarez’ resistance that was supposed to finance the revolution. Cuchillo is now supposed to bring it to Mexico. He sets off in the direction of the American border town where the gold is supposed to be. But several parties are on his heels for the gold: the American mercenary and former sheriff Nat Cassidy (Donal O’Brien) with rather dubious motives, the rebel captain Santillana (John Ireland), a gang of Mexican bandits around the unscrupulous Riza (Nello Pazzafini), two French government agents, Chuchillo's jealous girlfriend (Chelo Alonso) who’s out to domesticate the man, and a pretty Salvation Army officer (Linda Veras) whose father turns out to be none other than the mayor of Burton City. Too many for three million dollars in gold, and so a deadly chase ensues at the end of which only a few join forces to claim the gold for themselves.....
Sollima's revolutionary western Run, Man, Run is relatively light hearted and I would argue (like many before me) that it is the weakest of his three westerns. But that is not for lack of ambition, of which this movie has plenty, but probably due to lack of focus and and overburdening plot that the script is unable to hold together very well. Too many strands, too many characters and an unsatisfactory conclusion make this two hour adventure a bit hard to digest and it falls short of being as mesmerizing as The Big Gundown (an epic action adventure) or Face to Face (one of the cleverest intellectual westerns I am aware of). Where it shines is in its take on the revolution and the various ways in which different characters exploit its ideas for their own ends. While we start with Cuchillo being the witless peon, free of ideology or morals, he ends up being the only one with a true moral compass even though he gets caught up in something nominally too big for him to comprehend. What he does understand is honor and fairness. And for a change, he is the central character, too. However, while he is central, he's not the dominating protagonist in a way, but that may be the script’s fault, which forces Sollima to have him cede too much screen time and agency with the myriad of other protagonists.
This cat and mouse game involves at least five parties out for Cuchillo’s behind (or knowledge of the gold): the sheriff gone rogue, the revolutionaries (or what remains of revolutionary zeal among Santillana’s marauding bunch), a duo of French secret agents tasked by someone from within Diaz’ government, the lady from the Salvation Army and lastly Cuchillo’s wannabe wife-to-be. And they’re all chasing him for different reasons. Ultimately, Cuchillo doesn’t only need to pick a side, he also needs to reckon with the moral question of his course of action. This comes after realizing all the other stakeholders motives – the real ones. In a way Cuchillo stands for the average peon who is but a pawn in the bigger chess game of the revolution, which is always fought in his name, but for different ends. A very interesting film in this regard. Run, Man, Run may be a so-so sequel to Sollima's earlier western at face value but actually has a lot to offer once you peel back some of the layers.
In terms of craftmanship it’s an excellent film. Sergio Sollima co-scripted this film himself, but this may be just the flawed bit. Excellent once more are the camerawork by Guglielmo Mancori (Man from Nowhere, His Name was King, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man), the music by Bruno Nicolai (albeit with various degrees of uncredited help from his mentor Ennio Morricone, depending on which literature you’re reading or interview you’re aware of, and not quite as memorable for the most part compared to other compositions) and the editing by Tatiana Casini Morigi (who was already almost 20 years into her career and also edited Any Gun Can Play and Boot Hill).
It’s a well made, great-looking and fairly expensive film that covers a lot of ground (from the dusty deserts of Almeria to the snow covered highlands of Italy) and boasts an impressive cast. This cast has been described as lacking a star of international stature that prevented the movie from having the international distribution and success it should have deserved. Milian was a giant in Europe, but not beyond. Guest star John Ireland is relegated to a cameo role and can’t quite work his name either. He is employed better in other spaghetti westerns such as the criminally underrated Gatling Gun. Linda Veras (also in Face to Face, Sabata, Contempt, Chapaqua’s Gold, God made them, I kill them and Rosselini’s General Della Rovere) is nothing but eye candy combined with some comic relief, a role that could’ve honestly been struck from the script as it serves no purpose other than to highlight Cuchillo’s relationship with faith and to underline the church’s own hypocrisies. Donald O’Brien here gets a top billing for once, but he’s a spaghetti western staple. It is nice to see him have that kind of role but then again, as with the other roles in this film, he isn’t left with much to work with. That leaves Milian, who one-ups his performance in The Big Gundown and even sings the title song over the pre-credits sequence. It was one of the roles of his lifetime, and in a way it’s a shame the movie has let him down that way. Run, Man, Run is an excellent spaghetti western, one of the best, but it’s not nearly as good as it should have been.
Eureka Entertainment brings this long-awaited classic to the world of HD in its Masters of Cinema series and this is a most welcome release. This movie was a holdout, unavailable on BluRay for such a long time, and it seems there was finally 4K scans done from available material in Italy to make such a release now possible (rumor has it another one is planned in Germany for later this year). Eureka also beat Indicator/Powerhouse to the punch whose The Big Gundown UK BluRay release (also much awaited, see The Big Gundown BluRay review) has been delayed by a few weeks it seems. The SWDb recommends fans to definitely get both, but let’s get into the details.
The picture quality is a relief, especially if all you know are the DVDs that are almost 15 years old by now. This new transfer offers rich blacks and vibrant colors, nice texture and nice details - even though it’s not always quite as super crisply resolved as I hoped from a 4K scan (especially in backgrounds and long/distance shots, where things get a bit fuzzy or edge enhancement gets to working). In parts, the picture is far too bright (white adobe rooftops etc.) but this is complaining on a very high level. All in all this looks quite fantastic despite what edge enhancement and digital touch-up had to perform on the original material that was surely not in best shape, else we would’ve seen such a release years ago. I remember the old DVDs, they looked fine but this is quite the quantum leap and finally a worthy home video release of this classic. The film look really comes out, the close ups are vivid and the wide angles convey quite the canvas.
The audio sounds quite convincing, too. I watched it in Italian for this review, and that track has some really nice depths and sounds very solid. The English track doesn’t sound quite as rich but is also nothing to complain about. There are newly translated English subtitles and they are very good.
There are a number of extras accompanying this release (once its limited run is over, you may have to say goodbye to those on disc two). To kick things off, there’s Stephen Thrower on Run, Man, Run, an 18-Minute video intro to the movie by the British film historian and author. That’s a very nice overview of all things Sollima, Milian and Chuchillo.
Centerpiece of this edition is the new audio commentary by authors Barry Forshaw (“Italian Cinema: Arthouse to Exploitation”) and Kim Newman (“Wild West Movies”). These two also did an audio commentary on Eureka's release of Revolver, Sollima’s intense crime drama starring Oliver Reed. This commentary is entertaining from the start, full of interesting insights and covers tons of ground. I recommend watching this last as I found it to be pleasantly analytical which will be of most value after you’ve devoured all the rest of the extras including the booklet (more on that further down). Then there’s the alternate Opening Credits (these are the English language ones, while the print of the film shown are the original Italian ones). The trailer included here is in so-so quality and it is the English language one, however a trailer with barely any dialogue. There are unfortunately no other, international, trailers included.
Now, on the bonus disc (which according to the product description may get scratched for possible re-issue run of this film) the biggest “extra” is of course the drastically shortened US/UK version (for some reason described as theatrical even though the booklet is not the only source that mentions this never had a theatrical release there) that clocks at exactly 84:03 on here (with restored English audio, not sure if I mentioned this but Milian and quite a few others spoke English for the purpose of the shoot and Milian for example dubbed himself). It’s presented just as well from a 4K scan restoration. From what I can tell, it looks fairly identical.
There’s another audio commentary here (bit of a shame it couldn’t also be put on top of the uncut version) with Howard Hughes (SWDb readers should be familiar with some of his work, e.g. “Once Upon a Time in the Italian West”) and Richard Knew, that I found to be often more scene specific than the other commentary, however just as in depth, with Howard leading the trivia here. It is quite a valuable addition to the rest of the extras and fans should definitely ensure they get this limited edition for this track alone.
There’s an extra not carried over from the Blue Underground DVD, and that’s “Run Man Run: 35 Years Running” which was an interview featurette with Milian and Sollima, but it may well be that these have found their way into other featurettes in different shape. The French DVD also had an interview with Sollima and the old German DVD also had some alternate credits sequences while the Italian DVD had a featurette called "Venti di coltelli" interview with Donald O'Brien. Maybe Plaion Pictures will do one better when they will release it this year (that’s what the rumor mill says). It would be (or would have been) nice to have something of an ultimate edition, but as the SWDb’s current effort of cataloguing interview featurettes shows, it’ll always be a bit of a treasure hunt for fans to track down all the editions for a full coverage of interviews. By the way, as far as I know there are currently no plans for any USA releases of this film with the licensing situation so confusing around these titles, so don’t get your hopes up and invest in a multi region Bluray player!
There’s also a 36 page booklet, with two excellent texts by Howard Hughes. The first is on the film, Sollima’s work and Milian’s role in particular, the second is on the sub genre of the Zapata Westerns. Tony Stella’s beautiful artwork graces the limited slipcase and reversible sleeve of this edition which is numbered at 3000 copies and I expect it to go fast.
All in all, this is a fantastic release. Worthy of the movie, and worth the long wait. If there’s anything to criticize then maybe that it doesn’t gather quite all the possible extras that may be out there, but with two audio commentaries, a video intro and a lengthy booklet, this is an excellent package. It’s not Sollima’s greatest movie, but you will be able see the genius project in there if you dare to look close. And for looking closer, this is just the fix we needed.
- Buy now: From Amazon.co.uk | From Amazon.fr | From Amazon.de | From Amazon.es | From Amazon.it
- See also: The Big Gundown BluRay review
Written by Seb, published January 9, 2023. Advance press copies of the release were made available to us. The pictures used in this article are not indicative of the picture quality on these discs.