16th Apr2015

‘Day of Anger’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma, Walter Rilla, Christa Linder, Yvonne Sanson, Lukas Ammann, Andrea Bosic, Ennio Balbo, José Calvo, Giorgio Gargiullo | Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, Tonino Valerii, Renzo Genta | Directed by Tonino Valerii

day-of-anger

When it comes to cult Italian movies we tend to know them for two things, horror and the Spaghetti Western.  This is probably why Arrow Video looked to the western for one of their latest releases with Day of Anger.  Starring Lee Van Cleef who had somewhat of a career comeback with the Italian westerns is it about time to take another look at this movie?

Scott Mary (Giuliano Gemma) is at the bottom of the social ladder in the perfect little town of Clifton.  Bullied and made to do the jobs like cleaning out the toilets, picking up trash and sweeping the floors he dreams of a better life.  When an ageing gunfighter Frank Talby (Lee Van Cleef) comes through town he offers Scott guidance to toughen him up, upsetting the balance of power in the small town.

Although Lee Van Cleef does pull the focus of the camera to him in the movie with his enigmatic performance, the true main character is that of Scott Mary. Giuliano’s performance of the town fool who becomes an expert gunslinger is enlightening and although not as enigmatic as Van Cleef still is endearing to the audience, pulling away from the stereotypical style of hero like the unnamed stranger made famous by Clint Eastwood and making the baby-faced innocent the hero.  He may walk the wrong path in choosing Talby as his teacher, but he never loses focus of what is morally right, which makes him a much more likable character for the audience.  We care about him, even if we see the grave he appears to be digging himself into.

Where Day of Anger succeeds is in the story which focuses much more on the character of Scott Mary rather than the action scenes.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t many action scenes, because they are and they are well put together to show the growth in Talby’s character.  What Day of Anger does is focus on the repercussions of these actions and how it changes him as a human being.  There is an ambiguity in Day of Anger though as Lee Van Cleef’s own enigmatic presence makes him at times a likable anti-hero that you would like to succeed, as long as this helped Talby.  This is of course a manipulation of the audience by Van Cleef’s character, just as he is doing with Talby.

Typically with Arrow Video the special features offer an education into the making of the film and the making of the westerns in Italy.  This is all interesting even for more casual fan that don’t know much about these movies.  As some may be aware there are two versions of Day of Anger, an Italian and American version and both are available on this disc.  The Italian version is also available in Italian or dubbed whichever fits your taste.  This makes for a fitting package for a film that deserves to be seen.

I will admit I don’t have much knowledge of the spaghetti westerns, but I did enjoy Day of Anger more than other typical westerns.  With a good picture quality that brings out the colours of the Wild West well and a flamboyant style of photography, Day of Anger is a good example of a Spaghetti Western that even though it is not directed by Sergio Leone (who is the director people see as synonymous with the genre), shows that the Italians knew how to make films about enigmatic characters in a lawless land with some added flare.  If you even have just a fleeting interest in a classic western with a much more focused edge, Day of Anger is a perfect choice, especially with the quality of the Arrow Video restoration and Blu-ray presentation.

***** 5/5

Day of Anger is out now on dual format DVD and Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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