Clint Eastwood Collection (Various)
Warner Home Video
To celebrate one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and accomplished talents Warner Home Video has created a dedicated box set called the "Clint Eastwood Collection" which contains six of Eastwood’s best known films. To create this package, Warner even went as far as teaming up with Columbia TriStar and Universal to license two titles that were not part of Warner’s library. The resulting box set gives fans the chance to take a look at the entire spectrum of films Eastwood has made as an actor, ranging from the romantic drama "The Beguiled" over his action thriller classic "Dirty Harry" to newer action films "In The Line Of Fire", and the comedy "Bronco Billy" all the way to the western "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and Eastwood’s most-acclaimed film "Unforgiven."
Obviously it is impossible to cover Eastwood’s entire acting and directing career in a single box set – unless someone finds a way to stack close to 100 films in a single box and make it affordable enough for people to buy – and as such these films seem to be a good selection covering a good range of films.
Unforgiven was actually one of the first discs we reviewed on this site back in November 1997. It is Eastwood’s reappraisal of his own past as the Man without name in countless spaghetti westerns. Visibly matured and serious in his observations of the glorification of the Wild West, "Unforgiven" is one of the most powerful westerns ever made, breaking the common stereotypes and myths that Eastwood helped set up himself. It is a masterfully told movie and showed that not only as an actor, but also as a director and writer, Clint Eastwood has a talent that asks to be challenged all the time.
The DVD contains the same transfer that we reviewed in our full review of the disc. However, given the rapid developments in the DVD field and the improvements in compression and transfer technologies in the past three years, the disc can no longer measure up with the greatest releases in the market. Although mostly free of distracting compression artifacts, the film shows an unwanted graininess and signs of edge-enhancement that most modern transfers know how to circumvent.
Dirty Harry, the movie that introduced Clint Eastwood as a tough-as-nails San Francisco cop to us, is the next in line. A milestone action thriller, "Dirty Harry" has helped eclipse Eastwood’s stardom as the lone rider that initially made him famous. Dirty Harry is on the hunt for a sniper who calls himself Scorpion and has begun taking down innocent people and threatens to kill more unless the city is willing to pay ransom. Deciding on his own course of action, Dirty Harry begins to track down Scorpio and is determined to put an end to this killing spree at any cost.
The transfers included on this disc are also identical to the previous release of this movie in November of 1997. The disc contains both an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> version and a <$PS,pan and scan> transfer of the film and both of them appear a bit grainy at times. Colors are good, nicely restoring the film’s somewhat desaturated look, which was typical for the 70s. The compression is generally good without distracting compression artifacts.
The 5.1 audio mix is good, although the limited frequency response of the original materials is still evident in the mix, creating a rather harsh sounding presentation.
From Columbia TriStar, Warner acquired the rights to add Wolfgang Petersen’s political action thriller In The Line Of Fire to this collection. Once again, this disc is identical to the previous release of the movie through Columbia TriStar Home Video – including the crude minimalist menu system of those early releases. It is the story of Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan who is haunted by his failure to protect the president during the JFK assassination. Still a bodyguard of the president, thirty years later he has the chance to redeem himself when another assassin has set his sights on the president. But with the chance to excel comes the past to haunt Horrigan.
The movie is presented in a <$16x9,16x9 enhanced> <$PS,widescreen> version on this DVD that is rich and highly detailed. Colors are bold and well saturated, giving the film a very warm and natural look throughout. With deep blacks and good highlights, the presentation leaves nothing to be desired. The compression is also flawless without compression artifacts of any sort.
The <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 mix> is expansive and very dynamic. It has a great bass extension and clear high ends that are free of distortion.
The Beguiled is a film that Warner has licensed from Universal for release in this Collection. The romantic love story between a Union Civil War invalid who is sheltered to cure his wounds by the headmistress of a girls’ academy in the south. As he recovers he is constantly struggling between his fear of treachery and his lustful ambitions.
This is the same version of "The Beguiled" that has been released earlier, featuring a good-looking <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer of the film. Mostly clean, the DVD reproduce the look of the film faithfully with its subdued and somber color schemes. In selected scenes slight grain is evident, but is never distracting and almost appears to be desired to underscore the authenticity of this bold picture. The compression is free of artifacts, leaving all the details in the transfer fully intact. The mono audio track, while clean and without distortion, shows signs of age, most notably through its limited frequency response. Still, the presentation has a rather natural sounding quality that is pleasing and absolutely suitable for the movie.
The Outlaw Josey Wales is the next disc in the set, and once again it is an identical re-issue of the disc we reviewed in March 1999. It is the story of a farmer who decides to become a revengeful gunslinger when his wife is raped and killed and his little son is killed by a mob of ravaging civil war soldiers. Quickly becoming public enemy number one, Josey Wales is soon pursued by a pack of killers and despite the imminent dangers, he just can’t let go of helping people in need.
The disc features a <$16x9,16x9 enhanced> <$PS,widescreen> version of the film that is clean and clear and boasts a good level of detail. With good color fidelity and deep shadows, the transfer is beautiful to behold and belies the movie’s actual age. The compression has also been done very carefully, making "The Outlaw Josey Wales" a memorable and pleasing experience. The same is true for the <$5.1,5.1 channel> audio mix found on the disc that is nicely balanced and clean.
The last disc in the collection, and the only original release of the bunch is Bronco Billy. In this movie, Eastwood is once again putting on his cowboy hat, holsters the revolvers and rides his horse, but this time he is not out for revenge or anything alike. Eastwood play Bronco Billy, the circus attraction, a sharpshooter and owner of a travelling Wild West tent show. When business isn’t too good for him, he decides to hire a young girl from a rich family who wants to escape reality, hoping to get her to pay the bills for his ragtag troupe. "Bronco Billy" is a touching and funny movie that is quite different from most films Eastwood did before and the change suits him very well.
On the DVD you will find a <$16x9,16x9 enhanced> <$PS,widescreen> version of the movie and a <$PS,fullscreen> transfer that has been realized as an <$OpenMatte,open matte> transfer. The transfer is generally clean but shows some signs of grain in selected scenes. For the most part however, the image is clean and stable with powerful colors. Especially the interior shots in the tent are beautifully rendered with strong hues and good contrast. Shadows are solid and never lose detail in this presentation that is also free of any compression artifacts. The disc also contains a <$DS,Dolby Surround> presentation of the movie’s audio track. The track is clean and nicely reproduced, creating a good atmosphere for the movie. With a natural quality, the track is always engaging, making good use of the format’s capabilities.
This is a great box set that offers something for every taste and at the same time invites viewers to explore films from Eastwood’s career that they may not be entirely familiar with. With the exception of "Bronco Billy" all films have been released on DVD before and are simply repackaged without changes as part of this box set. With that in mind, it would have been great if the collection would at least have included a segment about Clint Eastwood, such as the 1997 TV production "Eastwood on Eastwood," a superb documentary about the man, the actor, the writer, the director and the living legend. Without such a segment, the collection, while a great addition to any DVD library, almost feels like having a party without the host.