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My Name Is Nobody Blu-ray Review

My Name Is Nobody (1974) U.S. movie poster My Name Is Nobody (Il mio nome Nessuno)

US Theatrical Release: July 17, 1974 / Running Time: 116 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Tonino Valerii / Writers: Sergio Leone (idea); Fulvio Morsella (story); Ernesto Gastaldi (story & screenplay)

Cast: Terence Hill (Nobody), Henry Fonda (Jack Beauregard), Jean Martin (Sullivan), Piero Lulli (Sheriff), Mario Brega (Pedro), Mark Mazza (Don John), Benito Stefanelli (Porteley), Alexander Allerson (Rex), Remus Peets (Big Gun), Antoine Saint John (Scape), Franco Angrisano (Ferroviere), Tommy Polgar (Juan), Antonio Palombi, Hubert Mittendorf (Carnival Barker), Emil Feist (Dwarf) / Uncredited: R.G. Armstrong (Honest John), Karl Braun (Jim), Leo Gordon (Red), Steve Kanaly (False Barber), Geoffrey Lewis (Wild Bunch Leader), Neil Summers (Squirrel)

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In the 1960s, three stylistically similar and narratively unrelated Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns put the name of their Italian writer and director Sergio Leone on the world's cinema map. The commercial success of the films that culminated with The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (referred to as both the Dollars and The Man with No Name Trilogies) meant more money and clout for Leone's subsequent efforts
in the genre, which included the epic Once Upon a Time in the West and Duck, You Sucker.

One of Leone's final forays into the Wild West was My Name Is Nobody (Il mio nome Nessuno in Italy), an international 1973 production that credits him with its idea and as presenter (i.e. executive producer). The perfectionist filmmaker is also believed to have directed a few scenes for Tonino Valerii.

The film opens in 1899. Renowned gunslinger Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) is ready to hang up his holster. Formidable but aging, Beauregard intends to board a New Orleans ship leaving for Europe in a few weeks. A telegram informs him all he needs is the $500 deposit to reserve his seat. He'll also have to stay alive, a task that requires the fast reflexes he uses to thwart a would-be throat-slicing shave.

Nobody (Terence Hill) wows a saloon with his ability to drink and shoot in "My Name Is Nobody."

Beauregard is given a delivery by a blue-eyed, blonde-haired cowboy calling himself Nobody (Terence Hill). Beauregard is Nobody's idol, a fact made clear as the young gun rattles off in details his feats from nearly twenty years ago like a zealous kid who has memorized the stats on the back of a baseball card. Nobody might even be a quicker draw than his hero, as he catches flies and fish with his bare hands and, with the assistance of sped-up film, can draw three times before another even gets his hand on his pistol.

My Name Is Nobody is more comedic and less violent than Leone-directed westerns. It's a playful film, the kind that reads the name "Sam Peckinpah" off a headstone and attaches sound effects to punctuate certain slapsticky actions. Its longest scenes seem to be Nobody's participation in a saloon drinking/glass-shooting game, a sequence in which foes take aim at fun house mirrors, and a bizarre, interminable urinal showdown. Nobody is a charming antihero, one who steals an apple from a baby and stands up to a dwarf on stilts.

Despite the comedic tone, there is a plot that's not played for laughs. It involves The Wild Bunch, a band of 150 men who make their money in some kind of sketchy ore refinery racket involving an unscrupulous man named Sullivan (Jean Martin). Nobody is disappointed that the death of Beauregard's brother isn't enough to drive the old sharpshooter to more of his old heroics. But the kid gets his wish when the weary legend with failing eyes agrees to take on all 150 armed gunmen in the desert, certain to make the history books.

Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) aims for the history books by pitting his rifle against the oncoming Wild Bunch of 150 men.

Leone's influence on the film is evident, from the opening scene of three conspirators arriving that relies on silence and lays in Ennio Morricone score like another layer of sound effects.
The deliberate, methodical set-ups make for a fast viewing but even when the film moves away from traditional Leone compositions for sped-up bits and other silly action, it remains energetic and watchable. It helps that Leone's most important collaborator Morricone is there to play all the right notes in a whimsical score that incorporates Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries as well as traces of Morricone's past creations.

Leone is believed to have only directed the more dramatic scenes, like the opening and the big climax, in addition to second unit material. Valerii never really went on to anything bigger, remaining in Italy, where he last worked in 1997. Their novelty to audiences and allure to himself seemingly wearing off, Leone only really made one more western, the 1975 semi-sequel A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot, which saw Hill reprising one of his best-known roles. Beyond that, the spaghetti western faded and Leone's last movie would be the 1984 gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America.

Though originally promoted as a Leone film, to his and Valerii's chagrin, My Name Is Nobody has come to be separated from the maestro's small but revered directorial canon. Whereas the Eastwood trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West are treated to restorations and abundant bonus features from MGM/Fox and Paramount, My Name, a 1974 Universal Pictures release theatrically, hit Blu-ray today with a moniker but little fanfare from Image Entertainment.

My Name Is Nobody Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Still available on DVD ($19.99 SRP; April 26, 2005)
and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The rear cover's claim "In Pristine High Definition!" raises expectations that this lesser Leone production will be treated to the type of breathtaking restorations his most celebrated films have gotten. Image uses the word "pristine" loosely, though, because My Name Is Nobody is far from unspoiled and spotless. This 2.35:1 transfer is plagued by wear and tear from the start. Small white specks and scratches appear on a regular basis. Some shots are burdened with even more intrusions; imperfections spanning the entire width of the picture for a few frames and others with a series of faint vertical lines running down them. Meanwhile, the colors are slightly faded throughout.

From a train providing protection, Nobody (Terence Hill) looks on and keeps score of his idol Beauregard's grand finale heroics.

It's entirely clear that the movie has not been subjected to the same meticulous treatment as Leone's older directorial efforts. That's somewhat understandable, because the greater popularity of those movies undoubtedly afford them a bigger budget than what Image could allocate this release.
Still, it's surprising to encounter a Blu-ray in this state, let alone one billing itself as "pristine." Image only gave this film one DVD back in 2005, so though this transfer leaves room for improvement, it's unrealistic to expect a better edition of a mid-level catalog title on a format that's not selling nearly as well as DVD in its prime.

My Name doesn't get a 5.1-channel remix, either, having to settle for 2.0 monaural DTS-HD master audio English track. It's sufficient, though it bears mentioning for the uninitiated that this film shows its Italian roots by clearly having most, if not all, of its dialogue looped in post-production and without the greatest of precision. The cast's non-native English speakers (a class that clearly includes Hill, born Mario Girotti) are the most common sources of non-synchronicity, but even Fonda's words at times don't match his mouth movements. The opening and closing credits remain in Italian too and untranslated, though English SDH subtitles are thankfully provided for the film's dialogue.

Nobody and Beauregard's hat shooting and trash talk briefly plays above the Wild Bunch's approach on the My Name Is Nobody Blu-ray menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Though Image Entertainment's Blu-ray release is declared a 40th Anniversary Edition, don't expect that milestone to imply the presence of bonus features. The reason the rear cover doesn't mention any extras is because there aren't any.
Now, My Name Is Nobody never received any bonus features on Image's DVD, either, so the void is no huge surprise this time around. Still, it's disappointing that not even the film's original trailer could be rustled up.

Adding to that disappointment is the fact that Germany got a 2-disc Special Collector's Edition DVD in 2005 with documentaries, promo reel, galleries, and a press book reproduction.

The scored menu plays screen-filling clips over the bottom strip of the cover art. The disc doesn't support bookmarks, but it does resume playback like a DVD.

The side-snapped keepcase isn't jazzed up by a slipcover, an insert or reverse side artwork. The Region A disc, however, sports a full-color label.

After what you could call a close shave, Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) checks himself out in a mirror shot by a bullet intended for him.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

My Name Is Nobody is lighter-hearted and less magnificent than the earlier spaghetti westerns that Sergio Leone personally wrote and directed, but it's still a fun time with plenty of cinematic appeal. This good movie gets a not so good Blu-ray with an underwhelming feature presentation and absolutely no extras. I assume it's better than the film's similarly barren eight-year-old DVD, but still worse than it should be, mid-century Italian production methods be darned. While this disc is tough to recommend without steep discounting, the film it holds warrants a viewing once you've seen Leone's more significant and dramatic works.

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Reviewed November 5, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1973 International Classic Films, LLC, Rafran and 2013 Image Entertainment, RLJ Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.