Like many Italian cult filmmakers, Sergio Sollima progressed from being a film critic to screenwriter and then to director. That journey helped him sharpen the spaghetti Western genre with his unique brand of righteous social fury. Run, Man, Run was his final western and a genuine highlight amongst the more well-regarded entries in the genre, and Eureka Entertainment presents the film on Blu-ray for the first time ever with a solid 1080p presentation sourced from a new 4K restoration. Add in a few supplements and both cuts of the film, and you have a Recommended release!
Tomas Milian is held in very, very high regard within Italian filmmaking history, although his penchant for overacting and boisterous performances didn’t always feel natural to each project. Milian’s collaborations with Sergio Sollima actually succeeded at harnessing Milian’s reactivity and pointing it right in the direction of Sollima’s greatest adversary: fascism. Sollima was a political filmmaker who used various genres to deliver, fast-cut, hard-hitting drama and action to back up any of the loftier ideas he presented. But to Sollima, especially in his westerns, violence destroys everyone and the submission to such violence only enables the privileged to succeed. You see it clearly in The Big Gundown and Face to Face, Sollima’s two westerns preceding Run, Man, Run. To this writer, the underrated Italian filmmaker also excelled at widescreen cinematography in ways his peers rarely could, taking genuine delight in watching these small humans amongst an unpredictable, vast landscape.
Run, Man, Run follows the travels of Cuchillo (Tomas Milian), a sly, knife-throwing Mexican criminal who first appeared in Sollima’s The Big Gundown. Cuchillo arrives home in Mexico and is soon thrown into jail, where he meets a Mexican revolutionary named Ramirez (Jose Torres) who tells Cuchillo the location of a hidden stash of gold. Once Cuchillo helps break Ramirez out of prison, the chase is on for the gold. Headed for the same stash is a sheriff-turned-bounty hunter named Cassidy (Donald O’Brien), two rival gangs of Mexicans and Cuchillo’s own angry fiancée Dolores (Chelo Alonso).
Much of Run, Man, Run focuses on the chase to the gold, flipping between the disparate groups on the hunt without creating a cohesive narrative throughline. It’s simply taken at face value that what we’re watching is a filmmaker having fun playing around with western tropes, then once the chase finishes, an epic finale that benefits from Milian’s comic energy. Where The Big Gundown made the corruptible force of violence and greed sharper than a tack, Run, Man, Run revels in the irony that those who create revolutions are often in it for the money and glory.
Milian is in traditional fashion as Cuchillo, rather boisterous and frenetic, although that personality is perfect for a film filled with so much double-crossing that it’ll throw your head into a tailspin. Watching Cuchillo navigate all of these various tense sequences makes you focus on just how sly Milian is as the character, and how Sollima is more interested in making Cuchillo discover his better, truer nature. So, when the big finale results in a revolution against a fascist, it really does feel natural. Sollima showed in Run, Man, Run that these disparate groups of people can all become united under one idea, not being dictated.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
Run, Cuchillo, Run! Tomas Milian takes to the chase on Blu-ray with a two-disc (both Region B locked BD50) release from Eureka Entertainment. The discs are in their usual clear Elite case with reversible artwork, plus a fold-out poster and 35-page essay booklet are included as well. The case comes within a limited-edition slipcover with artwork by Tony Stella. Both discs boot up to standard menu screens with all audio and video options, including special features, presented in one long list.
Despite multiple DVD releases in the past from Blue Underground and Koch Media, it has taken until now to have this Italian western gem arrive in HD. The new 1080p-AVC encoded presentation is framed in 2.35:1 and is sourced from a new 4K restoration of the original uncut version of the film, with additional color grading performed exclusively for this release.
Alright, so it probably won’t surprise you that the initial scan and restoration of the uncut version of the film was performed by L’Immagine Ritrovata. You can see this clearly in multiple scenes, as Eureka has applied their own color grade to the restoration to make everything look as natural and close to the source as possible. But because the transfer went through a few rounds of grading, some of the smaller details lack definition, like shadows and costumes. Overall, though, this is a great presentation that offers rich film grain that isn’t too thick and offers terrific contrast that reflects the soft nature of widescreen filmmaking during this era. Primaries look good and there’s little-to-no source damage to be found throughout. This is a great transfer that benefits from the Eureka team spending more time on re-doing the color grade.
The theatrical version of the film is also included and is sourced from the same restoration.
This release offers both English and Italian LCPM 2.0 tracks that are rather impressive given the nature of dubbing for Italian productions. The bombastic score from Bruno Nicolai (or Ennio Morriccone, depending on who you ask) takes the center stage in both tracks and while there’s some unevenness in the dubbing, the overall tracks are sharp and detailed given the source. I noticed some fluctuations in sound levels, although they were minimal and didn’t distract me from enjoying the film. The theatrical version comes only with an English LCPM 2.0 track that sounds just as clean as what's used on the uncut original version.
While the collection of supplements may not be the biggest here, the featurette with Stephen Thrower is a nice addition. Thrower in his usual informational style runs through many facts about the production, like how it lacked an American star and wasn’t viable for the US market because of that. The two new essays from Howard Hughes are essential reading on Zapata Westerns and the Italian western genre in general.
Disc 1: Original Uncut Version
Disc 2: Theatrical Version
Sergio Sollima returns to the Western frontier for one last bloody (and funny) gunfight in Run, Man, Run and entrusts the bloated script to Tomas Milian, who signs in the role of Cuchillo. Eureka Entertainment presents this 1968 western on Blu-ray with a decent collection of supplements and a great 1080p presentation considering the color grading work performed. This release comes Recommended!