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3 Stars out of 5
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Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Movie Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Restricted
Release Country: United States
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Clint Eastwood: The Universal Pictures 7-Movie Collection

Review Date June 22nd, 2015 by
Overview -

Cool, tough and always classic, Clint Eastwood is a true American icon whose career has spanned more than seven decades. No decade impacted his growth more as an actor, director and legend than the pivotal years he spent at Universal Pictures between 1968 and 1975 when he made seven movies that laid the foundation for his superstardom. Clint Eastwood: The Universal Pictures 7-Movie Collection includes a selection of action-packed westerns ('Two Mules for Sister Sara,' 'Joe Kidd' and 'High Plains Drifter') and edge-of-your-seat thrillers ('Coogan’s Bluff,' 'The Beguiled,' 'Play Misty For Me' and 'The Eiger Sanction') that make up this important chapter of one of Hollywood’s most unforgettable entertainers.

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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: 7 50GB Blu-rays,Region-Free
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1 and AVC MPEG-4
    Length:738
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):1.85:1 and 2.35:1
    English Descriptive Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono,English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (The Eiger Sanction),English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (High Plains Drifter),French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
    Subtitles/Captions: English SDH,Spanish (High Plains Drifter and The Beguiled)
    Special Features: Play It Again...A Look Back at 'Play Misty For Me'
    The Beguiled, Misty, Don and Clint
    Clint Eastwood Directs and Acts
    Photograph Montage
    The Evolution of a Poster
    Theatrical Trailers
    Movie Studio: Universal
    Release Date: May 5th, 2015

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

3.5 Stars out of 5

Two Mules For Sister Sara

Although hampered by its less-than-marketable title, 'Two Mules For Sister Sara' is actually one of Clint Eastwood's more enjoyable Westerns to watch, thanks primarily to some wonderful on-screen chemistry between he and co-star Shirley MacLaine.

As is the case with many Eastwood movies, he plays sort of a drifter here, who comes across a woman being assaulted by a group of cowboys. After killing the bad guys, the drifter (named Hogan) is surprised to find out that the woman (Sara) is actually a nun, and making her way across country to help support a group of Mexican revolutionaries. Naturally, Hogan is wary about joining her cause, but as the duo travels together, they begin to learn a lot about one another, turning 'Two Mules' into a rather fun buddy-action flick, with some nice touches of comedy.

(Movie Rating: 3 ½/5)

Joe Kidd

On paper, 'Joe Kidd' must have looked like it was going to be one of Eastwood's best efforts in his Western catalog. Not only is the script written by Elmore Leonard, but the movie is helmed by John Sturges, the director behind such great movies as The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Sadly, 'Joe Kidd' feels too much like another run-of-the-mill Western, even with Eastwood in the lead and Robert Duvall in a co-starring role.

Here, Eastwood plays the title character – a gun for hire who is asked by a wealthy landowner (Duvall) to take care of a notorious Mexican bandit (John Saxon) who has been leading a revolt and throwing other landowners off their properties. Kidd reluctantly agrees to help, and events in the movie eventually turn Kidd against Duvall's character, but the movie is generally one that seems to have traded deeper ideas about justice into a more audience-friendly action movie (albeit one with a runaway train for the climax).

(Movie Rating: 3/5)

High Plains Drifter

The second movie to be directed by Eastwood in his career and the first Western, 'High Plains Drifter' shows Eastwood at his best – playing a mysterious stranger who rides into the town of Lago and cleans up its evil ways. It's an idea that Eastwood would visit again in Pale Rider, and some have suggested that both characters are so similar to each other that they might be one and the same (especially if you take the more mystical/spiritual slant as two whom 'The Stranger' in 'High Plains Drifter' might be).

Regardless of the above debate, just on face value 'High Plains Drifter' is a very good Western, competently acted and wonderfully directed by Eastwood.

(Movie Rating: 4 ½/5)

For a more in-depth review of 'High Plains Drifter', check out colleague Gordon S. Miller's full review of Universal's single-disc release of the film (which is the same exact disc that is contained here).

Coogan's Bluff

Although it's rarely mentioned among Clint's best movies, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Coogan's Bluff, in which Clint plays a small town sheriff called to the big city who is kind of a mixture between his Dirty Harry character (which would come later and with the same director, Don Siegel) and the many Western heroes he's played in his career.

The sheriff's name is Walt Coogan, and he arrives in New York City as the movie opens to extradite an escaped prisoner who has made his way there from Coogan's home state of Arizona. However, the prisoner escapes, meaning Coogan must use his wits and hometown skills to bring him to justice – all while locking horns with the NYPD.

Incidentally, when 'Coogan's Bluff' was first released back on DVD, there were talks of missing scenes in the movie that had been cut. This is because the television version of the film actually had scenes added to it that people watched so often that thought they were in the original theatrical cut. So rest assured while those scenes in question once again do not appear here, this is the complete movie as it appeared in theaters back in 1968.

I'm not sure why 'Coogan's Bluff' has been more or less forgotten among Clint's more memorable characters/movies, but it's nice to finally see it on Blu-ray.

(Movie Rating: 3 ½/5)

The Beguiled

Although it gets the worst transfer on this 7-Disc collection (see our 'Sizing Up the Picture' section below), from a movie standpoint, 'The Beguiled' just might be the most interesting film in this set. Long forgotten among Eastwood's extensive catalog of titles, the film seems to have had a resurgence in popularity once Eastwood career retrospectives started popping up on both television and home video. It finally makes its Blu-ray debut here, and it's worth a look, despite the lackluster video quality.

This is one of the first movies were Eastwood plays against his usual type, portraying a Union soldier during the Civil War who gets rescued and taken in by an all-female boarding school in the deep South. While the soldier uses his charm on the women as he recovers, it leads to jealousy among them and the movie begins to turn dark…really dark, which results in one of the more unsettling endings of any Eastwood film.

Unlike the majority of Eastwood titles, 'The Beguiled' is far from a 'crowd pleaser', but it was one of the first films that showed Eastwood could be far more than just an action hero (or antihero as the case often was) in his roles. It's a really good movie that still holds up.

(Movie Rating: 4/5)

Play Misty For Me

Clint Eastwood made his directorial debut with this 1971 release, and it’s a doozy – essentially giving audiences a version of Fatal Attraction over 15 years before that popular film would hit movie screens.

Here, Clint plays a late-night radio DJ who gets involved in a romantic relationship with a woman (played by Jessica Walter) who turns out to be obsessed with him in a very unhealthy way. Like his performance in 'The Beguiled', Clint plays a much more vulnerable human being in this one and also shows off his directorial skills for the first time, delivering a taut, tightly wound thriller that still stands up today. This movie, alongside 'High Plains Drifter' and 'The Beguiled' are the best films in this 7-disc set.

(Movie Rating: 4 ½/5)

The Eiger Sanction

'The Eiger Sanction' is another one of Eastwood's directorial efforts, but it's also one of his lesser films. The story behind the movie is almost more interesting than the final product itself, as going into the shoot, Clint was quite unhappy with Universal for the way they'd been marketing his movies, particularly 'The Beguiled'. This film marks the final time Eastwood would do a movie for Universal until 2008's Changling.

As far as 'The Eiger Sanction' itself, this 1975 release arrived in theaters both during the heart of the Cold War as well as when spy movies were particularly popular, and this is one of Clint's few efforts at tackling that genre. Here, he plays a retired assassin who is called back into duty to avenge the death of another government agent. The highlights here, of course, are the big mountain climbing scenes that climax the film, which were shot on location in Switzerland (where Eastwood reportedly did most of his own stunts).

Despite the spy angle and the impressive locales, 'The Eiger Sanction' falls pretty flat from a storytelling angle, which many saw as just an attempt to knock-off the James Bond films. However, one of the more notable reasons to have this film in one's collection may be that it's the only Eastwood movie to feature a score written by the great John Williams (albeit not one of his best efforts).

(Movie Rating: 2 ½/5)

The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 'Clint Eastwood 7-Film Collection' from Universal arrives on Blu-ray in a pair of Elite keepcases, one standard size and one a bit thicker to house the Blu-rays it contains. Instead of having the movies divided up by release year first, they're instead divided up by genre, with the standard size Blu-ray case titled as a '3-Movie Western Collection' and containing 'Two Mules for Sister Sara', 'Joe Kidd', and 'High Plains Drifter'. A plastic hub holds the first two movies, while 'High Plains Drifter' is contained on the inside right. The remaining four discs in this collection are contained in a keepcase titled the '4-Movie Thriller Collection', with two plastic hubs inside, the first of which holds 'Coogan's Bluff' and 'The Beguiled', while the second hub holds 'Play Misty For Me' and 'The Eiger Sanction'.

The majority of these Universal releases contain no front-loaded trailers or even main menu screens, and jump right into the movie (with a pop-up menu available for selections). These discs include the ones for 'Two Mules For Sister Sara', 'Joe Kidd', 'High Plains Drifter', 'Coogan's Bluff', 'The Beguiled', 'Play Misty For Me', and 'The Eiger Sanction'. 'High Plains Drifter', while also not front-loaded with any trailers or advertisements, contains a more traditional Universal main menu, with a video montage of scenes from the movie, and menu selections down the left side of the screen (which, by the way, is the same way the pop-up menu appears on the other titles).

All the Blu-rays in this collection are region-free.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    7 50GB Blu-rays,Region-Free
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/VC-1 and AVC MPEG-4
    Length:738
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1 and 2.35:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono,English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (The Eiger Sanction),English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (High Plains Drifter),French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH,Spanish (High Plains Drifter and The Beguiled)
    Special Features:
    Play It Again...A Look Back at 'Play Misty For Me'
    The Beguiled, Misty, Don and Clint
    Clint Eastwood Directs and Acts
    Photograph Montage
    The Evolution of a Poster
    Theatrical Trailers
    Movie Studio: Universal
    Release Date: May 5th, 2015

Video Review

3 Stars out of 5

Two Mules For Sister Sara

'Two Mules For Sister Sara' is one of several discs in this release to have been transferred to Blu-ray using the VC-1 codec instead of the almost now universally (pardon the pun) used AVC MPEG-4 codec. In this case, the results aren't too bad, with deep saturated colors, evident grain, and an overall presentation that while far from flawless, still manages to still look very much like film. There appears to be some mild DNR use here, but not as heavy as in some of the other titles on this release. Black levels can be described as decent, although some crush creeps in during the darker scenes. Motion jitter is an occasional issue as well, but it's really only obvious in the opening and closing credits. There's also some evidence of dirt and debris on the print, but nothing major.

(Video Rating: 3/5)

Joe Kidd

The image quality of the second movie in this set, 'Joe Kidd', is quite comparable with that of 'Two Mules For Sister Sara'. Once again, Universal has transferred this film using the VC-1 codec, and once again the image has a deeply saturated, filmlike quality to it. The same issues with motion jitter and occasional crush during darker scenes is also evident here. There are some noticeable and continual problems with dirt and debris on the print, but nothing so serious as to detract from one's enjoyment of watching the movie. If I had to pick, I'd say the video quality here is slightly better than that of 'Two Mules For Sister Sara', but there's so little difference between the two, I've rated them the same.

(Video Rating: 3/5)

High Plains Drifter

The best video transfer on this set is easily 'High Plains Drifter', as this disc is the same version as the prior 2013 single-disc release in which Universal did a remaster of the movie for Blu-ray. Transferred to Blu-ray using the AVC MPEG-4 codec, the colors of the image are wonderful and bright, without creeping into over-saturation, while film grain is still present but nicely pushed to the background. There are very few instances of any dirt or debris on the print, showing what a great job Universal has done with this movie – but also making you wish they'd taken the same care with the other six titles on this release. Black levels are strong throughout, and there's no obvious technical issues with aliasing, banding, or the like.

(Video Rating: 4.5/5)

Coogan's Bluff

'Coogan's Bluff' also gets transferred using the AVC MPEG-4 codec, and while it's nowhere near as nice looking as 'High Plains Drifter', it's not all that bad, either. There's still some evident dirt and debris in a number of shots, but for the most part the image looks pretty decent, with grain evident but pushed to the background, and a nice amount of color and detail to each shot. The darker scenes do suffer slightly from some crush, but overall delineation is pretty good. Some scenes do appear a little softer than others (usually when the actors are on obvious indoor sets), but otherwise I'm pretty happy with the look of the movie.

(Video Rating: 3.5/5)

The Beguiled

By far the worse transfer in this set is that of 'The Beguiled', which looks fine as far as the colors go (the movie has always had a muted look to it), but suffers from some significant DNR scrubbing to the point where fine details have been removed and facial features have a flat look to them. In addition to the digital manipulation of the picture, there's still plenty of dirt and debris on the print. This movie deserved better from Universal.

(Video Rating: 2/5)

Play Misty For Me

'Play Misty For Me' got a special DVD release back in 2001, and sadly it appears if Universal used that same source for the Blu-ray upgrade the movie gets here. The picture is rather flat-looking and grainy, although it does appear to be mostly free of any dirt or debris. There's also evident motion jitter throughout. I also noticed some haloing and edge enhancement here, which is a sign of over-sharpening by those who did the transfer. Colors, however, are well-rendered and consistent throughout. This transfer isn't quite as bad as 'The Beguiled', but it's not a great one, either.

(Video Rating: 2.5/5)

The Eiger Sanction

At first glance, viewers may think that 'The Eiger Sanction' is one of the sharpest releases on this set. However, a closer examination of the seemingly bright and colorful picture will reveal a heavy dose of DNR scrubbing by the studio. How heavy is it? Well, to the point that virtually all the film grain has been removed from the transfer (which has been done using the AVC MPEG-4 codec). So while the image may initially appear sharp, a lot of fine detail has been removed in the process, giving many scenes a flat look to them. There is also obvious motion jitter throughout the film. With that in mind, there's also very little in terms of dirt, debris, or damage to the print.

(Video Rating: 3/5)

Audio Review

3.5 Stars out of 5

Two Mules For Sister Sara

At the risk of boring readers, I should note right now that many of the audio ratings for this 7-movie set are going to sound quite similar, as all but two titles in this release come with a featured track in English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound. If you're wondering what exactly '2.0 mono' is, it just means that the same sound is coming from the right speaker as is coming from the left, with no differences involved (as opposed to a more standard mono track, where audio just emanates from the center channel). So, with nothing going on in terms of immersiveness or directionality, the best way to judge such tracks are in terms of crispness and clarity. This one is fairly decent. While it doesn't exactly sound razor sharp, it's not muddy either, with any evident issues (like obvious post-production ADR additions for dialogue) are things that existed on the original track. In addition to the 2.0 English track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH.

(Audio Rating: 3/5)

Joe Kidd

'Joe Kidd's featured track is a English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track, which once again provides the same audio from both the front and left speakers of one's home theater. Although this is another mono track, the quality is a bit crisper and distinct here than it was with 'Two Mules For Sister Sara', with little – if any – hint of muddiness in the entire track. In addition to the 2.0 English track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH.

(Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

High Plains Drifter

In addition to being the best-looking movie in this set, 'High Plains Drifter' is also the best-sounding, as it's the only one that features an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. While this isn't exactly an immersive experience, the track does come alive during the various shootouts and explosions in the movie, while dialogue is crisp and clear without any hint of muddiness or hissing. Granted, it might have been nice for Universal to try and replicate 'Drifter's original mono sound in a second English track, but overall this is an enjoyable aural experience. In addition to the English 5.1 lossless track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.

(Audio Rating: 4/5)

Coogan's Bluff

'Coogan's Bluff' arrives with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track, which provides a clear, if unspectacular, rendering of the dialogue, musical soundtrack, and ambient sounds. There's no hissing or hints of muddiness throughout. In addition to the 2.0 English track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH.

(Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

The Beguiled

No bonus points for guessing that 'The Beguiled' gets an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track, which like most of the 2.0 tracks on this release is adequate enough and nicely mixed in with the music and background sounds. Once again, no hint of muddiness here, and the spoken word comes across crisply. In addition to the English 5.1 lossless track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.

(Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

Play Misty For Me

Although 'Play Misty For Me' features yet another English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track, this one is perhaps the most important of the bunch, since the musical background and soundtrack plays just as important of a role in the movie as the spoken word. Both sound nice and clear here, with one never drowning out the other. In addition to the English 5.1 lossless track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.

(Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

The Eiger Sanction

This time around, Universal provides listeners with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track, which does a pretty good job of separation between the front right and left speakers when needed, although there's still big chunks of the movie that are dialogue-heavy. In fact, during many scenes, viewers/listeners may not notice a whole lot of difference between this track and the 2.0 mono tracks found elsewhere. Still, everything is pretty crisp and clear, with no noticeable flaws to be heard. In addition to the 2.0 English track, French DTS Digital Surround 2.0 mono is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH.

(Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

Special Features

0.5 Stars out of 5

Two Mules For Sister Sara

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 ½ min.) – The original theatrical trailer for the movie, which is shown both full-frame and in standard definition.

Joe Kidd

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The original theatrical trailer for the movie, which is standard-def, non-anamorphic widescreen, meaning the image will appear 'window boxed' for most viewers (depending on how they have their TVs or monitors set up).

High Plains Drifter

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – Despite getting the best treatment in terms of A/V quality on this release, Universal didn't provide much in terms of extras, giving fans only this standard-definition, full-frame original trailer for the film.

Coogan's Bluff

  • Apparently, Universal doesn't have much love or respect for 'Coogan's Bluff' as they haven't even bothered slapping the original trailer onto this bare-bones release.

The Beguiled

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – Once again, the only bonus Universal offers up for viewers is a full-frame, standard definition trailer.

Play Misty For Me

  • Play It Again…A Look Back at 'Play Misty For Me' (SD, 49 ½ min.) – The good news is that Universal has finally offered up a disc in this set with some bonus materials. The bad news is that each and every one of them is ported over from the 2001 DVD release and all appear here in standard definition. This first featurette is a look back at the making of the movie, with comments from Clint Eastwood, Screenwriter Dean Riesner, and stars Jessica Walter and Donna Mills.
  • The Beguiled, Misty, Don and Clint (SD, 6 min.) – A look at the relationship between Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel, the latter of which directed Clint in 'The Beguiled' and other films. Included here are comments from Clint Eastwood and Film Historian and Critic Richard Schickel.
  • Photograph Montage (SD, 4 min.) – A slide show featuring production shots and behind-the-scenes photos from 'Play Misty For Me'.
  • Clint Eastwood Directs and Acts (SD, 2 min.) – Another slide show, this one with photos of Clint directing on the set.
  • The Evolution of a Poster (SD, 2 ½ min.) – Yet another slide show, which shows some promotional shots of the two lead actors in poses, followed by various posters that were produced to advertise the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The original theatrical trailer, shown full frame and in standard definition.

The Eiger Sanction

  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 ½ min.) – This standard definition trailer is a letterboxed version taken from a full-frame source – meaning it has a window-boxed look to it. It's also in horrible shape and barely watchable.

Final Thoughts

It was about time that Universal started releasing some of their Clint Eastwood titles onto the high-def format, and this 7-disc set includes a number of films making their Blu-ray debut. However, Universal made almost zero attempt to provide these movies with decent transfers or given fans much in terms of bonus materials. This release seems like something that was rushed to market simply to make a few bucks for the studio, and for that reason it's really only something die-hard Eastwood aficionados are going to want to bother with. For Fans Only.

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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    7 50GB Blu-rays,Region-Free
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/VC-1 and AVC MPEG-4
    Length:738
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1 and 2.35:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono,English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (The Eiger Sanction),English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (High Plains Drifter),French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH,Spanish (High Plains Drifter and The Beguiled)
    Special Features:
    Play It Again...A Look Back at 'Play Misty For Me'
    The Beguiled, Misty, Don and Clint
    Clint Eastwood Directs and Acts
    Photograph Montage
    The Evolution of a Poster
    Theatrical Trailers
    Movie Studio: Universal
    Release Date: May 5th, 2015