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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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    Joe Kidd

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 84 mins . M15+ . PAL


    When a western is written by Elmore Leonard, you know itís gonna be good. Writer of such wonderfully fun films as Jackie Brown, Get Shorty and Out of Sight, this is an earlier Leonard western that today still delivers some fabulous screen moments. Clint Eastwood is in perfect western mode during this one (shot in 1972) and heís obviously having a lot of fun with the lead role of Mr Kidd.

    It all begins with Joe Kidd waking up hungover in a jail cell. Once they drag him to court and he gets sentenced to ten days jail, Mexican bandits enter the court with a land dispute and Joe helps the judge to flee. The Mexicans, led by Louis Chama, declare a kind of war then abscond swiftly after the intrusion. Joe gets offered a spot on the posse tracking them down (as he is the best hired gun in town) but knocks it back to serve his ten days.

    A mysterious stranger then arrives and pays Kiddís fine, expecting him to help them track down the leader of the baddies. However, Kidd again knocks them back. Then Joe finds out some of his friends have had their horses stolen and lives threatened, and he decides to join the fight to catch the bandits. Naturally what follows is your usual western fare, though done with a certain panache that is a cut above average.

    "Well, the funís over and heís gone to church."

    Clint is awesome in the role of Joe Kidd, whilst Robert Duvall appears as the baddie masquerading as good by using the system to his own ends. Mr Duvall played the baddie a lot in the '70s and here he does so with his usual convincing style.

    Itís a lot of fun as westerns go, with plenty of people getting shot and falling through second storey windows and has an ending, itís safe to say, unlike any other western Iíve ever seen. Classic Clint, classic Leonard and directed by classic western director John Sturges.

    What more can be said? Classic, really.


    The monumentally huge 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement brings the glorious vistas of the High Sierras to the smaller screen in visual splendour. Some truly fabulous backgrounds are employed here to garner the feeling of isolation out in the boondocks of New Mexico. There are naturally going to be film artefacts in a film this age, but while most of these are tiny, there are occasional larger ones we canít help but see.

    Colour is nice and well balanced throughout, although there are so many variations on brown Iím not sure colour is the right word. However, everything looks even and well saturated without bleeding and is actually remarkably clear. Flesh tones are all levelled out well and the limited shadows are all well detailed within, with blacks being true.


    The classic dialogue and quick witted one liners all come across beautifully in the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track provided. Music is interesting to note here though, it suffers the fate of aging in its style. Made in 1972, the music seems to reflect that age, rather than the late 1890s portrayed in the movie. This struck me as odd, but even so it still gave the film a unique feel which wasnít entirely inappropriate. The score is well balanced however, and evenly dispersed throughout the film so there arenít any problems there.

    Finally, my old pal the stock sound effect gets itself a major gig here. With so much gunfire and explodies and trains hooting steam whistles, itís an intricate web of actual and prerecorded sounds. Still, it does sound okay and even these donít really dampen the enthusiasm of this classic western.


    Whilst having some nicely animated menus, this film sadly lacks any other form of extra feature.


    Clint Eastwood carved a name for himself in westerns, and in Joe Kidd he has placed himself in one of the all-time greats of the genre. A nice treatment and surprisingly impressive audio make this film look as good as it could be, given its age. For lovers of the western, this will no doubt already be a favourite, but for anyone interested in checking out a western to see what all the fuss is about, this is an excellent introduction. Itís big, itís western and itís Clint all the way.

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      And I quote...
    "Classic Clint Eastwood meets classic Elmore Leonard in gunfire fuelled mayhem in the old west!"
    - Jules Faber
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