Due on Blu: The Duke and Sergio Saddle Up

A posse of Paramount Pictures westerns is being dusted off in HD in time for Father’s Day.

Two star John Wayne — Rio Lobo and Big Jake — the third is Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, and the fourth is A Man Called Horse, starring Richard Harris.

Rio Lobo and Big Jake were two of The Duke’s lesser westerns.

But the latter, which was released 40 years ago, reportedly “still looks very strong with impressive detail” and is “sometimes stunning, and never terrible”.

The Blu-ray of Rio Lobo didn’t fare quite so well with video purists: “a dated and slightly tattered HD master” that is “relatively flat and lifeless with underwhelming colour reproduction, but grain levels are satisfying and detail in close-ups is solid”.

A Man Called Horse, which came out the same year, in 1970, divided critics, with some citing its “washed out” look while others hailed its “awe-inspiring visuals” and “incredibly vibrant and vivid” image.

But everyone applauded Once Upon a Time in the West’s Blu-ray transfer for being “by far the best you’ve EVER seen this film look” and for having “some of the deepest, most rock-solid blacks we’ve ever seen, with abundant shadow detailing”.

While Paramount was praised for including all of the DVD extras from the previous special edition, critics lamented the lack of new HD extras, other than the trailer.

But the disc does come with two prints of the 1968 classic: the original, 165-minute US theatrical release and the restored 166-minute Italian cut with an extra scene.

All four Blu-rays will go on sale here for $20 each from August 3.

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