In Massimo Dallamano’s (What Have You Done to Solange?) Bandidos (1967), Enrico Maria Salerno (Savage Three) plays a former top marksman who, years after being maimed by a former protégé (Venantino Venantini, City of the Living Dead), teams up with a fresh apprentice (Terry Jenkins, Paint Your Wagon) to get his revenge against the man who betrayed him.
The third title in Arrow's Blu-ray box set Vengeance Trails: 4 Classic Westerns presents Massimo Dallamano's Bandidos on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a 2K restoration performed by L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna, and scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.
Like the other films in this set Bandidos looks perfectly fine. It's a sharp looking presentation that renders the film's heavy-yet-fine film grain incredibly, and delivers on the finer details in close-up and the longer shots of the landscapes. The image is smooth in motion and artifacts aren't of any concern.
The restoration work has also been pretty thorough, and this is one of the cleaner looking films in the set, though a few minor blemishes remain (bits of dirt and some scratches). I suspect the colours were maybe yellower in the original master supplied to Arrow, and Arrow has toned it down. It still has a warmer look, and blacks can look a little murky on occasion (and gamma can be questionable), but the colours otherwise look more natural, blues and whites still managing to come through.
So yeah, a perfectly fine looking presentation with a nice photographic look, just like the other films in the set.
(As a note, on region B players there are two instances during an opening shoot-out where the picture will go to black for a couple of seconds, due to brief animal cruelty around horses falling. On region A players the shots are intact.)
As with the other films in this set, Arrow includes both English and Italian soundtracks, each presented in single-channel DTS-HD MA. Both tracks are clean but fairly flat and lifeless, the Italian track maybe a hair more-so. Since the film was dubbed during post-production in both languages neither track is perfect in relation to lip-synching and that, so it will come down to personal preference.
Though the supplements so far in the set are fine, nothing really sticks out all that much, and that includes the three interviews found here. A lengthier 18-minute one featuring Luigi Perelli is probably the better one here, as the assistant director talks about his earlier work, how he picked up certain shooting styles for his own work, and talks a little about the film (which he finds good, just hampered by some of the performances). Actor Gino Barbacane next pops up for 11-minutes to not only talk about his bit part in this film (where he gets killed almost immediately) but also covers his parts in the two previous films in this set, Massacre Time and My Name is Pecos. Italian film historian Fabio Melelli yet again appears to talk about the film and its background. He does so for 11-minutes, but this time it feels as though he's only reiterating the story and going over some of the actors.
The strongest feature here and one of the stronger ones in the set ends up being the sort-of out-of-left-field audio commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger. Though she knows her genre films I admit I'm used to her showing up for tracks for films more along the lines of giallos or the gothic, so seeing her participating for this was a bit of a surprise. She clarifies immediately why she is there, though, and that's for the opportunity to push the film's director, Massimo Dallamano, who she considers a severely underrated genre filmmaker despite going on to doing a number of other genre films after this (none of them westerns), including the highly regarded giallo What Have You Done to Solange? And pushes him she does, using this film, Dallamano's first as a director, to showcase his talents as a genre filmmaker, pointing out the more cynical and nasty elements (though toned down) and how certain themes and ideas would show up in later films. She does also offer some background to his work as a director of photography, having worked on the first two films in Leone's Man with No Name trilogy (he was let go before The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), theorizes why he may have chosen this film as his first directorial effort, which she also bases on comments made by director Alex Cox, and explains why she feels he's gotten lost when compared to other Italian genre directors, blaming it a bit on the auteur theory, which does ignore "journeymen" directors. While the focus is clearly on Dallamano, she does have a lot to say specifically about the film, from story structure to the acting and camera work, and even offers some great details about some of the film's performers: instead of just going through an IMDB list as other tracks have done, she presents details from her own research, including what she could find about the film's mysterious co-star, Terry Jenkins, whose only other big credit was a role in Paint Your Wagon. I enjoyed C. Courtney Joyner's tracks on the other discs, but at times they felt to be going through the motions (particularly Massacre Time) but this one ends up being a surprisingly passionate one.
The disc then closes with an alternate end title sequence for the English-language version of the film: it simply presents a "The End" title card over the closing shot before going to credits playing over black instead of over the graphics used in the opening credits. There is also another German promotional gallery, featuring more posters, lobby cards, and photos, all featuring the "Bandidos" title. Author Howard Hughes then includes an essay on the film in the set's included booklet, going down a similar road as Ellinger, focusing on Dallamano and what he brought to the film from his previous experience.
As I make it through the set I find the supplements are kind of petering out, but Ellinger's commentary is one of the stand-out additions in the set.
Another fine presentation accompanied by one of the stronger audio commentaries in the set.