Review for Run, Man, Run
Sergio Sollima was a director who did things in threes, three crime thrillers, and three spaghetti westerns. Alas, Eureka Entertainment aren’t doing things that way. They’ve only released one of the crime thrillers, Revolver, which I reviewed last year and found to be really quite impressive. It was that experience that prompted me to request Run, Man, Run for review, not just my affinity for spaghetti westerns, although once again to date, this is the only Sollima spaghetti western on Eureka’s release slate. It’s all the more niggling as Run, Man, Run is a sequel to Sollima’s earlier spaghetti western, The Big Gundown, which also features the ‘Cuchillo’ character.
However Eureka Entertainment are releasing Run, Man, Run as a Limited Edition of 3000 copies which come with a bonus disc and physical extras.
You’d think that being pardoned by Mexico’s president would be cause enough for celebration, but for radical poet Ramirez, that just adds to his burdens. There are a lot of people waiting for his release, enough that he offers his cellmate $100 to help him escape prison, and get across the border to the Texas town of Burton City. For Manuel ‘Cuchillo’ Sanchez, so named for his skill with the blade, he has reason enough to help Ramirez when he has a fiancée intent on marrying him by any means. The promise of $3 million in gold is no small added incentive though. But everyone wants that gold... I mean everyone...
Run, Man, Run gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, with the choice between PCM 2.0 Mono English and Italian, with hard of hearing subtitles, translated subtitles for the Italian audio, and a caption and partial translation (for moments of Spanish) track for the English dub. Eureka have sourced a 4k restoration for the release, and Run, Man, Run certainly looks the part, clear and sharp, with rich and consistent colours, and certainly not looking its 50 plus years. The film could have been released yesterday, free of print damage, signs of age, and stable throughout, making the most of its sets and locations. There is also a nice level of organic film grain. The audio too seems to have been restored, according to the menu listing. Certainly I had no issues with harshness, glitches or the like, with the dialogue clear throughout, and the action coming across well. Apparently this film was scored by Ennio Morricone, but issues meant that his name wasn’t in the credits. There is also some choice dialogue as you would expect from this genre.
The first run release of 3000 will come with limited edition packaging, and a 36-page booklet on the film with writing from Howard Hughes, as well as stills and production imagery.
The discs present their content with static menus, with everything listed on one page.
The Feature Disc
Here you will find an audio commentary from Barry Forshaw & Kim Newman
Stephen Thrower on Run, Man, Run (18:42)
Alternate Opening Credits (3:07)
The Bonus Disc
Here you’ll find the Theatrical Version (84:03) of the film, as was released to most English speaking markets (although ironically, not too often in cinemas). This has a whopping 35 minutes cut out of the film. It’s presented with the same 4k restoration, at 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p, with a sole PCM 2.0 English mono dub track with optional translated signs for screen text and non-English dialogue.
So much is edited, that it feels more like a highlights package than a movie, although fans that first saw this version on VHS and the like will no doubt have nostalgia for it. What makes it worthwhile is the audio commentary from Howard Hughes and Richard Knew.
It is unfair to make comparisons, and there isn’t a shortage of spaghetti westerns made about and around the Mexican Revolution. But when the first such film that you see is A Fistful of Dynamite from Sergio Leone, it’s hard not see everything else fall short in comparison. But in its own right, Run, Man, Run is a damn fine film, as close as you can get to an outright spaghetti western comedy without it slipping into parody. It’s an entertaining blast from beginning to end, playing with many of the established tropes of the genre, but keeping it all fresh and light.
You can see the direction of travel from the opening scene, with the protagonist Cuchillo wandering into a seemingly abandoned town, past the corpses of a soldier and those executed for his ‘murder’ He sees an uneaten meal on a table in an empty house and seizes the opportunity for some petty thievery, and he walks out right into a firing squad. Cuchillo is an opportunistic petty thief who winds up in ever increasing trouble through no or little fault of his own. It’s almost an afterthought of a talent that he is lethally fast and accurate with the many blades he keeps secreted on his person. Unlike many spaghetti western protagonists, he’s less of an antihero, and certainly not quick to violence. He’s more of an everyman, with barely one foot on the lowest rung of the ladder.
He escapes his overbearing and insistent fiancée Dolores into prison, and he escapes prison straight into the revolution, when a dying man gives him the only clue to a $3 million fortune in gold. That gold is meant for the revolution, but everyone wants it, not least a former lawman named Cassidy. While Cuchillo might be one of nature’s great survivors, Cassidy has a more cynical outlook on life, and he’s purely in it for himself, at least at first. He’s ditched the badge for the promise of the gold and he’s not the only one.
Naturally the revolutionaries want it, ostensibly for the people; although the leader Santillana seems to think that he personally embodies the Mexican people. The president wants it, as do the two French secret agents in his employ. Bandits want the money too, and so does a Salvation Army worker named Penny who Cuchillo encounters. She’s pious and righteous at first, but it isn’t soon before her morality crumbles. In fact the only person who doesn’t want the gold is Dolores, as it would stop Cuchillo from marrying her, but she isn’t shy of stopping him getting it for the same reason.
It turns into a free-for-all with everyone heading to that Texas town, looking for the treasure, and in true genre style, with allegiances and loyalties shifting and turning all the way. In that respect, it’s more The Good, The Bad and The Ugly than A Fistful of Dynamite, but it’s all played with a much lighter, frivolous tone, with a comedic central character who verges on, but never crosses the line into parody. It’s a finely walked tightrope, but a whole lot of fun in the process. Eureka give the film a great presentation in this Limited Edition, and it comes with a nice set of extra features. It’s well worth looking into if you’re after a lighter toned spaghetti western.