It’s just come to my attention that Ralph Nelson’s gritty 1966 western Duel at Diablo is being released on Blu-ray by Koch Media in Germany at the end of March. It’s already had a US release but this is welcome news for those of us in Europe looking for a Region B version.
I remember writing about the film almost a decade ago (!) and I was ambivalent about it at the time. It’s grown on me some since then and I feel better about it now, and that Neal Hefti score.
20 thoughts on “Blu News – Duel at Diablo”
I have that Kino Lorber release on the shelf. Just haven’t got to it yet but that should come as no surprise. The pile never seems to lessen of unwatched titles around here. It’s the collecting that is part of the thrill.
True! I don’t expect there will be much difference, if any, between the Kino and Koch releases, probably both coming off the same master.
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Love the score on this. Is it sad to admit that back in the day I recorded it onto cassette with a microphone up against the TV speaker, long before VHS etc?
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Ha! I remember doing that with a lot of stuff before VHS, and then when VHS tapes were still too expensive for me to afford!
My own feelings about this film are not even ambivalent, I must say. One of the worst westerns I’ve ever seen… Pour rester poli. However, I do appreciate some Neal Hefti scores, for the Count Basie Orchestra for instance, such as “Girl Talk” or “Cute”, not to mention the whole “Atomic Basie” album (Roulette Records). But it has nothing to do with the western genre.
Hefti was an extremely odd choice for a western. I like the music here but I also agree that it doesn’t really have a feel one would associate with the genre – there’s that slick, urban feel to it for one thing. I wonder if the decision was consciously taken to go for something quirky and distinctive in an attempt to ride on the coattails of the burgeoning Euro western boom.
A good soundtrack can surely bump a movie. Sometimes the music is better than the film. LoL!
Not a Classic, but Diablo has some nice Star Power: Garner, Poitier, Weaver, and Anderson.
Garner could carry most any Western all by himself.
Westward HO … !
Garner does shoulder a lot of work in this one, and his presence helps keep it going when it falters. A very smooth and composed performer who made things look a lot easier than they were. I rewatched a fair bit of The Rockford Files last year and he really was very good.
I hope Colin will not mind but I’m going to hi-jack
this thread and give my (non-spoiler) impressions
of the recently released HOSTILES.
Scott Cooper’s film has been discussed on these pages
before so perhaps it’s not so much of an “invasion”
First,let me state I feel that HOSTILES is the finest Western
I have seen every cinema released Western since UNFORGIVEN
and HOSTILES is the only one that I will add to my Western movies
collection-I will buy the Blu Ray as soon as it hits the streets.
I have to various degrees enjoyed several post UNFORGIVEN
Westerns ,in particular SERAPHIM FALLS
and APPALOOSA but both,I feel fell apart at the end,especially so
with the former.
Cooper’s film,I feel is a winner all the way-it has a strong ending
and the film for me has a perfect closure.
The early stages of the film recall,on purpose,the attitudes of the
repellent ARROWHEAD (1953) but we soon realize that the
characters in the film are on a journey-which is certainly
spiritual a journey of reconciliation if you will.
In those early stages I thought I was watching the first Western of
the “Trump Era”-this could not be further from the truth.
The themes in HOSTILES are similar,in parts to THE OUTLAW JOSEY
WALES-there is the odd homage here and there;Cooper even has the
audacity to recycle one of Bill Munney’s classic lines from UNFORGIVEN
but it works a treat and suits the tone of the film perfectly.
Cooper like Eastwood takes his own sweet time but the film never drags,
the often magnificent landscapes never detract from the narrative-they
compliment it as opposed to competing with it.
The slow pace-with occasional jarring jolts of violence build up to
a powerful climax with a huge emotional impact.
One of the reviews-used I might add on the UK posters- state
“not your Daddy’s Western” -well to me the film will appeal far more
to Eastwood followers than say Tarantino-furthermore the scant
audience that I saw the film with were all in the “over 60” age group.
I might add the last film that I saw at the cinema was Tarantino’s ghastly
I’m sure,Colin-you will enjoy HOSTILES if you in fact have already
seen it and furthermore I hope regulars Blake Lucas and Richard W
get to see it as well-I for one would love to know what all three of
you think and that goes for all RTHC regulars.
As you will have gathered by now HOSTILES gets my highest recommendation,.
Thanks Colin,for indulging me.
John, that;s a very welcome piece of hijacking. I haven’t seen the film yet and I’m not sure when it’s getting a release here – maybe early spring. Regardless, I was planning on seeing it when it arrives and I’m all the more enthusiastic about it now that I know it impressed you so much.
Colin – Would appreciate your take on Hostiles once you’ve seen it. I saw it last night and liked it so much will be seeing it again tomorrow night. It needs to be seen on a big screen.
It is a top-tier western.
Tony, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the film, especially with all the good word of mouth I’ve been hearing. It seems to be due a late February release in cinemas here and I’ll definitely be attending.
Pleased to read you liked Hostiles John. It is on my list to see, though not certain yet whether it will be in cinema with the constant smell of hotdogs mixed with popcorn, or in comfort of my own home on blu ray, with the lovely aroma from the excellent spiced rum l had for Christmas.
The film had a very good review from highly regarded but fussy critic Mark Kermode last week.
Thankfully l did make the right choice by watching The Hateful Eight on blu ray, and not suffering it in a cinema, l also watched that one in two parts! I’m not knocking Quentin, l really like Django Unchained, l have seen that three times.
Back to subject, Duel At Diablo, great tough western, great cast, and great soundtrack LP.
Mike, I know a lot of people share your ambivalence about cinema-going these days, and I can understand the lack of charm that the multiplex experience can sometimes have. Here in Athens, I feel fortunate that the city center cinemas I frequent are of the old-style variety – you get the usual snacks and so on sold but the overall atmosphere makes for more pleasurable viewing, and a more enjoyable outing in general.
Colin, you are lucky. Our nearest cinema like that is about 15 miles away, not a great distance, but on a cold winter night, I think twice about it.
Fair enough, Mike. In the wrong time of year that’s far enough to be too far. Yes, I am lucky, I suppose, in that I’m actually within walking distance of a few very classy cinemas. And then, come summer, there’s the outdoor variety and the regular revivals of the classics.
Saw Duel at Diablo on a huge screen at the drive-in back in the day. Liked it from what I recall/ Friday there was always a western triple bill. It was nothing unusual to see a 1960’s film mixed in with ones from the 40’s and 50’s. It was all great fun. I sure miss drive ins.
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The drive-in was never a “thing” in my part of the world, Gord, so it’s something I’ve only ever been aware of from depictions on TV and in movies. It seems like one of those uniquely American experiences that are all the more attractive because of remoteness. Mind you, here in Greece we have outdoor cinemas in the summer, and that’s a rather wonderful way to watch movies, in my opinion anyway.
Up here in Canada they were only open from late spring till early fall. They were all closed during the winter months. Ones in the southern US I imagine were open all year. . Great place as teens to take the girls. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink as the Monty Python boys would say.
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Yes, every time I see a drive-in depicted on screen it nearly always involves teens on dates!