Actors: Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma, Walter Rilla
Director: Tonino Valerii
Format: Blu-ray, NTSC
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Run Time: 95 minutes
The wonderful thing about genre films is that there is no need for originality in plot; all that is needed is creativity in the presentation of expected narratives. Day of Anger (also known as Days of Wrath) is a perfectly example of this, doing little unexpected within the context of a spaghetti western, but doing it in a way that is never short of fantastic. No filmmaker is likely to surpass Sergio Leone in popularity when discussing this sub-genre of film made popular mostly during the 1960s and 70s, but Tonino Valerii comes remarkably close with this cult classic. Perhaps it did not hurt to have Leone regular Lee Van Cleef as one of the film’s stars.
In a typical western storyline, Van Cleef stars as a gunslinger named Frank Talby who is out for revenge against a group of men who did him wrong. When he enters into a village in order to find the men he wants vengeance against, Talby befriends a bastard young man being demeaned and abused by members of the town. Forced to carry out all menial tasks in town while unable to even have a drink in the local saloon like an ordinary man, Scott (Guiliano Gemma) learns how to stick up for himself through a partnership with Talby. The film truly becomes intriguing when it becomes clear that Scott’s motives are more pure than Talby’s, and their friendship is tumultuous at best. Even when saving Talby from a group of men looking to stop him from finding justice, Scott only gives him enough bullets for the enemies.
Because the motives of Talby are questionable, it is clear that the morally righteous Scott will be our protagonist. What is unexpected about the narrative is the complexity of the relationship between these two men, regardless of how predictable many plot points may be. Few spaghetti westerns are as balanced as Day of Anger, combining violent spectacle with a psychologically compelling relationship between the two characters. This is more than a movie about good versus evil; it is a film about the spiritual corruption that comes with evil deeds, regardless of their moral justification.
Arrow Films should be commended for not merely bringing the out-of-print film to high definition Blu-ray, but also forgiving the film the treatment that it deserves. Not only does Riz Ortolani’s score and Enzo Sarafin’s cinematography come across fantastic in the restored presentation, there are even three different versions of the film available on the disc. Though I would not recommend the
theatrical cut of the film, it is helpful in showing how much was cut out of
the original Italian version. Various options for language and
subtitles/dubbing are also available within these versions. The special
features include three interviews from key players, including Valerii,
screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, and a forty-five minute assessment of Valerii’s
work from film critic Robert Curti. United States
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 7/10