Sunday, June 9, 2024

Paramount Presents Once Upon A Time In The West: 2-Disc Set Review


I did my graduate thesis on Once Upon A Time In The West and in a creative way. I literally transcribed the entire script from watching the film on LaserDisc back in the 1990s and found know that more than an hour of the film is pure visual storytelling with the music added in and no dialogue. If you were to ask me one day “What is your favorite western?” I honestly could not say for certain. One day I will say The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and another day I will say Once Upon A Time In The West. They are both so close to my heart that it is hard for me to say which I like more, but regardless I think Once Upon A Time In The West is a crowning achievement. Some of you out there reading this may or may not know I have an MFA in Writing and my thesis, which was creative was inspired by Once Upon A Time In The West. It is called In The Shadow of Olympus Mons. It is a screenplay that garnered me a scholarship a year later to attend a two week workshop at the AFI paid for by ABC. So I love this movie and I am very acquainted with it. Besides having it on LaserDisc, I also have the two-disc DVD set released by Paramount Entertainment more than two decades ago and now I have Once Upon A Time In The West on both 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray Disc and 1080p full HD Blu-ray Disc, which is included on Paramount Home Entertainment’s recently released Paramount Presents Once Upon A Time In The West: 2-Disc Set, which has a spine number of 44 much like The Criterion Collection numbers their film releases on optical discs as well going all the way back to when LaserDisc was still the best way to view feature films at home. It’s amazing how far we have come since then. 

While I will be covering the extra value features found on the Blu-ray Disc, the real star of this set is the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc that is included in this two-disc set I am covering here and what can I say? In my humble opinion this restored 4K Ultra HD presentation is by far the best home video presentation I have seen. The colors are not over saturated. The widescreen frames come to life in ways that I have never seen before with details I have not noticed before either. By far this is the definitive presentation of Once Upon A Time In The West. You can do video processing on a computer or using a combination of professional grade scalers like one I have by Kramer that beautifully will upscale LaserDisc and DVD to full HD in tandem with a DVD recorder that has a good 3D digital comb filter with stunning results even on a 4K UHD TV, but not even the 1080p Full HD Blu-Ray Disc upscaled to 4K on my 65 inch Sony Bravia OLED 4K UHDTV does it equal the quality found on this limited edition presentation and that’s right you read it right, Paramount Presents Once Upon A Time In The West: 2-Disc Set is a limited edition item so I would not wait too long to grab this while it is still available. The 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc Set includes both HDR-10 and DolbyVision presentations restored from the original camera negative by Paramount’s archive team, L’imaggine Ritrovata and The Film Foundation, and was personally scrutinized and signed off on by Martin Scorsese.

Both the 4K UHD and 1080p Blu-ray Discs feature English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Soundtracks as well as English Restored Mono Dolby Digital Sound, French Language Dubbed Mono Dolby Digital Sound as well as English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and English Captions and well as French Language Subtitles encoded as options. The audio is sharp, clear and enveloping too. 

The extra value features include a new Audio Commentary by the Hosts of the Spaghetti Western Podcast as well as a new “Look Back” with Leonard Maltin united with the previously released Audio Commentary with contributions from Directors John Carpenter, John Milius and Alex Cox, Film Historians Sir Christopher Frayling & Dr. Sheldon Hall, and cast and crew, An Opera of Violence Documentary, The Wages of Sin Documentary, Something To Do With Death Documentary, Railroad: Revolutionising the West Featurette, Locations Then & Now - Stills Gallery, a  Production Stills Gallery and the Theatrical Trailer. The seamless menus are standard interactive still frames and are easy to navigate. A limited time only code for a free Digital Copy through Fandango is also included on an insert within keep case. Sadly there is no iTunes option, which surprised me since usually Paramount always includes an iTunes Digital Copy. There are some very brief liner notes visible on the flip side of the cover insert through the inside of the plastic keep case, which itself comes housed in a glossy cardboard slip that opens up to reveal a reproduction of the original theatrical one-sheet.

Below, framed for mobile screens is a short from this website’s companion YouTube channel, GenreOnlinenet featuring Henry Fonda discussing his iconic character introduction opening scene from Once Upon A Time In The West, which is not available on the Blu-ray Disc or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc set, but I think is important to show how audiences reacted when seeing Henry Fonda playing what I think is the only time he ever played a villain on the big screen. Enjoy.

Paramount Home Entertainment’s recently released Paramount Presents Once Upon A Time In The West: 2-Disc Set is available now at retailers on and offline. 

(C) Copyright 2024 By Mark A. Rivera

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