Henry Fonda (who had worked with Sergio Leone a few years prior in the masterpiece that is Once Upon A Time In The West) plays a pistolero named Jack Beauregard who is coming to terms with the fact that, frankly, he's getting too old for the lifestyle he leads. As such, he's making his way to New Orleans where he intends to hang up his belt and enjoy his golden years in a more sedate manner than he has been accustomed to thus far by taking a long boat ride away from it all.
As Jack makes his way to the big easy, a young gunfighter named Nobody (Terrance Hill of My Name Is Trinity and Boot Hill) who sees him as a hero finds out that he's going to be retiring, and so he decides to send his mentor off in style by forcing him to fend for himself in a shootout of epic proportions sure to solidify his legacy in the history books of the old west.
Directed by Sergio Leone protégé Tonino Valeri (who would cut his teeth doing second unit work on For A Few Dollars More and then later helm his Day Of Anger starring Lee Van Cleef in one of his signature roles) pays homage to the master of the genre, with some un-credited help from Leone himself (who also served as co-writer and producer on the film). Visually, this movie is almost on par with the Dollars Trilogy and Once Upon A Time In The West, complete with lots of close ups, fast cutting, and wide angle cinematography that is simply gorgeous in the way that it captures the desert landscapes that the film plays out over. Even if Leone didn't direct the entire film, it has his mark all over it as far as the visuals are concerned.
Where this film really differs from Leone's films however is in the comedy. Not that his movies were without a sense of humor (there are some very funny parts in the three Eastwood films and in Bronson's movie as well) but when they were funny, there was an air of menace around and much of the humor was quite black. Here, it's almost completely slapstick in style, a trait that was obviously carried over from the Trinity movies which were extremely popular at the time and which Hill had made (many of which teamed him up with Bud Spencer) and which did extremely well at the Italian box office. To be honest, this is both the film's biggest plus and its biggest minus all at the same time. Some of the humor is very effective, the interplay between Jack and Nobody is handled extremely well and much of the dialogue in these scenes is quite clever indeed. Unfortunately there are just as many instances where the humor is very ham fisted and not so effective, such as a truly unnecessary and particularly unfunny urination scene.
When the comedy works though, it's great. A lot of the credit for its effectiveness has to go to Hill's comedic timing, which more often than not is dead on. Aided immensely by Ennio Morricone's perfectly suitable score, Hill works his way through the film with a certain amount of coolness that really does pay off. Fonda plays the straight man for most of the film and he's great in the role as well. When you think about how Spencer, a star of the popular Spaghetti Westerns of the time, and Fonda, an older, aging actor from America where the western movie was born, play off of each other it does make for an interesting contrast. This contrast appears not only in terms of their characters and their stories but also in terms of how, for a good portion of time in the sixties and seventies, the Italian western more or less laid waste to the American western in terms of cinematic drawing power. Look for a friendly (?) jab at Sam Peckinpah in the cemetery scene that kind of makes this comparison as well.
The action scenes are also handled very well, with plenty of shoot outs and horse riding to keep the film moving along at a brisk pace despite the rather lengthy almost two hour running time. While it isn't the classic that the earlier entries some Sergio Leone turned out to be, My Name Is Nobody is still an entertaining western comedy with some very nice camera work and two quality performances from its lead actors.
Image presents My Name Is Nobody in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. There is some minor print damage throughout, but aside from a few instances where small scratches are visible it's mostly just some small white specks throughout the movie and maybe a few minor scratches, but for the most part the image is pretty clean even if it's obvious that there was some room left for improvement in this area. Colors are reproduced quite nicely across the board and black levels are good. Shadow detail is decent enough, detail in general is quite good actually, and texture is pretty good as well. Skin tones look good, not too hot or too pink, and the presentation is fairly film like, not showing any evidence of heavy handed noise reduction or edge enhancement. No obvious compression artifacts popped up and all in all, the movie transfers to Blu-ray quite nicely and offers a nice upgrade over its standard definition counterpart.
The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 mix with optional closed captioning provided in English only. Where you'll notice the biggest upgrade, in terms of the sound mix here, is with Morricone's score. There would seem to be more depth and range here than there was on the DVD, it sounds better, more natural. The dialogue has also got a bit more depth to it, the English dubbing coming through nice and clear without any hiss or distortion. Levels are nicely balanced and generally things sound quite good. Some scenes are a little flat, but that would likely be due to the original elements rather than the mix on the disc itself.
Unfortunately, this is the department where Image really dropped the ball… the disc is completely bare bones and contains no extra features whatsoever. To top it all off, the menu design is ugly.
My Name Is Nobody is a fun one with some great cinematography and fine performances from Henry Fonda and Terrance Hill and on top of that it features a great, memorable score from Morricone. Image's Blu-ray is, unfortunately, completely barebones but it does look and sound fairly good. Recommended if you like the film and want a nice high definition upgrade.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.