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Road to Salina - aka - La route de Salina, The

Kino // R // July 6, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted July 2, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed by prolific French filmmaker Georges Lautner in 1970 with an interesting international cast, The Road To Salina was a French/Italian co-production. The story introduces us to a young drifter named Jonas (Robert Walker Jr.). He's down on his luck and needs to earn some money and so he hitches a ride to Salina hoping that his lucky will change once he arrives. He stops at a gas station where the woman who runs the place, Mara (Rita Hayworth), address him as Rocky. It's clear that Mara is suffering from some mental issues and she thinks that Jonas is her son, who has been missing for years. Jonas decides to take advantage of the situation and enjoy some warm food and a nice bed for the night. Mara's best friend, Warren (Ed Begley), explains to Jonas that does this type of thing all the time and since Jonas has decided to take advantage of her, he's better stick around so as not to break her heart.


And then Jonas meets Billie (Mimsy Farmer), when Mara's daughter and the young women that he has to now pretend is his sister. Jonas isn't sure, at least to start with, whether or not Billie knows he isn't the real Rocky, making it all the more unusual that she's clearly flirting with him in a pretty big way. Soon enough, they're sleeping together and both Mara and Warren understandably disapprove of this. The more time Jonas spends at Mara's place, the more he's left wondering how and why he's been accepted here as easily as he has, and what really happened to the real Rocky in the first place!


A weirdly compelling film set to a fantastic soundtrack by Bernard Gérard (some of which was recycled by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Road To Salina is a visually impressive film that makes great use of its widescreen scope photography. Shot by cinematographer Maurice Fellous, a frequent collaborator with Georges Lautner, the visuals do a fantastic job of pulling us into the story and in capturing some unusual locations, all of which add to the film's rather unorthodox vibe. The film's use of color is also rather interesting, with some unexpectedly garish hues in the décor and the wardrobe really popping in spots.


Performances are strong here. Robert Walker Jr., recognizable from playing Jack in the iconic Easy Rider a year prior, is strong in the lead. He's handsome, charming when he wants to be, but his character is maybe not one hundred percent on the up and up and that comes through nicely in some of his body language and line delivery. He has an interesting chemistry with Mimsey Farmer, who has never looked more beautiful than she has here. She's always been a great choice to play fragile characters and that was something that she did a lot, she has the right look for it, but here she seems very much in her element. It's one of her better performances. Ed Begley's surly presence is welcome, he's good here, and an aging Rita Hayworth, in one of her final roles, does a great job as Billie's fairly insane mother. Marc Porcel, from Lucio Fulci's The Psychic and Ruggero Deodato's Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man is also quite good in his smaller, but important, supporting role.


While the use of flashbacks to drive the narrative does mean that you'll probably figure out where the narrative is all going before maybe you should, the film does manage to hold our attention pretty easily thanks to its strange tone. It still manages to builds to a pretty intense and surprising conclusion. This is definitely worth seeing for fans of stranger and less traditional thrillers or weird seventies Eurocult films in general.


The Blu-ray

Video:

Kino Lorber brings The Road To Salina to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen taking up 31.6GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Taken from a transfer supplied by Studio Canal, the picture quality here is pretty strong. Detail is nice and the picture is quite clean. Colors are reproduced quite accurately and we get good black levels here as well. Skin tones look good and there are no issues with any compression artifacts or edge enhancement.


Sound:

Audio options are provided is both English and French language tracks in 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono format. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Both tracks are nicely balanced and quite clean, with the soundtrack having some good range and depth to it.


Extras:

Extras start off with an audio commentary by Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathanial Thompson where they cover how it's a shame that the movie isn't better known in North America, details of the film's soundtrack, the locations and the cinematography, how they each came to discover the film, how the film compares to other Georges Lautner pictures, the quality of the performances and plenty of details about the international cast assembled for the picture, how the film rewards repeat viewings, how the film mashes up a few different genres to create something unique, the use of nudity in the film, how unusually relaxed Farmer is in the picture, the dubbing in the picture and quite a bit more. It's a very conversational track, informal in nature but loaded with a lot of information and analysis.


The disc also includes a theatrical trailer for the feature, a Trailers For Hell entry with commentary from Larry Karaszewski, bonus trailers for And Hope To Die, The Widow Couderc, Rider On The Rain, The Man Who Haunted Himself, Dog Day and Le Professionnel as well as menus and chapter selection options.


Final Thoughts:

The Road To Salina really should be a better known picture than it is, as it's a very good film and quite unique. Kino Lorber has done a very nice job bringing this unsung gem to Blu-ray with a nice presentation for the feature and an interesting commentary to explore its origins and its merits. Highly recommended.

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.

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C O N T E N T

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A U D I O

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R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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