Every Which Way But Loose Blu-ray Review
PictureEvery Which Way But Loose fits right alongside The Gauntlet in terms of its visual transfer. But where the effects of DNR made a slight impression on the earlier movie's BD image, this film yields plenty of filmic grain, yet remains wonderfully clean, bright and vital.
For a start, this 1.85:1 VC-1 encode has no damage that is worth mentioning at all, the picture being rock-solid and immaculately presented with stability and a robust sense of framing and colour. The spectrum is full and vivid. It may be from a different universe entirely from the likes of Speed Racer, but the primaries are full and strong, the subtler hues precise, warm and inviting to the eye. Interiors have nice shadows that don't wallow, don't overly downplay the colours elsewhere or mask any details therein. Exteriors have that bright, but dry imaging that pictures from the seventies that dealt with southern states always seemed to exhibit. Skin tones are quite good and there is a fair degree of pore-and-pock-mark revealing detail if you like that sort of thing. The old guy testing Ma's eyes at the end - who looks like Nicolas Cage in a few years time - has wacky teeth and this transfer allows you to see the plaque and nicotine stains rather too well. Ma's blotchy skin also looks un-scrubbed by the digital cleaners.
One or two shots suddenly come over quite grainy, but these are brief, with the majority of the feature remaining quite consistently filmic. The riverside camp scene is nicely three-dimensional, as is Clint's subsequent jog along the valley road and the entire sequence when the bumbling cops try to trap Philo as he stands fishing in the lake looks far better, crisper, more detailed and with much more natural depth than I've ever seen it exhibit before. The foliage and the branches are keenly etched and the sun glinting off the water is nicely reproduced, with the far bank sitting convincingly in the distance.
Some shots show off a little more edge enhancement than others - I'm thinking of Orville's denim shirt and cap against some backgrounds - but, once again, this is not something that should upset anybody. Artefacts and digital noise are minimal, although I did detect a couple of instances of minor motion drag as characters front and centre suddenly shifted out of shot. Still, no major drama there, though, folks.
Every Which Way But Loose looks great on Blu-ray. It is clearly ahead of its SD predecessors in every way and whilst it may pose no threat to the shining examples of modern productions seen in 1080p, it more than holds it own against other material from this era. A strong 7 out of 10.
SoundI have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the activity provided by this TrueHD 5.1 track. Let's be honest, you hardly expect anything in the way of surround to play about this movie, do you? Yet, there are plenty of instances of voices, engines-gunning, impacts and relatively interesting ambience being delivered from behind you. For a start the scenes set within the bars are quite smartly embellished with hubbub - snatches of dialogue, glasses tinkling etc - that is presented from all around you. The voices of the crowd around Philo's fights are nicely three-dimensional and the songs crooned out by the various C&W bands on stage have warmth, inner-activity and detail. In fact, although a much more subtle movie than the majority of even the quieter fare from these days, Every Which Way is an all-round enjoyable experience that keeps on surprising with little elements here and there that please because our expectations were understandably lowered.
The roaring of the Black Widows' bikes is suitably throaty and raucous. The shotgun blasts that Ma puts into them is actually far more bombastic than I had ever anticipated it would be and actually had me jumping out of my skin. The vast number of roundhouse punches and other sundry bone-onto-bone impacts have a playfully enhanced “bokk!” and “crack!” that comes over very well - not at all realistic, you understand, but authentic to the original track, just the same. Clyde's driving of the road-rig over the loading ramp boasts some nice sub-oomph and the directionality of debris is well rendered, too. The various crunching sounds of Widow bikes also have some suitable grinding metal detail within.
All in all, Every Which But Loose boasts a sound design that is rewardingly lively. Whereas many mono or stereo tracks from years ago sound woefully bogus when any sort of directionality is added to them, or any effect is thrown out to the rears, Warner's engineers have delivered a track that is surprisingly thoughtful and well-balanced. There is a moment when Philo confronts Lynn outside of a bar and the sound of the merriment and music inside is very convincingly discernable without being at all intrusive, and located appropriately behind the conversation taking place. Many other tracks would have simply omitted this detail, I'm sure.
So, good stuff here, then and another capable 7 out of 10.
ExtrasAnother bare-bones release from Warner. Whilst Every Which Way is no Dirty Harry or Unforgiven, you would think that something of added value could have been found for fans of the film. Alas, we get zip. Nada.
VerdictEastwood coasting along for a few yuks more, Every Which Way But Loose is never less than entertaining. The star always had a penchant for comedy, although he tended to reveal it via acerbic one-liners and sarcastic put-downs amidst some, otherwise, much more serious gun-play. Philo Beddoe is a weird hybrid of all that gone before in Clint's pantheon of heroes - so beaten, shot-up and played-out that violence had become a simple daily pleasure, yet so mellowed, laconic and genuinely loveable that no matter how many fights he starts and how much damage he causes you can't help but warm to him. Beddoe occupies a unique position in Clint's canon, neither a fully-fledged hero nor a provocative anti-hero. A good old boy and a complete idiot that Clint makes so easy to root for. The film does run out of steam and contain a few indulgent interludes along the way, but this is still a classic of its kind that delivers laughs and action aplenty. Held together by good-natured banter and a punch-drunk, meandering approach, Every Which Way But Loose is prime-time beer and pizza fare.
Warner's disc may cut its own throat with another sorry lack of extras, but its transfer is very nice indeed. The picture has never looked better and the sound, although conservative by modern standards, is surprisingly active. For the Clint collectors out there, this is a dead cert and for fans of comedy-action with simian overtones, then look no further.
Come on, Clint, give us some more Blu-rays, mate!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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