Bandolero! (1968) + 100 Rifles (1969) and au revoir to Twilight Time

May 12, 2020 | By

Historians familiar with the final phase of the classic seven-year Hollywood contract and its system – in which stars and starlets were trained in every facet of acting, singing, dancing, whatever – probably know which studios and actors were among the last to go through what was a talent shaping program + Medieval servitude. You were groomed, but you were also told what to do, loaned out to outside producers & studios for a profit not enjoyed by you, and if you refused too many assigned parts, you were put on suspension with time away extending your contract past its seven years.

In 1944, actress Olivia de Havilland (My Cousin Rachel) notoriously sued Warner Bros. and won, creating a gash in a system that did reward its talent pool with the beginnings of a career… but if you were pegged as the new Marilyn Monroe or Tab Hunter, you were packaged and promoted as such.

Raquel Welch may have been one of the last to go through the classic build up (and maybe Joey Heatherton, with whom she co-starred in the surreal Bluebeard), but she also worked with some amazing talent, and eventually co-produced projects with her husband, yet as her career was shifting from the latest international sex goddess (witness the ridiculous Maurice Binder Main Titles of Fathom, or each of the short but zesty scenes in Bedazzled) to emerging actress in superb productions like The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), things cracked – but not of her own blundering.

By the early 1980s Welch had done a TV special, Broadway, and earned further credit among critics, but soon after being signed to star in Cannery Row, the producers dumped her, citing difficulties. Although the role was recast with a younger Debra Winger in 1982, Welch sued MGM, and 4 years later she was awarded $10.8 million for MGM/UA’s breach of contract (and for using her name to gain production funds prior to an intended dismissal) – a provocative and demeaning tease for investors and talent alike.

MGM’s move seemed especially dumb given the company had just bought United Artists after the Heaven’s Gate debacle, and maybe figured Welch, perceived as an over-the-hill star, wasn’t smart enough to see what game was being played, and wasn’t gusty enough to fight for her rights. Whether the maneuver was part of a roguish cost-cutting measure by a couple of weasels to fund films more creatively is unknown, but like de Havilland’s successful lawsuit, it made a point, and left a deep singe mark.

(Welch was also part of a top-heavy cast in the Musketeers diptych, which started off as one long picture until the production was halved into two films, causing the cast to mount legal action, since the producers were initially getting two films for the price of one.)


Why does Jimmy Stewart look like Mike Connors? Why does Dean Martin look like Sammy Davis Jr.?


In 1968, Welch was the only starring actress in Bandolero! (released on Blu via Twilight Time) which also featured Dean Martin, James Stewart, and George Kennedy. The men got the bigger parts, but in spite of the obvious physical grooming – big hair, fine outfits – Welch’s quiet performance proved she was more than an emerging sex goddess.

1969’s 100 Rifles (released on Blu and DVD via KINO) offered a bigger role as a rebel Yaqui leader in turn of the century Mexico, but the costumes and skin shots played up her obvious onscreen sizzle. The teases are more ridiculous than dramatically necessary (note Spanish poster below), but co-star Jim Brown was given similar attention as the film’s action star. As co-star Burt Reynolds reportedly quipped, he took the funny lines and left the bare chest material to Brown.


Nope, forget about Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds, and Fernando Lamas. Let’s build a poster around one scene featuring Raquel Welch + white dress shirt + water.


It’s also a film directed by Tom Gries, an award-winning writer-director who created the hit TV series The Rat Patrol (1966-1968), made a series of westerns, a pair of Charles Bronson classics, and what may be the still-definitive true crime dramatization of the Tate-LaBianca murders in Helter Skelter (1976).

Gries may not have had a recognizable style, but his movies had solid pacing, a careful balance of drama and wry humour, and often featured roles that gave rigidly pegged actors some wiggle room. Charles Bronson is quite funny in Breakout (1975), but like 100 Rifles, it has its mean moments.

From two westerns co-starring Welch – one an A-minus, the other a B-plus grade by studio standards – there’s a lot of cinema history, and you could see the release of each by a different home video label as transition points in an industry which birthed innovative labels and passionate individuals.

Not to take anything away from KINO Lorber’s Studio Classics line, but 100 Rifles at one time seemed a likely TT release, especially since they often featured commentary tracks with by Cinema Retro’s Lee Pfeiffer and historian Paul Scrabo, and TT had been mining the Twentieth Century-Fox catalogue prior to KINO’s increasingly hefty offerings. The latter had a history of producing special editions of classic Hollywood, foreign, and silent films, whereas the former began with Fox, added MGM / UA, and some Universal titles.

TT wasn’t the only label to feature commentary tracks – the nod goes to Criterion and the former home video / special features departments of the studios, pre-downsizing, of course – and they weren’t the first to offer isolated music tracks that exclusively featured film scores, many previously unreleased; laserdiscs pioneered that feature, some via Criterion, and many via MGM / UA. Fox did a few as well, and perhaps the most impressive was The Omen (1976), because it featured in stereo Jerry Goldsmith’s complete cues – unedited and unused – placed in their intended spots.

Unreleased music aside, the isolated track allowed one to watch a scene and get an impression of how the composer read a scene, his musical interpretation, and how the director, producer, editor, and mixer shaped the final choice, since the score was one of several vital elements in a movie’s final mix.

The Omen laserdisc music track and its contextual / educational use of the media for cineastes and filmmusic fans was produced by the late Nick Redman, already a longtime soundtrack producer, an Alfred Newman champion, a co-founder with Brian Jamieson of Twilight Time, and husband to TT’s resident essayist, commentator, and film historian, Julie Kirgo.

Most film-loving labels are run by film fans, but as Kirgo, Redman, and professor / editor Paul Seydor noted in their commentary for Delmer Daves’ Cowboy (1958), home video allowed longer, more critical, and appreciative reviews and essays on films and its talent pool which would otherwise be forgotten over time, if not heavily marginalized.

The mass of licensed releases by home video labels KINO, Cohen Media Group, Shout! Factory, Criterion, Severin, Indicator, Synapse, Blue Underground, Olive, Scorpion Releasing, Code Red, Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome,  and countless more have grown as more catalogues are offered up by licensing-friendly owners.

Each label has their own fixation, but they’re part of a mindset in which physical media is the vinyl LP of home video: dedicated to collectors, connoisseurs, and private archivists who recognize “purchase” doesn’t mean ownership or the freedom to transfer digital files between media, players, and personal media devices; if a recent lawsuit fixes issues, it’ll at least apply the proper, transparent nomenclature of “rental,” since buying a digital movie from Amazon and iTunes is really paying a license to view a work with Our Player, for an Undetermined / Undisclosed Period, and when the Rights of the Provider have Expired, Your ‘ownership’ ends, and the file is Deleted by the now or imminently Former Licensee.

After 9 years which yielded 380 titles, on Sunday May 10th, Twilight Time issued a statement  outlining the formal end of the label proper, which I’ve pasted below:


* * *

All titles priced at $3.95, $4.45, $6.95 or $11.95
Many of these titles will never be seen on Blu-ray again!
Buy now to complete your Twilight Time library
as only limited quantities remain on many titles

After nine years of successful operations in which 380 motion pictures from the 1930s to the 2010s have been released on DVD and  Blu-ray disc, the home video label Twilight Time founded by veteran Hollywood studio executives and filmmakers Brian Jamieson and the late, dearly celebrated Nick Redman, will not release any further titles and we will be winding down operations this summer.  A changing market, the rising costs of title acquisitions and the passing of longtime partner and company spokesman Nick Redman, are key reasons for the closure.

As part of our winding down process, there will be a one-time reduction in prices to $3.95,$6.95 and $11.95 as of Monday, May 11th at  Cinemagistics/ will continue to sell titles while available through June 30th, at which time they and Twilight Time will cease operations.

Remaining inventory will be acquired and distributed exclusively by Screen Archives – effective July 1st 2020.

When launched in 2011, Twilight Time pioneered the concept of bringing rare and distinctive films of all genres to the marketplace in 3,000-unit Limited Editions, exclusively available at two website destinations: Screen Archives Entertainment and later Twilight Time Movies.  This allowed devoted movie fans to obtain physical copies of highly desired titles which did not command shelf space at local brick and mortar stores.  Nick aptly named the venture Twilight Time, because eventually the concept of film as physical goods would have a ‘sell-by date’ possibly sooner rather than later. Nick once said, “At the onset we never envisaged we would be around for nearly a decade before it was time for the sun to set on the company.”

During that time, the Twilight Time catalog has included fabled films from the libraries of Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, MGM/United Artists, Universal Studios, Film 4, Protagonist Pictures, Toei Company and other entities, and showcased many Academy Award®- and international prize-winning titles.  Thanks to Nick Redman’s 30+ years as an award-winning film music historian and preservationist, most releases have included synchronized Isolated Music or Music-and-Effects Tracks that provided a rare platform for the lauded and unsung composers so vital to the filmmaking process. Many offerings also provided informative Audio Commentary tracks involving co-founder Redman and a host of internationally noted film historians that expertly contextualized and enhanced the viewing experience.

From the beginning, the core Twilight Time players – essayist and commentary contributor Julie Kirgo, packaging designer Louis Falzarano, soundtrack editor/music historian Mike Matessino, disc authoring supervisor Jeff Jewett, and our project coordinator Mike Finnegan – have played essential and “best in class” roles in this unique venture. We also want to recognize the extraordinary help of our Distribution and Marketing partners at Screen Archives and Twilight Time Movies. Most importantly, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you, the appreciative film collector.  You have supported us throughout this marvelous journey and will hopefully continue to do so while these “one of a kind” limited-run titles are still accessible to you.

We couldn’t have done it without you – our loyal customers!

* * *


Redman, Jamieson, Kirgo, and the multitude of historians, archivists, biographers left their mark on a massive catalogue of frequently definitive release, and some of their efforts – in particular commentaries and isolated scores – will live on as extras licensed to other labels. Although Redman is no longer with us, the vision he shared with his TT partners and colleagues within the notable community of indie labels and studios with simpatico assets management leaders continues. The fall and Christmas season of 2019 truly felt like a replay of years 2005-2007 when studios were building themed sets, megasets, and special editions of films for fans and collectors – home video’s core buyers, who were placed on equal footing.

A film fan can be an obsessive type, or a casual buyer, or a gifter of classic films people ‘should own’ or share in the enjoyment. Ignoring a few flagrant examples of double-dipping, most home video releases were either bare bones or special editions because it made sense to pack a work with value-added special features.

The Warner Night at the Movies format, as in their original 2003 2-disc edition of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), gave viewers the option to watch some cartoons, a newsreel, and some oddball ephemera and trailers prior to the main feature – a great concept studios could do because they (still) own so many archival goodies which in many cases they produced; and I remember the 2003 Elite Entertainment Drive-In DVDs series, such as I Bury the Living (1958), which featured the adverts for food, proper viewing behaviour, and trailers to give viewers a small-scale impression of the sometimes elaborate visual and physical menagerie within bigger and more adventurous drive-ins. The feature film was also playable in an optional “Distorto Sound” 5.1 setup.

There’s more to movies than cosmic universes and franchises, and if the studios are fine with creating 2K and 4K masters of their entire film & TV catalogue with licensing options to labels wanting to craft their own distinct physical releases, I’m fine with that, but I hope the current glut of product won’t turn into more strategically curated selections due to squatting owners. Indie labels have made a habit now of announcing titles soon to become OOP – a practice begun by Criterion when the Canal Plus library rights were coming to an abrupt end – but as the lifespan of the CP catalogue shows, things come around.

After a batch of titles formerly licensed to Criterion expired, in 2010 CP gave it a go with their own Blu-ray special editions, of which a modest selection, like The Third Man (1949) and Ran (1985), were distributed in North America via Lionsgate, and Maple in Canada. Several years after that experiment had ended, KINO and Film Movement stepped up, curating certain titles much in the way some Fox and prior MGM / UA releases showed up on Twilight Time, KINO, and Shout rosters.

Disney 2020 excepted, things seem to go in full circle among catalogue owners and home video labels.

I’ll conclude with a simple au revoir to Twilight Time, because the creative minds behind and who flowed through the label will probably focus on passion projects or collaborate on other films that remain on their hit list, and absolutely deserve a physical release; whether it’s pegged to a corkboard, a digital sticky, a big whiteboard, or a brittle shopping list kept on a fridge from a well-used Screen Archives Entertainment magnet, there’s always long and short, big and small screen productions deserving a physical release, and it’s inevitable, through the efforts of indie labels, they’ll enjoy they’re ephemeral place in the sun.

Coming next: Stephen Norrington’s Death Machine (1994), some ridiculous Jess Franco from Severin, and Delmer Daves’ underrated gem Cowboy (1958) from Twilight Time.

Thanks for reading,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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