I watched the VHS version of this movie years ago, and have recently bought two DVD versions on Amazon--the Brentwood/BCI Eclipse here and the Digiview version. I have a wide screen TV with a high quality blu-ray player which is supposed to raise the resolution of regular DVDs to HD.
I've watched both DVDs, and clearly the Brentwood is the better print.Significantly sharper and true to color considering the age of the movie (1961).Both are wide screen, with perhaps an inch or so of black around the borders. The Digiview is slightly blurry--it says "made in China", which tells you something. The Brentwood is darn good, but watch for the blu-ray version which comes out in November.Perhaps the blu-ray will be off the master, instead of the laser disc, as these older DVDs are.
Now,to the movie. I believe Rio is one of Brando's best, most creative roles, along with Stanley in "Streetcar", Terry in "Waterfront" and the Godfather in "Godfather".The guy is an absolute stud at this stage of his career--with a face like a Greek god.A real presence on the screen. As is his talent for creating a character, renowned from his acting school days. He covers his usual great range of emotions with flawless dynamics and timing--from some of the most tender, sensitive love scenes he's ever done with Luisa (played beautifully by Pina Pellicer, at his direction), to the raging bull with his fellow outlaws. The film is aided by an exceptional cast featuring Karl Malden in one of his best roles as the bad guy,Dad,who deserts his friend,Rio(he and Marlon were the best of friends for 50 years in real life), and also Ben Johnson, Katy Jurado and a host of excellent character actors. The cinematography is breathtaking, with the backdrop of the Pacific ocean in on-location scenes. And then there's the musical score--one of best, most romantic in all films--by Hugo Friedhofer. Friedhofer, by the way, also did the orchestrations for the classic movie "Casablanca."
"One-Eyed Jacks" has become a cult film. It is said to bridge the old style 50s westerns with the new-style anti-hero spaghetti westerns of the 60s and later. It is apparently Martin Scorcese's favorite Western--which is enough to gain it some notoriety. It grows on you. You watch it a few times, and the performances start to sharpen, the scenery becomes more breathtaking, and the music starts to move you--especially in the tender romantic scenes between Rio and Luisa. Brando had that feminine, vulnerable side to him that all the great ones have, and it shows up in these scenes. Was he,too,revealing his other "Eye" when he came clean with Luisa about the jewelry?
It is said that Brando's direction resulted in a 4+ hour film which had to be cut by editors to the final 141 minutes. That's a lot of cutting. Brando's ending had Luisa killed in the last shootout by Dad's last shot. In fact, you can see her slumped over a bit on her horse as she rides out of town with Rio. The next scene, which was reshot later after the ending change, shows her riding more upright on her horse.Malden said Brando's original ending was better--it would have heightened the power and irony of the film. But 4+ hours? No. The editors did a good job,in my view, with the cutting, regardless of which ending.It's still a great film--Luisa dead or alive.
A word about Brando's view of the film: he said years later all he remembered was all the women in the movie he made love to off the set while filming. You can count the possibilities--about seven beauties! Including Katy Jurado, an old flame, and Pina Pellicer, who received a memorable introduction to method acting by Brando which surely aided her performance.