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John Landis Talks 'Three Amigos' on Blu-ray

18 Nov, 2011 By: Billy Gil

John Landis

Three Amigos is the kind of movie you just don’t see made anymore — a family-friendly comedy that’s actually funny, with big stars who are acting instead of doing it for the paycheck. HBO Home Entertainment must know something about its enduring popularity, as it will release the
movie on Blu-ray in a 25th Anniversary Edition Nov. 22 at $14.98. The release includes 20 minutes of previously unreleased material, as well as a reprint of a reunion story Empire magazine did with stars Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. We caught up with director John Landis to find out about the new release.

■ HM: Can you walk us through what’s on this new Blu-ray?

Landis: I had the luxury of restoring it. I’ve never been satisfied with any of the DVD releases because they just dupe the 35mm print and send it out. With Blu-ray you can really go in and clean it. … The movie really looks beautiful because we went through a lot of trouble to make it look like an old Western. We also went back and found the second preview prints, so there’s about 20 minutes of additional material of scenes that were trimmed or cut from the film, and that’s a lot of funny stuff.

■ HM: Can you talk about the new transfer?

Landis: I made it look the way it was supposed to. William Friedkin famously once said, “Only the projectionist has final cut.” It’s true. What happens with digital technologies, you can get a picture the way you want it and be fairly confident it will continue to look that way. With film it would get ragged; there’s duping, lost quality control. In Three Amigos, we went through a lot of trouble with costumes, photography. We wanted it to look like an old Technicolor Hollywood Western, a very specific look. We went through a great deal of trouble with the music. … Remember in The Wizard of Oz when they finally go to Oz and they all get cleaned up and polished? It’s like that.

■ HM: To what do you attribute the film’s consistent popularity? Do you think it may be because there aren’t a lot of family-friendly comedies made these days that are as funny?

Landis: I can’t speak to that, but Three Amigos was not a big hit when it came out. I remember people being very disappointed because it didn’t make the kind of money people were hoping for. But it has been a consistent hit since then. It makes me laugh. There are so many really fine performances in it, and it’s a really lovely script — which has been ripped off repeatedly (He cites Tropic Thunder, Galaxy Quest, etc.). ... By the way, I like Galaxy Quest very much. It’s funny; that’s the bottom line.

■ HM: Are there any commentaries?

Landis: I don’t like commentaries. When I’m watching a movie, I always think, “Shh, be quiet. I’m trying to watch the movie.”

■ HM: Anything to add about the release?

Landis: I’m just delighted with it because DVD and especially Blu-ray is a wonderful technology, but it is often done by technicians. When the original filmmakers are allowed to be involved, it’s always to the benefit of the film. It’s one of my films that whenever I catch any of it — I don’t watch my movies — but when I was doing the restoration, I thought, this is funny. I was enjoying it.

About the Author: Billy Gil

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