Release Date(s)1983 (May 10, 2022)
Studio(s)Cannon Film Distributors/MGM (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
[Editor’s Note: My personal thanks to Greg Kintz of 3-D Film Archive who assisted me dutifully, providing a wealth of information about the 3D restoration of this film.]
In 1981, Ferdinando Baldi’s Comin’ at Ya! had rebirthed the once-thought-dead 3D theatrical format. It was a 3D Western in which the plot wasn’t as important as the plethora of objects hurled at the camera to execute the stereo-processed visual effects, giving you plenty of dimension for your dollar. It did quite well, and two years later, the same team released Treasure of the Four Crowns, which obviously took its cues from the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark (as did many other films, large and small). Returning as the lead was Tony Anthony, and new to the table was the incomparable Ennio Morricone, who delivered a surprisingly lush score.
J.T. Striker (Tony Anthony) is a thief for hire, one of the best. After plundering then escaping an underground cave to retrieve a mysterious key from the assorted relics there while also avoiding the ghostly wrath of flying spears and fireballs, he’s hired once again for another assignment. He is to assemble a group of thieves to infiltrate the castle of an evil cult, which is under heavy guard and houses two ancient crowns containing precious gems. The key he retrieved in the underground cave will be of particular use as it plays a part in retrieving the gems, but the real challenge for he and his band of thieves will be avoiding being caught or killed while getting into the castle. Little do they know that getting to the crowns is only the beginning of their problems.
Grading scales are difficult to apply to something like Treasure of the Four Crowns, as well as its predecessor Comin’ at Ya!. Their plots are nonsensical and events occur only to facilitate the throwing or jutting of various props at the camera. And for that, you get exactly what you paid for. It’s far from boring—breaking in and sneaking into the castle along the rafters without making much sound is even thrilling at times, but there’s hardly a moment when there’s not something protruding into the camera. The opening and closing scenes especially are complete mayhem, but spoiling what happens at the end would do the experience of seeing the film an injustice. Even the trailer gives away too much. In short, Treasure of the Four Crowns is a hoot.
Treasure of the Four Crowns was shot by cinematographers Marcello Masciocchi and Giuseppe Ruzzolini on 35 mm film using the Marks 3-Depix StereoSpace Converter single-strip 3D camera system, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents 3-D Film Archive’s new restorations of the film in three separate presentations: polarized 3D, anaglyph 3D, and normal 2D—all on the same disc.
Because of the film’s somewhat imperfect 3D nature, plenty of restoration work had to be performed to get it into viewable shape. The original left and right eye elements featured multiple instances of misalignment, as well as frequent damage and dirt. The final presentations still contain scratches and speckling baked in from when the elements were originally struck, but every effort has been made to get each as clean and precise as possible. The 2D presentation is soft with crush and heavy grain, and more prominently features the aforementioned leftover damage. This includes minor speckling and scratches, as well occasional lines running through the frame. Saturation is good, as well.
The star of the show, the polarized 3D, is very satisfying. It should be noted that the better your equipment is to view it and putting the right amount of distance between you and your monitor or screen, the better the results will be. Depth is quite good, but the star of the show is the variety of objects being tossed at or pushed into the camera lenses. They go a bit too far in places, which renders the 3D ineffective and causes ghosting, but the arrows, fireballs, spears, and other items work splendidly the majority of the time. Saturation is even better here, and each eye has it’s share of leftover damage, but almost never at the same time.
The anaglyph 3D version of the film, which features 3-D Film Archive's exclusive Adaptive Multi-Band Anaglyphic Encoding process, is particularly good. In fact, some of the more extreme 3D effects work better in this format (at least for me). As is per usual with 3-D Film Archive’s anaglyph presentations, it fares much better than most of its type. It's certainly superior to any version seen in the past. But more importantly, it provides everyone who purchases this release a way to experience the film the way that it was intended, even without access to modern 3D technology.
Audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. The 5.1 track doesn't offer much in terms of dynamics, but it spreads the soundtrack out well enough. Dialogue is a little too quiet during the initial break-in scene, but it’s otherwise fine. Separation for sound effects and score is decent, giving Ennio Moricone good support.
The Blu-ray 3D disc of Treasure of the Four Crowns sits in a blue amaray case with an insert featuring the film’s theatrical poster artwork, as well as a single pair of anaglyph 3D glasses. Everything is housed within an insert featuring the same artwork. The following extras are included, all in HD:
- Audio Commentary with Jason Pichonsky
- Audio Interview with Tony Anthony by Douglas Hosdale (44:24)
- Theatrical Trailer (1:59)
In the audio commentary featuring film historian and self-professed Tony Anthony fan Jason Pichonsky, he delves into the production of the film, but more importantly, Anthony’s career. He also covers Ennio Morricone’s score, various members of the cast and crew, and bits of production info. He dips out occasionally, but mostly spends the commentary reeling off a surplus of information. Filmmaker Douglas Hosdale interviews Tony Anthony in an audio-only session, asking him questions about his career and the films that he was involved with. Last is the theatrical trailer in 2D. Not carried over from Shout! Factory's DVD release of the film is an audio commentary with Russell Dyball.
Treasure of the Four Crowns is a wild and nonsensical film. Watching it in 2D is pointless because its plot is pretty useless. But seeing it 3D, whether it’s polarized or anaglyphic, definitively delivers. If you’re a fan of 3D at home or otherwise, this is another essential purchase from 3-D Film Archive and Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons