2021 THE FILM DETECTIVE
LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY
THE OVERALL PACKAGE:
This is an extremely nice package. First, this is a pressed/stamped disc, not burned. The lithography on the disc itself is the same as the colorful, fun case-insert artwork. And it comes with a nice 10-page glossy booklet that regales the reader with behind-the-scenes stories about the film's creation process.
The special features include the original movie trailer, but more interestingly, two insightful interviews. One is with Gary Crutcher, who played the young Charlie Brown. That interview is excellent.
The other is with film historian C. Courtney Joyner covering the background of Bob Steele, and it's importance to the success of this film. That, too, was highly interesting and well done.
THE HD TRANSFER:
Simply put, Criterion has nothing on this disc. The picture is refreshingly clean, clear, and crisp, as is the audio, which is strong, even, and just plain natural sounding. It is as though I was seeing the film in its very first run back in 1958 on the local big screen. It is virtually perfect in every way. I had to purposely watch like a hawk for the occasional, fleeting slight imperfection. I was on my third viewing before even noticing a single one. I'd say that is extremely good.
So hats off to The Film Detective for knocking this one out of the park. I wish they get many, many more from this era/genre, and give them the same deluxe treatment and care. (They did a great job with "Eegah!", too, which they also released as a stamped Blu-ray. )
This was the first time I really watched this film, so there's no nostalgia to color my opinion. I had read the premise on Amazon Prime, and it just didn't sound all that alluring. But, I was wrong!
The story was well written, and had a very good flow to it. The casting was excellent. Ed Kemmer as the solid, handsome, very likeable leading man. Bob Steele as the raspy, old sheriff. Morris Ankrum as the wise, old scientist, with Sally Fraser as his daughter and Kemmer's love interest. Even supporting-role actors were very good, like those that portrayed the outspoken cafe owner, and Anne and Charlie Brown. Everyone was solid in their roles.
And let's not forget Buddy Baer playing the dreaded, killer giant. Max Baer, Jr's (Jethro) real-life uncle. Simply put, he was great. And while he was indeed physically intimidating, you could tell he was actually a gentle giant.
My two favorite lines from the film were both delivered by the handsome lead actor Ed Kemmer.
"That man was born with a badge instead of a brain.";
"Where's Charlie Brown?!"
Great movie. Great HD transfer from a phenomenal source. Great overall package. Just plain fun.
Highly recommended for fans of this genre.