DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "The Love Bug" Special Edition (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, May 7, 2003.

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    The Love Bug
    Special Edition






    Studio: Walt Disney
    Year: 1968
    Rated: G
    Film Length: 108 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.75:1)
    Subtitles: English




    It's a Love-in for Herbie... the incredible
    little car who shifts for himself!



    I don't know why that it took me all these years
    to finally watch Walt Disney's The Love Bug.
    I would suppose that I had convinced myself that
    this was a film I would never enjoy, and thus, I
    totally removed myself from Herbie, the self-racing
    Beetle and his career that spanned 5 films. Little
    did I know that one day I would be faced doing a
    review of the DVD.

    [​IMG]

    Racing driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones)is a
    derby car crash racer down on his luck, with
    nobody willing to sponsor him. While visiting
    the car showroom of Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson),
    Jim discovers the car of his dreams that unfortunately
    he cannot afford. Before leaving the showroom,
    a Volkswagen suddenly appears, takes a liking to,
    him and follows him home. To escape prosecution
    by Thorndyke for grand theft auto, Jim is forced
    to buy the Volkswagen and soon finds that the car
    is acting with a mind of his own. His mechanic and
    roommate Tennessee Steinmetz is the only person
    that realizes that Herbie, the car, is alive.
    Douglas enters the car in races and soon finds
    that he and Herbie are becoming rising stars in
    the circuit. Thorndyke becomes jealous of Herbie's
    success and becomes determined to sabotage the
    little car. Fortunately, Douglas has caught the
    eye of Carol (Michele Lee), a sympathetic auto
    salesperson who also happens to be an automobile
    fanatic.

    [​IMG]

    While doing a little background research on this
    film, I was surprised to find the amazing history
    of the film's director, Robert Stevenson. Here is
    a man who has directed every major Disney live-action
    film from 1957 on through 1976. His credits include
    such films Old Yeller, The Absent Minded Professor,
    Mary Poppins, The Shaggy D.A.
    and Bedknobs
    and Broomsticks
    . Many of these films are personal
    favorites of mine, and thus, I can see why I enjoyed
    watching The Love Bug. Not only is this film
    full of good ol' solid Disney magic -- but it also
    provides a sort of window into the late sixties
    period and its hippie peace-touting culture (most
    evident in the film's first street race).

    [​IMG]

    Watching this movie, I couldn't help but identify
    with the film's underlying message of a car searching
    for acceptance and identity through its owner, only
    to face initial rejection. In the end, the car and
    its owner learn to depend upon each other, and thus,
    a valuable lesson of life is learned. The moral?
    Don't take people and things for granted.


    How is the transfer?


    In general The Love Bug is a very pleasing
    transfer. The print is in good condition, though
    there does seem to be a rather high blemish count.
    I was very pleased with this Technicolor presentation.
    Colors are faithfully reproduced and flesh tones look
    quite natural. The majority of the film looks terrific
    and mostly, the picture is crystal clear. There are
    some problems here that I don't blame on the transfer,
    but the ability of the DVD format to magnify defects
    that were part of the print itself. For example,
    there are several locational, effects and closeup
    shots that look pretty bad. They come at many
    intervals during the course of the film, and you
    can't help but be disturbed by these shots that
    look either abundantly grainy or slightly out of
    focus. Fortunately, the rest of this transfer looks
    so good, you can easily forgive these small problems.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The film has been remixed for a 5.1 Dolby Digital
    presentation. The results are rather mixed. While
    dialogue is very strong in the center channel, it
    does manage to bleed through the fronts. Stereo
    separation is very good -- especially with the
    film's music soundtrack that seems to place itself
    across the entire three front channels. The rears
    don't seem to have much activity here, although
    occasionally you'll hear an effect noise thrown
    in or a bit of music wraparound. Despite the fact
    the audio has some dynamic limitations, it sounds
    rather good here.


    Special Features


    Disney has given The Love Bug their coveted
    2-disc Special Edition treatment. There's a treasure
    chest of material to be found here, so let me waste
    no more of your time and get straight to it....

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Disc One contains the entire feature
    presented in a widescreen anamorphic ratio of
    1.75:1.

    The good news is that Disney has reunited the
    film's major stars - Dean Jones, Buddy Hackett and
    Michele Lee - for a full-length audio commentary.
    The bad news is that Lee's commentary has been
    recorded separately from that of the Hackett and Jones
    teaming. This is a shame, because all of the
    participants offer loads of personality to this
    commentary, and having them all in one room together
    would have made for some hilarious ad-libbing. Jones
    and Hackett are quite enjoyable here, cleverly
    playing off each other. They take us through many
    of the film's locales, carefully pointing out what
    is real and what is matte painted. They also talk
    about the many versions of the Herbie car that were
    used in the film (Jones still owns the original trick
    car). At one point during this commentary, Jones
    tells a story about meeting the late James Cagney
    and that story rolls into many more where both
    actors talk about some of the Hollywood legends
    that they have worked with. Michele Lee shows a
    lot of spunk in this track. She gives us the
    lowdown on how Herbie was magically able to ride
    without a driver. She also talks about her wardrobe
    and the Disney rules of "kissing" and "fighting"
    onscreen. From the moments of this commentary that
    I sampled, I found it to be a highly energetic and
    enjoyable listen.

    Most welcomed here is the cartoon Susie -
    The Little Blue Coupe
    , an automotive riches
    to rags story. The cartoon is presented full frame.


    Let's move on to Disc Two....


    In the same manner of 20,000 Leagues Under The
    Sea
    , the DVD begins with a wonderful animated
    sequence that places you in an elevator taking you
    to the lower depths of Disney's film vaults. Once
    you pass the doors that guard The Love Bug
    vault, you find yourself in a small screening room
    that you can navigate through left and right, using
    your remote.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    That Lovable Bug is a wonderful little
    featurette that reunites the cast for a trip down
    memory lane. It begins with actor Dean Jones talking
    about a car story script he personally handed
    Walt Disney. Walt loved the script, but thought that
    he could put a slightly different spin on it.
    Unfortunately, it seems that Walt had died before
    the film could be put into production, and it was
    actually the team that came in during the studio's
    transitional phase that went forward with the
    script. If you can believe this, there was actually
    a casting call to find the right car to represent
    Herbie. With a dozen different cars to choose from,
    it was the crew members on the Disney lot that chose
    the Volkswagen. How did Herbie get its name? It
    was actually derived from a joke that comedian
    Buddy Hackett told. How about the number 53? Well,
    it is thought it has to do something with the Pitcher
    for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The rest of the
    featurette gives us background on the film's
    cast members and its timid director, Robert Stevenson.
    You'll also be taken through the film's premier
    and successful aftermath. In addition, there are
    lots of zany stories from the cast and crew about
    filming this movie. A real treat to watch!
    (length: approx. 43 minutes)

    [​IMG]

    The many lives of Herbie is a fun little
    featurette that gives us a history of the VW's
    career through 5 films, including a look at the
    various cast members and car stunts. Most
    interesting here is the Herbie Day Parade that was
    held at Disneyland in March 1969. Home Video
    footage shows a swamp of VW entries that must be
    seen to be believed!
    (length: approx. 13 minutes)

    [​IMG]

    Herbie Mania puts us in touch with fans
    who have purchased their own Volkswagens and touched
    them up to resemble the original "53" mobile. You'll
    have the opportunity to see these replications and
    hear why they have brought so much happiness to
    their owners.
    (length: approx. 6 minutes)

    Lost Treasures: Searching for Herbie takes
    us through the many incarnations of The Lovebug.
    Though the car was originally a 1963 ragtop sunroof
    sedan Volkswagen, its style and colors changed
    slightly over its film career.
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)

    Let's go to The Love Bug Production Archives...

    [​IMG]

    Here you'll find still galleries filled with
    Production Photos, conceptual art and
    various storyboards. You can also browse
    through pages of the original comic book.
    Use your remote to leisurely browse through these
    images.

    [​IMG]

    More still galleries provide a look at posters,
    merchandise, film premiere stills
    and press
    book clippings
    .

    There are extensive Biographies for actors
    Dean Jones, Michele Lee, Buddy Hackett, David
    Tomlinson and director Robert Stevenson. These
    biographies don't just provide film credits --
    they tell stories of that individual's career.

    In addition to an original Radio spot, there
    are two sound studios, Herbie on the Rocks
    and Thorndyke and the Bear that allow you
    to dissect various layers of audio that make up
    the final composite of a scene.

    A Production Gallery provides a montage of
    storyboards, film and behind-the-scenes stills set
    to the movie's whimsical soundtrack.
    (length: approx. 2.5 minutes)

    [​IMG]

    Imagine this! An original 1969 Behind-The-Scenes-
    Promo
    that shows how the film was promoted in
    theaters. Reconstructed from surviving footage,
    this is a rather interesting watch.
    (length: approx. 4 minutes)

    [​IMG]

    Love Bug Day at Disneyland takes us back to
    March 1969 where hundreds of Volkswagen "bugs" from
    all over the country came to the theme park to be
    part of a grand parade. Come see all the entries!
    (length: approx. 12 minutes)

    [​IMG]

    The man who gave Herbie his voice takes
    us through the creation of various sounds for the
    Herbie films. You'll be amazed at the workings of
    Disney's top sound designer, Jimmy McDonald, who
    takes us through his warehouse of devices used to
    create sounds. You'll also have the privilege of
    seeing clips from classic cartoons that many of
    McDonald's sound designs made famous. Cool!
    (length: approx. 8 minutes)

    Two deleted scenes are presented here.
    Used Car Lot is an extension scene where
    Jim visits a Used Car lot. Playground is
    an addition to the film's ending where our
    race-winning heroes discover Herbie playing
    across the street with a bunch of kids. Since
    footage of these scenes no longer exist, the
    scenes are told through storyboards, surviving
    stills, and text script.

    Finally, the film's Theatrical Trailer
    is included here.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    It's sort of funny that The Love Bug went
    from being a film I had avoided for many years to
    a DVD I am placing on the Highly Recommended list.

    This film is simple fun entertainment that will
    satisfy the entire family. On the same token, with
    all the never-before-seen extras, this DVD is a
    dream-come-true for fans everywhere.

    Another outstanding 2-disc release from Disney.


    Release Date: May 20, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review Ron, I had forgotten about this release, so I will be getting this and 20000 Leagues at the same time

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Jim-M

    Jim-M Second Unit

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    Thanks for the review Ron. I ordered this a few days ago and am looking forward to enjoying it with family. I'm hoping they enjoy it as much as I did when I saw it in the theater during its initial run.
     
  4. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Looks like loads of fun. Thanks for the Review Ron!

    dave [​IMG]
     
  5. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Good Review Ron. I'm glad you enjoyed the film. It looks like a great set with lots of extras. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully the sequals will follow with decent transfers, although personally I would only buy the 1st two sequals: Herbie Rides Again and Herbie goes to Monte Carlo.
     
  6. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    I remember being a little kid wasthing an old scratchy rented copy of the Love Bug, or our recorded copy of Herbie Goes Bananas (with notable skips where I paused for commercial breaks). Will be great to finally see this movie again now that I'm old enough to remember it, and in widescreen. This is the great thing about DVD, just like with my GBA, it's a chance to finally revisit my memories from my childhood. With my GBA it's all the old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games that I went to a neighbor's house to play and never actually beat, as my parents wouldn't elt me have one. With DVD it's watching all my favorite movies again when I'm old enough to understand them, and pick up on things I never did before (watching Roger Rabbit as an adult instead of a kid a couple months ago was shocking at all the dirty jokes I'd missed).

    This one and 20k Leagues are mine on street date.
     
  7. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
    Supporter

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    i cant wait one of my most lioved films when i was a kid, along with 20,000 leagues.
     
  8. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I also grew up with the Herbie movies and in my case I saw them during their initial theatrical runs whilst growing up in Australia. Herbie The Love Bug is a good movie but I think Disney really went all out in terms of car stunts with Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes Bananas and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. It's a great series of movies to watch, especially for car lovers because the movies feature a lot of classic cars.

    I wish I had the money to get a new off-white VW just so I can put a racing stripe down the middle and a 53 on the hood! [​IMG]
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    I can't wait to get this and 20,000 leagues. I bought all four of the two disc sets (Pollyanna, Swiss Family, Old Yeller, & Parent Trap) last May and my only regrets about this years crop is that there are only TWO! I was hoping that Treasure Island and Apple Dumpling Gang would have gotten similar treatments.

    Adam
     
  10. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    I was such a young lad when this came out...but remember it fondly when it made it's run on The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday evenings. Great fun and I'm all over this one! [​IMG] Nice review Ron.
     
  11. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    Thanks for reviewing this title, Ron. I'll be picking this and 20,000 leagues up on street date.
     
  12. Tony Scello

    Tony Scello Second Unit

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    Thanks for the great review Ron. This is by far my 5 year old son's favorite movie. He watches the rather crappy VHS version of this film almost every day. We recently saw one of the VW Beetles used in "Herbie Goes Bananas" in a Planet Hollywood and it was if he had died and gone to heaven. I'm looking foward to replacing that dreadful VHS tape with, what looks to be, another outstanding Disney DVD package.
     
  13. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

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    Hmmm, you might have motivated me to watch this. I never cared for Herbie, just like did before me. But this might change things once I pick this dvd up. And great review Ron, it a pity you must end these soon. [​IMG]
     
  14. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    I recall the laughter of thousands of people in Radio City Music Hall in NYC, where I saw THE LOVE BUG in 1969. A fond memory of this film.

    Yes, I agree it's quite sad about Ron foregoing reviews--he should select one or two special titles per month.
     
  15. John Kilduff

    John Kilduff Screenwriter

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    I'm definitely getting this DVD...

    I'm a life-long fan of Herbie. I first saw this film when I was about 5 or 6 years old, and I was hooked on everything from the demolition derby at the beginning to the final race hither, thither and yon.

    I even have an autographed photo of Dean Jones in character (He wrote a nice greeting, mentioned my name, and [this was probably because my Mom sent it to his address, so she told him] it ended with him signing "Herbie says Hi, too")

    Sincerely,

    John Kilduff...

    What was that musical Jones did..."Company"? I may have to look into that soundtrack.
     
  16. Rob T

    Rob T Screenwriter

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    This will be mine. [​IMG]
     
  17. Christian Preischl

    Christian Preischl Screenwriter

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    John,

     
  18. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

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    This sounds great. My only worry is that after seeing it I might be jonesing for more Dean Jones Disney nostalgia and be tempted to pick-up the "foolscreen" DVD of "Snowball Express". I will try to resist. [​IMG]

    Regards,
     
  19. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    From the Believe it or Not, According to Variety (Jan 1970), "The Love Bug" was the top grossing film for 1969
     
  20. Greg Stanford

    Greg Stanford Auditioning

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    Thanks for the great review Ron!!!!

    I can't wait to pick this one up. I saw this as a child at a drive-in out here in Southern California.


    Looking forward to your next "Love Bug" review!!!!

    [​IMG]
     

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