New Disney Live Action Releases - Apple Dumpling Gang & Witch Mountains

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Through the kindness of strangers, I was able to get a look at the forthcoming DVDs of "The Apple Dumpling Gang", "Escape to Witch Mountain", and "Return from Witch Mountain" a few days early. They are all essentially single disc versions of "Vault Disney" SEs. The extras are scaled back slightly compared to the 2-disc SEs (e.g. no trailers), but they keep the same menu structures, include retrospective documentaries and audio commentaries, include the "Disney [year]" featurettes, and also some of the additional and less obvious featurettes (e.g. "Lost Treasures").

    I've only watched the first two listed in their entirety. "Apple Dumpling Gang" is a very good transfer. Shadow detail is a little wanting, but it pretty much looks like I remember it. "Escape to Witch Mountain" doesn't fare quite as well. The contrast is extremely high. This could have something to do with its relatively low budget and/or the many optical effects. In any case, it has always looked like this (or worse) on home video.

    All are "1.75:1" anamorphic widescreen with new 5.1 soundtracks (which don't deviate too much from their mono origins).

    More later..., but if your penchant for Disney nostalgia extends to 70s live action fare, these are pretty safe purchases.

    Regards,
     
  2. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Could a kind moderator please fix the spelling of "Dumpling" in the subject header?

    Thanks!
     
  3. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    Damn. Sad to see Di$ney once again failed to plant trailers on the DVD of the movie itself. I always wondered how exactly the "witch mountain" movies were marketed.

    Still picked both of those up anyways. [​IMG]
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Your dumpling has been edited.

    By the way....

    I bought Escape From Witch Mountain. Have
    never seen Apple Dumpling Gang. Is this a
    film I would enjoy as an adult? I know many of us
    first saw it at a younger age and are buying it
    based on impressiosn at that time.
     
  5. Thomas Hart

    Thomas Hart Stunt Coordinator

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    Just got done watching "Apple" and "Escape" ("Return" was mangled at the store by what seems like an over-zealous stockboy and his boxcutter, so I passed), and other than everything on one disc, I can't tell the difference in quality or quantity from the previous Vault Disney discs.

    I've read/heard that the trailers were hidden as easter eggs on the discs, but if they are, then they are damn well hidden (cause I sure couldn't find them).

    The audio commentaries on both aren't too bad. "Apple" has Tim Conway & Don Knotts recorded separately from Susan Clark & Brad Savage and then spliced together. Tim Conway pretty much steals the show with Don Knotts simply laughing at Tim most of the time, while Brad sort of moderates Susan on. But by far, the funniest extra on the "Apple" DVD is the Conversations w/ Tim Conway. His recollections on "The Shaggy D.A. are priceless. For 70 years old, I'm amazed at how funny he still is.

    As for the "Escape" commentary, again Ike Eisenman & Kim Richards are recorded separately from director John Hough. Hough's comments are very informative, if not a tad on the dry side, while the other two give a more laid back approach to the proceedings. And it's nice to see Kim Richards again in the documentary, still looking as attractive as ever.

    Documentaries on both discs last roughly 25m each, and it's really cool to see what all the kids look like and what they have been up to over the years. The only weird thing on the discs is the section called LOST TREASURES. Specifically since the material isn't something lost or old, but are short, newly created featurettes with new interviews with occasional snippets of Disney films thrown in.

    But hey, I'm just happy to FINALLY have OAR special editions of live-action Disney films from the 70's. Now here's hoping for "Freaky Friday" (The original), "Gus", and "The World's Greatest Athlete" to get the same treatment.

    Oh, and Ron, if you are in to classic comedy teams, Tim Conway and Don Knotts are extremely funny together. And "The Apple Dumpling Gang" is one of their best films together, especially the ladder scene!
     
  6. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Thanks all, for the comments. These are all on my "buy" list...

    -Scott
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I watched "Return from Witch Mountain" this afternoon. I was a bit concerned while watching the opening titles, but as soon as they ended, the transfer looked pretty darn good for the rest of the film. The credits had two or three layers of opticals to cover special effects plus the titles themselves, so the accumulated grain and contrast made it look pretty grungy. Once the credits are over, contrast is still a little higher and shadow detail a bit down compared to most modern productions, but that's pretty much how I remember it always looking.

    Overall, the transfer is at least on par with and maybe slightly better than "The Apple Dumpling Gang", and a definite improvement over its predecessor. Story-wise, it doesn't hold up to the original, but its fun to see the characters back in action. It's also fun to see Denver Pyle with his "Uncle Jesse" beard which he didn't have in the first film. [​IMG]

    To answer Ron's question, I liked all of these films as a kid, and watching them again as an adult, I would say "The Apple Dumpling Gang" held up the best. It was funnier than I expected it to be. It definitely has a formula plot where the quirky cute kids win over the confirmed bachelor who in turn falls for the tough woman with the soft heart (if the outcome were ever in doubt, I suppose the former would constitute spoilers, but it isn't so they aren't [​IMG]), but the writers hold off the inevitable for as long as possible which keeps it from getting too gooey. As Thomas mentioned, the comic relief provided by Tim Conway and Don Knotts is first-rate.

    Regards,
     
  8. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

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    I have just now come around to watching these discs, but I haven't been able to find the easter egg trailers. I read on another thread that the first Witch Mountain trailer can be found on the vault screen (where you can choose the scrapbook) and pressing 6. How about the other Witch movie, and is there also a trailer on the Apple Dumpling Gang disc?
     

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