Warner Archives has brought forth one of the more sought after cult movies to DVD, and that movie is DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE. Doc Savage was one of many pulp heroes who had his very own magazine during the 1930s and 1940s. He was created by publisher Henry Ralston and editor John Nanovic at Street and Smith Publications, with additional material contributed by the series’ main writer, Lester Dent. The character also had an eight-issue series in Marvel Comics in 1972. Not long after that, a movie would be made that was produced by the one and only George Pal (THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE TIME MACHINE) and directed by Michael Anderson (AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS, LOGAN'S RUN).
Former TV “Tarzan” Ron Ely plays a perfectly-cast Doc Savage, an adventurer, hero and scientist doing various things to save the world. Doc Savage lives in the Fortress of Solitude in the Artic and has a team called the Fabulous Five: Johnny (Eldon Quick), Ham (Darrell Zwerling), Renny (William Lucking, who was in two episodes of “The Incredible Hulk” TV series), Monk (Michel Miller) and Long Tom (Paul Gleason). Together the bunch of them go off to Hidalgo, South America to discover what really happened to Doc "Clark" Savage, the hero’s missionary father who recently died there.
The adventure starts with a native from South America trying to kill Doc in New York, where he first gets together with his Fabulous Five who inform him that his father succumbed to a tropical disease - Doc Savage’s empathic senses tell him that it was murder. From there they continue their journey to Hildago via cargo ship and run into the villainous Captain Seas (Paul Wexler, THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE) who tries to kill them all. They escape, and ultimately wind up in the jungle where they encounter a large boiling vat of Incan gold. The Fabulous Five have to fight off the “green death” which is magic potion using snake venom to make unworldly glowing snakes which gnaw you until you die horribly. Doc Savage thwarts Capt. Seas’ plans of being the richest and most powerful person in the world in some of the most amazing, campy fights scenes; quite hilarious and really clever. Doc of course saves the world!
The story, fighting scenes and dialog are all more or less done tongue in cheek, blending 1970s comedy with super heroism. Basically it is like Captain America meets Monty Python (with a bit of inspiration from the 1960s “Batman” TV series thrown in). There is also a minor love interest for the titular hero as well as a memorable quote, “There is no room in my life for love.” In addition to that, Michael Berryman, Pluto from THE HILLS HAVE EYES can be seen as a Coroner. And the narrator of the movie is none other than the legendary Paul Frees. He was uncredited in this which happened on occasion when he did narration (his voice can be heard in the U.S. versions of GODZILLA and RODAN, THE BEATNIKS and THE TIME MACHINE to name a few). DOC SAVAGE bombed at the box office in the summer of '75 and received poor reviews, but the movie has a decent-sized cult following and now fans can rejoice as Warner Brothers has released a great DVD of it.
Throw away your VHS (if you still have it), as the DVD has a fantastic 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The colors are very vivid and the images are very crisp. It looks as clear and clean as I’ve ever seen it. Film grain was minimal as the negative seems to have held up pretty well over the years. Night scenes were easily discernible, but the daytime scenes are just as beautiful and fans can really rejoice over the transfer. The audio - Dolby 2.0 mono - is very clear, with the music and sound effects coming off louder than the dialogue, but I didn't have to adjust my volume to exaggerated levels to hear it. Also included is the original theatrical trailer.
Final thoughts: to all the fans who have wanted this on Region 1 DVD in the USA, your wait is over. Between the transfer being very acceptable and the die hard fans who have waited forever to own this on DVD, this is easily highly recommended. Warner Archives' DVD-R collection has done a very credible job. Now having said that, I feel now is the time to finally release a few more Warner obscurities such as DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING, DEMON OF PARADISE and THE GREEN SLIME - be it from Warner Archives or on commercial retail DVD. EDITOR'S NOTE: These screen images were not captured in the usual style and therefore don't necessarily give an accurate depiction of the video quality of this DVD. For more information on The Warner Archive Collection, visit www.warnerarchive.com. (David Steigman)
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