Release Date(s)1975 (November 1, 2016)
Studio(s)Warner Home Video (Archive Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: D-
If I believed in having guilty pleasures, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze would certainly be among them. When it was first released in 1975, it was poorly received by critics. Many felt that it wasn’t a very good representation of the character, as portrayed in the original pulp novels by Lester Dent and Harold A. Davis. However, one can’t deny that Ron Ely is irresistible in the lead role, even if he isn’t entirely right for it. Directed by Michael Anderson, who also helmed Logan’s Run and Around the World in 80 Days, and produced by the great George Pal, it remains a charming movie despite its failure at the box office.
A predecessor to both Buckaroo Banzai and Austin Powers, Doc Savage attempts to be campy at times yet fairly straight at others. The various side characters and oddball dialogue exchanges, mixed together with a very simplistic adventure plot, make it a fun piece of material nonetheless. It’s akin to the Batman TV show from the 1960s, in that many of the kids who saw it likely didn’t pick up on the camp until later in life. There are definitely things here that don’t work, including the special effects, most of the performances, and some of the set pieces, but it’s still an enticing movie. I certainly wouldn’t make a case for it as some sort of lost classic, but I’m glad the film has had a life beyond its poor initial critique and box office take.
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze is also a movie that’s always looked a bit soft due to the use of opticals. That said, Warner’s newly-struck transfer from the original interpositive yields a beautiful presentation of the film. Grain is well-resolved, with strong levels of detail in non-optical shots, especially apparent in close-ups and costumes. Colors are nicely reproduced, with strong hues and excellent skin tones, while black levels are deep with nice shadow detailing. This is a stable transfer as well that appears relatively free of obvious negative damage. The English 2.0 DTS-HD audio track included here features dialogue that is cleanly-presented with adequate sound effects and score. Overdubbing doesn’t stand out too badly and there’s some good dynamic moments from time to time. It’s not a perfect track, but it is appropriate for the overall presentation. There are also optional subtitles available in English SDH and the disc includes the theatrical trailer in HD.
Having Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze on Blu-ray is very exciting. Most of us, who are fans of the movie, already owned Warner’s previous Archive Collection DVD and long hoped the title would get a high def upgrade at some point. Perhaps we can now hope for some additional behind the scenes material about the making and release of the film. For now, though, this is an excellent HD presentation of the movie that’s definitely worth seeking out.
- Tim Salmons