The Love Bug (Remastered) (1969)

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Released 21-Jul-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Dean Jones, Michele Lee And Buddy Hackett (Actors)
Featurette-That Loveable Bug
Deleted Scenes-Used Car Lot, Playground
Featurette-Herbie Mania
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 103:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Stevenson
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Dean Jones
Michele Lee
David Tomlinson
Buddy Hackett
Joe Flynn
Benson Fong
Andy Granatelli
Joe E. Ross
Iris Adrian
Ned Glass
Robert Foulk
Gil Lamb
Barry Kelley
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music George Bruns


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Can there be anyone who does not look at a Volkswagen Beetle and immediately think of Herbie from The Love Bug? In one of the rare cases of an object becoming an instant part of popular culture, Disney worked its magic on a piece of metal in 1969 and turned a 1963 Volkswagen into a film star with heart, guts, and all-round charm that won over many fans then and still does more than 30 years later. Disney has recently re-released The Love Bug as part of a four-disc box set which includes the other three Herbie films in addition to a few extras.

    In this, the first film in the series, Dean Jones is Jim Douglas, a nearly down-and-out racing car driver who seems to constantly crash and lose all the big races to the up-and-coming younger guys. After his most recent crash he starts looking for a new set of wheels. Having very little money makes purchasing a new car worthy of racing a little difficult. Passing a swanky showroom filled with European imports, Jim's eyes are first attracted to the shapely legs of sales assistant Carole (Michele Lee) and then by the shiny lines of a new sports car. But haughty owner Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson) will have nothing to do with Jim since he has no intention of purchasing and shows him the door.

     In a moment of pure luck, or fate, just as Jim is about to leave the showroom, he notices a small VW Beetle that has seemingly snuck into the showroom. Enchanted by the car, yet still unable to afford it, Jim leaves the showroom, not realising the little car has actually followed him home. Accused of stealing the car by Thorndyke, Jim somewhat reluctantly agrees to buy the little car, even though he really has no need of something so slow and hardly worthy of being called a race car.

    But Jim's housemate, the spiritual Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett), instantly feels there is something special about the little car and dubs it Herbie. Jim isn't so sure about the merits of the car but when he takes it for a drive and finds it basically drives itself he is completely mystified. It can also move very, very fast, so Jim decides to enter Herbie into the various car races around the San Francisco area, which proves an instant success. Jim thinks (at least at first) that it is his driving that is resulting in the wins, but Tennessee (and eventually Jim) knows otherwise - this is a very special little car.

    Of course Thorndyke, who in addition to owning the car showroom also races himself, is completely flabbergasted that he let this car go to Jim for such a low price. He hatches an evil plan to get the car back. He recruits his assistant Carole to befriend Jim and try to discover just what makes this VW so successful. Carole agrees, but she is already falling for Jim romantically and may not be much use to Thorndyke.

    After some wheeling and dealing, the ownership of the car will all come down to the manic and gruelling two-day El Dorado car race in which Herbie is entered. Will he triumph? Will Jim finally see just how special this car is? Or will Thorndyke win the day yet again?

    The stars of this film all play their roles to comic perfection, but of course the real star is Herbie. In a case of Disney magic, a little music, a few special effects (which do seem really dated now) and some cute lines of dialogue have made a piece of metal and a few nuts and bolts into something far more human. Herbie has heart, he is charming, and you just can't help but fall for him.

    If you have never seen this classic, try and get a chance to. I promise, you will never, ever look at a VW Beetle the same way again.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a really lovely transfer. It is not without its faults, but overall there can be no dispute that this is the best The Love Bug has ever looked.

    Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.75:1, it is also 16x9 enhanced. This is of course a major improvement over the original pan & scan Region 4 release.

    Overall this is a sharp enough transfer given the age of the material. Some shots are considerably softer than others, but these are few and far between. This is most notable with the B-roll or second unit shots such as the various car races. The opening demolition derby scene is incredibly grainy and fuzzy, but once the real action starts it looks sensational. There is one scene between 61:40 - 62:00 during a Chinese street parade that is incredibly blurry, but thankfully this is a once-off. Shadow detail is exceptional and grain is basically non-existent. There is no low level noise.

    The colours on offer here are superb. They are fully saturated and solid with no obvious bleeding problems. The primary colours, especially the reds, really jump off the screen.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, and aliasing has been eliminated completely. There are a few film artefacts but not nearly as many as I anticipated. They are all small, fleeting and really not at all disruptive.

    There are only two subtitle streams, both being English. I sampled them extensively during the audio commentary and found them excellent and highly accurate.

    This is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change occurs at 76:41 and was handled a little clumsily on my player. The very last word of the dialogue from the scene was clipped.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally recorded in mono, this transfer has seen the inclusion of a remastered English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s. Rounding out the selection is a Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track.

    Don't expect a whole lot of aggressive surround channel action, or even plenty of left and right directional panning across the front speakers. This whole soundtrack is anchored firmly in the centre channel with only a little bit of the miscellaneous effects popping out the left and right channels. That's not to say it's a disappointment, as the major benefit this track has over the original mono recording is just how much cleaner it sounds. There is no background hiss or distortion and the dialogue has been cleaned up remarkably well, so it really shines. There are some audio sync problems on occasion, all the result of sub-standard ADR looping.

    The original and whimsical score is by George Bruns. It is instantly recognisable and mirrors Herbie's personality very well, with shades of 60s hippy pyschedelia thrown in.

    As mentioned, there is basically no surround channel use, and likewise the subwoofer sees little action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Menu Audio

Audio Commentary - Dean Jones, Buddy Hackett, and Michele Lee (Cast)

    This is actually two separate commentaries that have been spliced together. Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett are together as they watch the film, while Michele Lee's comments have been added in from a separate source. This doesn't really affect the quality of what is a real nostalgia-filled commentary. A lot has happened to all the cast since 1969 and they reminisce about plenty. Lots of interesting Hollywood anecdotes and other little bits of background information are made available in what is a relaxed and fun commentary.

Featurette - That Loveable Bug

    A 43:19 featurette made this year (obviously just before the death of Buddy Hackett, who died in June 2003). This is a great nostalgic look at the production and features extensive interviews with the three main surviving cast members (Dean Jones, Michelle Lee, and Hackett) in addition to many of the other people involved in the film. Heaps of behind-the-scene photos and other historical bits and pieces make this an incredibly worthwhile addition.

Deleted Scenes

    There are two deleted scenes, but calling them 'scenes' is a little bit misleading. You see, neither of them have survived intact, and in fact only the scene 'Used Car Lot' was actually shot, while the other, 'Playground', is just a series of storyboards. Both are shown as a series of either photos or storyboards above the actual script. Used Car Lot runs for 1:10, while Playground runs for 1:02.

Featurette - Herbie Mania  

    This is a 5:54 featurette that has an interview with two owners of Herbie look-a-likes. These two guys are incredibly passionate about The Love Bug and have each completely restored a 1963 Beetle to look just like the original Herbie. Fascinating and slightly scary at the same time.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Love Bug has been released as a two-disc special edition in Region 1 and more importantly is available as a standalone disc. There are also quite a significant number of differences with the Region 4 release (which can only be purchased as part of a recently released four-disc box set).

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on;

    Obviously the Region 1 disc is a clear winner here.

Summary

    The Love Bug is a family classic. The story just oozes charm in the way only a Disney film can. Herbie is of course the star, and young and old will find something to smile about in this story.

    This remastered disc features a solid, colourful, and mostly artefact free transfer.

    The remastered audio is clean and crisp, but hardly worthy of a 5.1 tag.

    The extras are few, but are of decent quality. Unfortunately, compared to the Region 1 release, they do not stack up.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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