Superior DVD Package of a Memorable Film
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 01/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Loosely based on the celebrated novel by Jules Verne and set in the late 19th Century, LEAGUES offers the story of Professor Arronax (Paul Lukas), his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre), and harpooner Ned Land (Kirk Douglas), who are coaxed by the United States government to aid in the search for a sea monster said to be terrorizing shipping lanes. But the monster is not of flesh and blood, and soon the three find themselves in the hands of the mysterious Captain Nemo (James Mason) as prisoners aboard the Nautilus--a fully functional submarine capable of ramming ships and sending them to the ocean floor.Underwater photography was hardly new in 1954, but never had it been used so extensively nor to such visually beautiful effect, and the art designs--particularly those for the Nautilus--are justly celebrated. But for all its beauty, it is the performances which make the film work. James Mason does not merely play Nemo, he seems to be Nemo; after seeing his performance it is impossible to imagine any other actor in the role. Paul Lukas adds yet another brilliantly understated performance to his memorable career, and while Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre are hardly the Ned Land and Conseil of the Verne novel they have surprising chemistry and lend the film considerable dash.At the time of its release, LEAGUES was the single most expensive motion picture ever made (ironically it would loose that dubious distinction later that same year to yet another film featuring James Mason: A STAR IS BORN), and every penny of the money spent shows in the onscreen result. While many of Disney's live-action films are fondly recalled, few have had enduring fame, much less claim to status as art--but LEAGUES is the exception, and although the episodic nature of the story seems a shade languid from time to time it remains both a landmark and one of the most influential films of its decade. Truly enjoyable from start to finish.GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
An amazing special edition of a great classic!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 10/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since I was a child, no other Disney film has captivated me quite like this classic. In my opinion this is one of James Mason's best performances (along with "Odd Man Out") & Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, & Paul Lukas are perfectly cast. Even after 50 years, the special effects are wonderful. I was so excited when this dvd was released because my old vhs copy was worn out. The special features on this dvd are amazing & I've never seen so many documentaries on a special edition before. This is like a "Criterion Collection" dvd of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" at half the cost! The movie has been beautifully restored & you simply won't find a better Disney classic anywhere. I recommend you buy this soon before Disney puts it in their freekin' vault!"
Here's a story about how good this film is
Dave | 03/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I'll say that this is BY FAR the best live-action film Disney ever produced. None of the irritating condescension that characterizes so many Disney films. No -- this film delivers the goods.And my story...?I first saw the film on television as a child. But about ten years ago, I was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen, at a matinee showing in a small-town community theater. The theater was jam-packed with children, ages ranging from about 5 to 10. The kids were chattering like crazy -- the theater was filled with noise. Even when the film started, the kids kept talking.But very slowly, as the minutes passed, the kids got quieter. And quieter.Late in the film, when we're moving into the final explosive climax, the Nautilus rams a warship that has been hunting it. The protagonists -- Aronax, Conseil, and Ned Land -- rush to the sub's giant iris window. The iris opens onto an underwater vista -- to reveal, in the murky blue distance, the warship sinking awesomely, majestically, down to the bottom of the sea -- flames and smoke issuing from its still-burning interior. We can hear the muffled roar of its descent.At that moment in the film, I realized that the audience had become completely silent. They were riveted and awestruck.That, my friends, is great storytelling. Any film that can cause an entire theater-full of 5-10-year-olds to become completely silent, totally rapt with attention, is worthy of praise.As far as I'm concerned, this film is the best thing Disney ever did."
Fantastic Two-Disc DVD!! One of the very best I own!
Erik Morton | Carmel, CA United States | 08/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately for me, I think this is one of those movies where you had to grow up with it in order to truly LOVE it. I didn't grow up with it. That said, it's most definitely a great movie, and a classic in every sense. For a while, it was the most expensive movie ever made, and the first-ever Disney film in Cinemascope. It clearly shows, as the production design is masterful, and the wide(REALLY WIDE)screen presentation takes it to the very max and uses every oppurtunity available. The cast was and still is first-rate, too. Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre form a very believable and amusing pair. But James Mason steals the show, making for a better Captain Nemo than anyone could ever have dreamed. The music perfectly matches the mood of the film, as well. Just about everything in this film shows how much love and effort went into it. In short, it's a masterpiece of the cinema, one of the most groundbreaking movies ever made, and forms a respectable duo with the other classic Jules Verne adaptation of the 50s, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (also starring James Mason).For any movie made within the last decade, the transfer is great. For a movie made in 1954, it's truly unbelievable! This is one DVD where when they say "Fully-Restored", they really mean it! The sound is incredibly clear, as well.But the true reason to buy this Special Edition DVD is for the second disc jam-packed full of extraordinary extras. The 90 minute making-of documentary is one of the best ever produced, covering every aspect of the film's production in a manner that is both fun and fascinating. Also of great interest is the lost "Sunset Squid" sequence, which is the original giant squid battle as it was first filmed. When compared to what's actually in the film, the difference is astonishing! What's shown here is so incredibly fake that it realy is hillarious! Aside from these two features, there are just so many other extras it would be futile to attempt to list them all here. You have to buy the DVD to discover the extent of it all, and trust me: you will be stunned.CONCLUSION: For any respectable fan of classics, science-fiction, fantasy, or Disney adventures (or all four combined), you should be ashamed to not own this ground-breaking DVD experience. I would have gladly spent more $! Now how many times can you hear someone say that and truly mean it?"