BEWARE this inexpensive DVD
Thomas M. Sipos | Santa Monica, CA | 07/24/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This 1970s movie version of the Jack London novel deserves at least three stars, but I give it two because this DVD is so poor.
A recurring problem with inexpensive DVDs is poor quality control. I've had problems with bargin bin DVDs at discount stores, and though I bought this one from Amazon, the low price should have been the tipoff.
The DVD looks like it was taken from an old 16mm TV print. It's a "full screen" version, so part of the credits are cut off. The color is poor. Bright day scenes are sometimes washed out. The nighttime scenes are even worse. The darker colors (night sky, ocean, men's beards, dark clothes) bleed into one another.
The sound is poor, the music distorted by the soundtrack's age. Obviously, this is no digitially re-mastered film, but what do you expect for under $5?
Even worse, toward the end of the film, the DVD keeps freezing, continuously, so you can't actually finish watching it. I've had the same problem with the ELIZA'S HOROSCOPE DVD, which I bought in a bargain bin.
The film itself is pretty good. The tale of a gentleman ca. 1890s who is "shang-highed" (not sure about the spelling, but it refers to the then-common practice of kidnapping men to serve as sailors). He finds himself on a seal-hunting ship run by the cruel Captain Wolf Larson. Larson is a Nietzschean figure, who philosophizes that if you can't impose your rights, then they are not rights. Since his weaker crewmen can't overpower him, he has a right to kidnap them.
Some interesting philosophical debating occurs in this film, as well as some good action sequences.
I think this may have been a foreign production (Italian?), with dialogue dubbed in. Chuck Connors is an excellent Wolf Larson, and he seems to have dubbed his own voice. About two thirds into the film, he picks up some castaways, including "Bond girl" Barbara Bach. Bach did many Italian films before THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, but I'm not sure if she dubbed her own voice (which is odd, since she knows English).
A reasonably enjoyable film, marred by the poor DVD."