The Love Bug
Walt Disney Pictures' production of The Love Bug, directed by Robert Stevenson, was one of the studio's most popular and enduring feature films of the 1960s, yielding three sequels and a made-for-TV remake a generation later, though it never got much respect on home video. There was one early laserdisc edition that was never upgraded, and that was it until May 2003, when Buena Vista issued this double-disc DVD Special Edition. The film-to-video transfer (done in a non-anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio to recapture the theatrical proportions of the image) is just beautiful. Every flesh tone and some of the smallest details (down to the petals of the roses that Dean Jones' character buys for Michele Lee) are presented about as well as they were the day the movie opened. So it's a pleasure to watch, especially compared with any presentation that the movie has had since 1969 -- and that alone is a selling point. The first disc also contains the 1951 cartoon Susie the Little Blue Coupe, featuring Sterling Holloway as narrator, but the real treat is the audio commentary track featuring Jones, Buddy Hackett, and Lee. Hackett is priceless in his recollections, funny and insightful within the limitations of his memory. Jones has the better memory, but is somewhat less entertaining, while Lee still displays a girlish charm in observing herself as an actress more than 30 years later. Surprisingly, none of them offers much in the way of recollections about director Robert Stevenson, though Jones has a wealth of memories concerning various members of the crew. Supporting the movie on the second disc are various featurettes, both contemporary and from the period of the movie's release, principally focusing on Herbie the Volkswagen, plus two deleted scenes, production stills, storyboards, and other artifacts from the planning stages of the picture. Nobody involved seemed prepared for the immense success of the movie, one of the last major successes of the "old" Disney. No one seems to have reckoned that, in addition to being extremely entertaining in its zany way and filled with characters who were fun to watch (with Lee sexy enough to draw the attention of older boys and men bringing their kids to see it), the movie had the good fortune to appear in the midst of the Vietnam War, and during a very tough, strife-filled year domestically. A fantasy about a clever car -- and a VW "Bug" at that (the most looked-down-upon vehicle on the road in America at the time) -- was just what the doctor ordered. The two discs on this set are both easy to maneuver , with straightforward menus and selections, that are entertainingly designed.