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Category:    Home > Reviews > Adventure > Underwater > Action > Crime > Kidnapping > Mystery > Revenge > Aliens > Ancient Mysteries > Tele > Around The World Under The Sea (1965/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Killing American Style (1990/Cinema Epoch DVD)/The Public Defender (1931/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)/Search For The Gods (1975/Warner Archive D

Around The World Under The Sea (1965/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Killing American Style (1990/Cinema Epoch DVD)/The Public Defender (1931/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)/Search For The Gods (1975/Warner Archive DVD)

Picture: C+/C/C/C Sound: C+/C/C/C Extras: C/C/D/D Films: C+/C+/C+/C

PLEASE NOTE: All the titles above (EXCEPT for Killing American Style) are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.

Even with their various flaws, these action/adventure genre releases have their moments....

Andrew Marton's Around The World Under The Sea (1965) was MGM's way of trying to have an action film to make some money off of a United Artists issued what would be the biggest James Bond film for many decades to come (and in some ways still is), Thunderball from the same year. Ivan Tors, Lamar Boren and Ricou Browning worked on that Bond, as well as the TV hit Sea Hunt, so they are reunited here with its star, Lloyd Bridges and he is joined by Goldfinger co-star Shirley Eaton, Brian Kelly, Keenan Wynn, Gary Merrill and the co-star of MGM successful Bond-like TV hit The Man From U.N.C.L.E., David McCallum.

The script is slap-happy about the science and science fiction elements, but the underwater gadgets and equipment are as fun as the use of color and scope framing throughout. The drama and dialogue are also often lacking, but this is meant to target families with a side of fluff that is also trying to convince parents that this is safer than a Bond film to take their children to. The result is a curio that has aged well in some ways, badly in others, but deserves to be seen once, especially as it is here on this DVD.

Extras include a Spanish Language Trailer (unlisted on the DVD case) and 4:34 Promotion Featurette (in 1.33 X 1, cutting off the sides of the scope film footage).

Amir Shervan's Killing American Style (1990) is a more entertaining knock-off of The Desperate Hours (1955, reviewed elsewhere on this site) than you might think (made more interesting by comparison to the Michael Cimino remake that came out not long after with Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins) starting with some a group of pumped-up tough guys having it out with the LAPD, leading them to run away to evade arrest for being cop killers.

They land up at the home of a nice family who they promptly terrorize as they blackmail them to get a doctor for their cohort who is suffering from bullet wounds. However, with the sexual sleaziness and often 1970s exploitation set-up, it plays more like a belated pre-home video drive-in movie than a thriller of its time. To its credit, it holds well together to about its last reel where it has to become the film it is, but it is worth seeing and Jim Brown is a plus as a police chief.

An interview with Geoffrey Alexander Virden, oddly unlisted on the DVD case but worth your time after seeing the film, is the only extra.

J. Walter Ruben's The Public Defender (1931) is an underseen, very interesting film RKO made with then major movie star Richard Dix (too forgotten for our own good) as playboy and money heir who at night, is a secret avenger know as The Reckoner, seeing justice against bad people, some of whom also have big money. Assisted by Doc (Paul Hurst) and the very well-spoken Professor (a fine early turn by Boris Karloff the year he debuted as Frankenstein), it can play like a superhero film a bit, but it leaned more towards the likes of The Shadow, The Lone Wolf, Danger: Diabolik and detective fiction. The result is a nice little gem that I wished were longer than its 70 minutes and sadly never led to a series. Catch it when you can.

There are sadly no extras.

Last but not least is Jud Taylor's Search For The Gods (1975), intended as a telefilm pilot for star Stephen McHattie, who never became a leading man like he could and should have, but an enduring character actor. The curio in this one now is that a young pre-John Carpenter Kurt Russell (no longer a child star) is the co-star and Wonder Woman and Love Boat producer Douglas S. Cramer was backing this to capitalize on the then-big fascination with the pyramids, new age thinking, ancient mysteries and UFOs.

A rich, mysterious, powerful man wants an ancient metal piece made of a material that has not been identified and a young woman (Victoria Racimo) has it, but will not be giving it away as it has to do with her family and people, but that will not stop the rich man's greed and power to get it. The two main male leads find themselves in the middle of this and there lies the story.

There are some good moments here and the supporting cast including Raymond St. Jacques, Albert Paulsen and Ralph Bellamy are a plus, but this seems a bit underdeveloped as a telefilm and as a pilot, yet I can see why Warner and Cramer had hopes this could work and sell. It is wroth a look, though.

There are unfortunately no extras.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Sea is the best-looking transfer on the list with usually decent MetroColor throughout and was shot for 70mm blow-ups, a treatment Thunderball was not going to get. Nice use of real 35mm anamorphic Panavision and some shots will remind you of that Bond film in a good way. Despite some good shots with the 1.33 X 1 black & white image on Defender, the 1.33 X 1 color image on Gods (both shot on 35mm film) and the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Killing, they are all softer and Killing has some motion blur issues. All four deserve Blu-rays and new HD transfers.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Sea can show its age and is not the original soundtrack for the film, as in its 70mm blow-ups, it came with 6-track magnetic stereo, but this is still passable if lacking. Yet, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the other DVDs is a little rougher, softer and more compressed, disappointing a bit. All four films need and deserve some sound restoration too.

You can order all of the Warner Archive DVDs by going to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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